Do’s & Don’ts of RFP Response Writing - Part II: How to Approach an RFP Response
In my previous blog on RFP Response Writing, we discussed the reasons of not attempting an RFP; in this blog I will share some of the main ingredients of an RFP response:
Read and Review the RFP
You have to read the RFP plenty of times so that you are familiar with all the requirements, timelines and eligibility criteria. Skipping an RFP is much better than responding to it without any understanding about the RFP. Therefore it is extremely important that you understand the scope completely so as to write an accurate response to it.
Ask Questions and use the answers to formulate your response
As we have already discussed the RFPs often state requirements that are unclear. It is your job to extract the ambiguities and compile a query list out of it. This should be shared with the RFP Owner to get answers so as to better understand the requirements.
Sara Holtz advises that it is best to be open and thorough while sending queries. In ‘10 Questions to Ask before Responding to an RFP’, she says:
“Don't be shy about asking! If the client is serious about the RFP process, they should welcome your questions. In fact, the more questions you ask, the more focused and relevant your response--saving the client time and resulting in a more compelling presentation.”
This process should continue until you are sure that you are proposing the exact solution that the client needs.
Follow the Pattern required for a Response
Once the solution is refined with the help of the client’s responses to your queries, ensure that your response is in the exact format that is expected by the customer. Generally it includes:
- Your company’s profile
- List of your existing clients
- List of projects done with similar nature
- Project team skillset
- Scope of the Project
- Technical Details of your proposed solution with the help of diagrams, charts etc.
- Hardware or Software Bill of Quantity if applicable
- Assumptions & Disclaimer
- Financial Information including cost of the solution
QA of the Response
It is extremely important to send an error free response to avoid any inconvenience leading to rejection in some cases. To achieve this, reviewing the response and doing a QA of the response is important. Go through the whole response a number of times and ideally it should be reviewed by a different person each time so as to improve the quality of the response.
Send well within time
Last but not the least, sending the response in time is important. It is recommended to send the response well within time so that any lags can be covered before the due date. The Response Printing and sending team should be inline and ready so that they can take the response and send it to the RFP owner before the due date.
Thanks, but no thanks
As a concluding remark to this article, it is understandable to consider RFPs as a means to bring new business opportunities however it is a wise strategy to be selective with RFPs so as to ensure your assets are being consumed productively. You can do that by keeping a check on the number of RFPs attempted versus the number of RFPs awarded. And if you see your team going about RFPs that are not bringing any good to your company, then, saying thanks but no thanks might be a good response to such RFPs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Systems Limited, or any other entity related to Systems Limited.