Our webinar hosted on August 16th by members of the Trinnex team provided a better understanding of challenges with developing digital solutions Request for Proposals (RFPs) and how to avoid them.
The hour-long webinar covered:
- Reviewing a basic digital solutions RFP, similar to what other organizations have issued
- Identifying common mistakes seen that end up creating more problems in the end
- Walking through best practices to get on the right track
Trinnex team members include Christy Russell, PMP, Trinnex’s Senior Systems Consultant and Bill Woelbeling, Trinnex’s information management software developer. This team has a combined 40 years of experience in developing customer digital solutions for infrastructure clients.
Elements of RFP success
Having a well written RFP facilitates beneficial business relationships and gets more responses on target. RFPs require several key elements and Christy and Bill go through each thoroughly throughout the webinar.
The five main elements are listed below.
You’ll need a small distinct description of the organization. It’s important to include what your vision is, what desires the organization has, and what goals within the industry you want to hit. Make sure you include the benefits of the project and its history.
2. Required Elements
An overview, or essentially the elevator pitch, is needed for a successful RFP. Including deadlines, key dates, and documentation that will support the proposal falls within this section. Documentation can involve resumes and training requirements from the team, which fall in line with evaluation criteria.
The evaluation criteria should include “blockers” that could lead to disqualification. The scope of work is the last among required elements. The scope of work must provide clarity about the project details, and include milestones and other key project related deadlines. Specificity is not always required – you want to leave room for innovative solutions.
Hear more about the ideal scope of work in our clip below.
3. Organizational mandates
Organizational mandates include requirements that are specific to your organization such as:
- Mandatory policies
- Legal requirements or business practices such as ADA compliance
- Security practices
These mandates should be well documented in the RFP. And don’t forget about document and data formats. You don’t want the offeror to have to guess your format requirements.
4. Logical flaws to avoid
A logical flaw is an element of the RFP that inhibits the offeror from making a complete and concise proposal.
Similar to not clearly stating your organizational mandates, omissions or leaving parts of a specification out force your offeror to play a guessing game. Contradictions are another type of flaw where multiple people working on an RFP might request the same task differently. For example, you might ask for five rounds of development whereas another section might ask for three.
Bill explains contradictions more in the clip below.
The last logical flaw, unbound tasks, typically present themselves in fixed cost proposals. An unbound task is a requirement to do something where you cannot cost the item out. For example, asking the offeror to “produce reports as needed” rather than providing a specific amount. In some cases, a task may be unbounded due to foundations in the results of another task. Task 1 might be to determine what data users are interested in; whereas task 2 is to implement what was discovered in task 1. One solution is to break the project into two RFPs to process the second task order correctly.
5. Optional Inclusions
Optional inclusions are nice-to-haves but not mandatory and should clearly explain their importance to the RFP evaluation process. For example, will the offeror gain bonus points if they meet the optional elements.
Watch this clip summarizing the key elements of an RFP.
At this point of the webinar, Christy and Bill introduced an interactive exercise. You can take part, too. Download this example RFP and see if you can spot any issues with the five key elements mentioned earlier:
- Requirement elements
- Organizational mandates
- Logical flaws
- Optional Inclusions
Skip to the 33:00 mark in the webinar recording to hear what the speakers and webinar audience members spotted as potential issues.
Want personalized digital RFP guidance?
Reach out to our digital services team, including the webinar speakers featured in this blog post.
Check out our other webinars we’ve hosted: