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Timeline of the RFP Process

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Last editedApr 20231 min read

The RFP process involves several important stages and can take several months for a big company. This section walks you through a suggested structure for the process.

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 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 around 4 months. Note timing will vary based on your company size, project complexity, and seasonal workload, so adjust the timescales accordingly.




Ask providers to sign NDA


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. You should discuss NDAs with your providers early to ensure that you are covered. Some may have prebuilt NDAs ready to send for your review. 

Distribute RFP to providers


Once the provider has signed an NDA, send 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


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.

Questions deadline


You should allow vendors to ask questions about your RFP process and requirements. Questions should be submitted to the person leading the RFP process, in a set template. 

Distribute answers


Anonymise providers’ questions and share your answers with the entire provider list. This removes bias from your RFP process. You should ensure you give providers enough time to act on any new information you are providing. 

RFP deadline


This is the deadline for providers to submit their answers to you. 

Internal shortlisting period


Run an internal process to shortlist the top 3 providers based on their responses. More detail on this ‘evaluation’ phase is below.

Shortlist notification


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


Conduct follow-up meetings with your shortlisted providers. We explain on this page what you should be looking for here.



Internal scoring and meetings to make the final decision.

Reference checking, due diligence and further Q&A


Get customer references or stories, perform due diligence on the company, and resolve any final questions with your chosen company.

Communicate final decision


Communicate the final decision to your shortlist; commence residual legal discussions with your chosen provider.

Distribute feedback to providers


It’s good practice to give feedback to all providers that responded to your RFP, even those that didn’t make the shortlist. This will help them improve the quality of their proposals - you may work with them in the future!

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