How to Choose the Right RFP Template

Many organizations remain unsure of how to look for suppliers. They wonder how to choose a request for proposal (RFP) for this purpose, as this document helps them narrow the vendor choices and pay a fair price. This process doesn’t need to be complicated. 

Before choosing an RFP template, determine a scoring system. A company may choose an established scoring system and think that will be enough. However, they need to customize the scoring system to meet their unique needs. The following steps make it easy to do so.

Requirements Discovery

The RFP scoring system needs to be established well before issuing an RFP, as the supplier selection process begins during the requirements discovery portion of the process. The requirements outlined during this portion of the process actually form the basis for the scorecard to be used during the selection portion. 

Bring together key stakeholders to determine these requirements. This should include employees from every department of the organization. Learn how they define success and how they plan to achieve different goals. What features or functionality will be needed to do so? In addition, gather input on how the RFP questions and requirements should be categorized. For instance, the categories may include reputation, financial stability, and pricing. 

Select an Approach

Once a list of RFP requirements has been established and categorized, the stakeholders must then prioritize the requirements. In rare cases, a simple scoring system is sufficient for this purpose. For example, the company may rank proposals on a scale of one to five. However, most companies find this isn’t the case, and they need to determine what features and functionality they must have and which can be sacrificed if needed. This allows for the use of weighted scoring

Determining the Priorities

Weighted scoring requires information on the importance of each requirement and each collective category. Create four categories to use during this part of the process. For example, a company may choose to separate requirements by those which are essential, ones that would be nice to have, those that aren’t important, and those that fall outside of the scope. Each category is then given a weight. Many companies choose to include functionality, reputation, financial stability, technical requirements, and security in the weighted portion. 

The Scoring Rubric

Most companies choose to use a scale of one to five when comparing RFPs. However, each company may use a scale they feel is most appropriate. The scale selected should be suitable for all question formats. Next, create a list of questions that can be used to determine the information needed to make a decision. In addition, figure out how to score each question.

If either/or questions will be used, the maximum points should go to the preferred responses. The same may be done with multiple-choice questions, with the most popular answer receiving the highest points and the least popular answer the lowest. Open-ended questions are more of a challenge. Identify several potential responses and categorize them as the ideal response. Include one that is acceptable, one that needs improvement, and one that is unacceptable. Assign points to each category. 

Direct Evaluators

Evaluators must receive clear direction on how to proceed. Each person has a unique perspective and experience when it comes to scoring proposals. This can be a help and a hindrance. While having multiple individuals involved in the process ensures nothing gets overlooked, each person may interpret questions and responses differently. The procurement manager must guide them through this process as they create a scoring rubric. This manager must remain available to clarify and navigate any issues that arise as the process moves forward. 

A comprehensive RFP makes it easier to come to a decision. Don’t hesitate to include information, as this program should fulfill the company’s needs for many years to come. Clear guidance makes it easier for vendors to do their job, and they will appreciate this thoroughness. Keep this in mind when choosing a template for outstanding results. 

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