Understanding the Components of a Request for Proposal

Ariele Sieling posted this on proposals

papers on a deskBefore we delve too far into this topic, let's first answer the question: "Why does it matter?" What do I, as a potential consultant, care about how an RFP is structured? What difference does the proposal quality make? Why should anyone care?

The answer is simple: a good RFP lays a solid foundation for the project for both the company and the consultant. This means you can easily determine the manpower, budget, and resources necessary to complete the project to the company's specifications, which means that later down the line, there will be a decreased likelihood of confusion, hiccups, or changes in plan.

It also is the perfect opportunity for you to figure out how to respond to the proposal. If you understand what elements they are going to provide, you can determine what information you need to include in your RFP response.

So where to get started?


<h2>Outlining an RFP</h2>

The best place to begin is with a map. What does an RFP look like? This RFP template provides a basic outline for what information should be included in the RFP, but depending on the industry or type of project you're working on, it may provide more or less information.

  1. Why?
    Why is this project important? This section may include a statement of purpose, any necessary background information, the scope of work, and standards. It should also include a list of deliverables, the term of the contract, payments, and any other relevant project information. This will help you understand the value of the project.
  2. Who?
    Who are they? Who do they need? This section should include a description of your organization and their values. It should also include information about you: who are they looking for to complete the contract? It should also include contact information.
  3. What?
    What is the project about? What are its goals and objectives? This section should include a clear outline of the project from beginning to end. It should include deliverables, timetables, and any other information that explains how the project will operate.
  4. How?
    How should this project be completed? This section should explain what the consultant should bring to the table. What do they expect from you? What tools and resources are you expected to bring or provide? What criteria are they using to evaluate you as the potential consultant, and the success of the project?
  5. When?
    When do they need it to be complete? This section should include specific timelines with each deliverable, it's pieces, and it's completion mapped out as clearly as possible.
  6. How much?
    How much will it cost? It all comes down to money. What is the budget for the project? How much will they pay you, how much is allocated for travel and other related expenses? What are the contractual terms and conditions?

With all of these details laid out clearly, you can determine exactly what information you need to provide to the potential client, and write a proposal that will shine.

Stay tuned for the next post in our series on RFPs: Where to Find an RFP.

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