How to write a Request for Proposal

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a document that is written to request a business contract, or to describe a procurement process. It's something that will be created in the early stages, often as part of a bidding process, by an individual or corporation. The document must be written in a specific way and contain certain elements to ensure the process goes through smoothly, and the supplier has the information they need.

First, there's several types of RFPs. The type you use depends on the situation and your target audience. Often, you may be looking for suppliers, or freelance workers. Typically, the document will have a technical section, although that can be omitted for more generic requests. If, for example, the RFP is to inform of changes in a bidding process, and adds to some existing document, then the technical section can be omitted.

The flow of the request must follow a specific order. Typically, the document will start with an organizational overview. There, you should describe the goals of the company, the relationship you intend to build, and summarize the process. It could be a paragraph long and talk in general terms. Following that would be a process description, where more details are added about what exactly the contract would entail, the qualifications of the RFP applicant, and what the target audience is.

Then, you should have a list of deliverables, if appropriate. This is where you need to be exhaustive. The list must include every little item you can think of. The bidders will base themselves on this to see if the price is appropriate for the amount of work needed. Also note that this must include both physical items, and online, virtual goods. If the project includes the creation of a specific newsletter, for example, it should be specified there.

After that, assumptions and agreements should be listed. This includes a few paragraphs talking about when the project is expected to be finished, the budget allocated, how the rights and ownership will work, and any extra specification like how many people must work on the project, or whether work must be done on-premise or not. Technical details must be laid out here.

Finally, the RFP must include a submission deadline, and a clear location or address where to submit the proposal to. It's also good to describe how the selection process will happen, if you expect multiple bids. This can be as simple as saying the lowest bid will be selected, or something more complex like a group of people will review each proposal.

When writing the RFP, it's important to stay clear and not use overly technical language. In the center of the document, you can go into technical details, especially for the agreements section, to make sure everything is clear and non confusing, but the rest should be in plain English. A useful tip is to look online for RFPs that were created for similar projects. Since these are usually public, they are recorded in search engines.

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