Writing a good request for proposal (RFP) starts with asking the right RFP questions.
In fact, much of the success of an RFP relies on formulating the right questions — and in the right way. Asking the right RFP questions will help you find the best vendor and will make the selection process much easier when it comes time for review.
But how do you write an RFP or Request for Information (RFI) that asks the right questions?
In this blog post, we share 6 RFP best practices to help you formulate the best questions for your RFP.
6 Best Practices for Asking the Right RFP Questions
1. Start with your RFP goals
This two-step process begins with you asking yourself what your project goals are and what you’re looking for in a RFP vendor. Finding an alignment between the two will help you find the best-fit vendor.
A few examples of that alignment could include:
- Discovering an innovative partner to help your business grow
- Establishing a stable supply chain to ensure a smooth manufacturing process
- Achieving fast turn-around for on-boarding
- Finding a reliable partner to help you meet an aggressive project timeline
- Hooking up with a green supplier with a sustainable track record
- Or, all of the above
In the second step, sit down with your stakeholders and ask the following questions to help you formulate your RFP questions:
- What major problem do we want to solve?
- What are our specific requirements for this project?
- What specific services do vendors need to fulfill?
- What specific experience do vendors need to have to qualify?
- What specific certifications or licenses (if any) are required?
2. Write focused RFP questions
Keep RFP questions focused on your immediate project needs. Avoid the temptation to ask for information that’s beyond the scope of the project.
Keeping your questions focused solely on the project at hand makes it easier for vendors to complete the RFP, and ultimately makes your evaluation process easier.
3. Keep RFP questions concise
RFPs do not need to be lengthy to prove themselves effective. In fact, less is often more when it comes to writing RFP questions.
The more concise you are in the range and number of questions you ask, the easier it will be for vendors to produce insightful responses.
Broad questions, on the other hand, will have your vendors scrambling around to pull together information for your extraneous questions — information that ultimately won’t help with your evaluation.
4. Ask one RFP question at a time
It’s a common (but poor) practice in RFP writing to bury sub-questions or combine questions into one. No matter how tempting, we strongly suggest avoiding this.
Asking double-barrelled or multi-part RFP questions can be confusing for the vendor. As a result, vendors may be tempted to provide rambling responses just to make sure they’re covering all their basis.
Ultimately, you have to read those rambling responses, making it harder for you to evaluate and compare vendors.
5. Circle back to your goals
Each RFP question should ultimately point back to your project goals.
After crafting your RFP questions, sit down with your team and do a final review to make sure that every question is underpinned by your project goals. Doing so will help you attract the sort of vendors you want and will ultimately make it easier to pick the best-fit vendor.
6. Weight and score your RFP questions
Once your questions are crafted, assign a weight to each and a score to each response—assigning higher points to your important questions.
This step is critical as it will ensure your evaluation will rank RFP vendors according to their ability to fulfill your most important criteria.
Ultimately, your RFP is meant to ensure you find the vendor that will best be able to meet your goals— either the right product, the right solution, or the right price. By asking the right RFP questions, you’ll set yourself on the path for finding that right fit.
Or, save yourself the hassle
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