The last article was the first in a three-part delivery of some ideas, thoughts and best practices that can be used in the preparation of a Request for Proposal (RFP) as part of your security planning. Whilst these articles do focus specifically on security or safety related projects, this process can be considered effective and useable in any situation where services and/or products are needed by your organisation.
This article will focus on some pointers on the general construction of the RFP document and, where applicable, give you some guidance on some of the factors that should be considered. In essence, an RFP is made up of three main sections. How they are arranged, prepared and tabulated will very much depend on your organisation and its administrative set up.
Firstly, the Terms and Conditions; these should have a wide-ranging remit that will cover all of your expectations and requirements, and, if applicable, what is expected of you by the vendor. These documents are generally prepared by an organisation’s contracting/procurement departments and are overseen by the Legal Adviser. Despite the fact that terms and conditions are often straightforward and fairly standard it is vitally important that they should never be just be a case of ‘copy and paste’ and that the lead on a project goes through these conditions very carefully to ensure they are realistic, accurate and customised specifically for your company’s needs. I have often seen cases where consulting services been provided Terms and Conditions that have been written for construction projects…this is never a good omen!
Secondly, the Scope of Works will provide the ‘meat’ of the RFP and should contain the primary focus of what the services, products and deliverables are that will be provided to your organisation. The more information and guidance you can provide in this section, the more accurate and easily assessed the bids that you receive will be. Equally, the more detailed this section is, the less confusion and opportunity for disagreements further down the road. Service providers will need to clearly identify all of the deliverables (type and quality) and timelines. Product vendors will require comprehensive and detailed specifications, standards and data sheets where applicable.
Finally, Financials; compared to the previous two categories this is a relatively small section, but if not considered properly it will have a major impact on how successfully the project is delivered and upon the relationship between the contracted parties, whether the final outcome of the project is satisfactory or not. This section should never be underestimated and very careful consideration should be paid to the terms, invoicing structure and the deliverables attached to them.
An effective and professional RFP should always accurately reflect the project/contract it is trying to establish and not just be a paperwork process that needs to be ‘got out of the way’! An RFP process that is considered and well put together, will provide a clear road map as to how a project will be done and how it will be completed. The value of this process to both parties should never be underestimated and neither should its importance in achieving a successful, positive and timely outcome.
Next week we will look at how to review the responses to the RFP process, and some pointers on the selection process for the successful vendor who will be responsible for taking the project forwards.