A RFP should maximise your chances of picking the right provider. Initially, you’ll have a set of requirements that you want to filter providers on. However, once you’ve filtered out the obviously bad fits, you will still have a couple of providers that could plausibly be the best one for you. Thus, you’ll want to look at the shortlist in more detail before coming to your decision.
The RFP Process in detail
The table below provides a suggested structure for your RFP. The timings are suggested on the assumption that you are a large company with multiple stakeholders, which will require a lot of planning and a more drawn-out decision-making process. Using this estimated timing, the process should take just under 3 months; however, this could be significantly shorter for smaller companies so feel free to adjust the timescales accordingly.
|Ask providers to sign NDA||0||You will probably share some confidential information with providers about your company (e.g. projected volumes) in order to get pricing information tailored to you; thus, you should ask your providers to sign an NDA to ensure that you are commercially covered.|
|Distribute RFP to providers||5||Once the provider has signed an NDA, email them the RFP with a schedule and all the information they need to give you a comprehensive set of answers.|
|Get confirmation & NDAs from providers that intend to participate||10||Some providers may rule themselves out because they cannot meet the requirements laid out in the RFP. Thus, require providers who intend to participate to explicitly opt in by a certain date.|
|RFP deadline||30||This is the deadline for providers to submit their answers to you. You should allow a ‘questions’ phase here as well; questions should be submitted to the person leading the RFP process, in a set template, and these questions and answers should be shared with the entire provider list to ensure that everybody has access to the same information.|
|Internal shortlisting period||50||You will want to run an internal process to shortlist the top 3 providers based on the information you have been given. More detail on this ‘evaluation’ phase is below.|
|Notify providers whether they have made the shortlist||52||Email providers informing them if they have been selected for the next stage. For those that have, schedule meetings for the next stage, ensuring that you explain who will be attending and what you will be looking for.|
|Follow-up meetings with shortlisted providers||73||Conduct follow-up meetings with your shortlisted providers. We explain on this page what you should be looking for here.|
|Decision-making||87||Internal scoring and meetings to make the final decision.|
|Reference-checking, due diligence and further Q&A||101||Get customer references, perform due diligence on the company, and resolve any final questions with your chosen company.|
|Communicate final decision||115||Communicate the final decision to your shortlist; commence residual legal discussions with your chosen provider.|