Historically, the RFx process has been arduous and manual for both requestors and responders, yet the RFP remains the number one way to find and evaluate new vendors. Although there are many tools available to help digitize the experience and make it more efficient, there is one simple place to start that many may not have considered: templates! RFx Templates can help drive response rates, increase the quality of vendor responses, and improve the efficiency of the evaluation or selection process.
An RFP template makes it easy for issuers to standardize this request and streamlines the submission time for responding parties. By creating and utilizing a well-crafted and calculated RFP template, your team can garnish the exact information they need to make an educated decision on which vendor to move forward with. In this article, learn how quickly and easily you can leverage RFP Templates in your process.
How To Create An Effective RFP Template
1. Cut out the fluff
Take an inventory of the last several RFPs that you have issued, and do a side-by-side comparison
- Which questions were of most importance in making your decisions for the RFP process?
- Which questions were repetitive?
- Ask yourself: Which questions should I include in this RFP so that I can elicit the most meaningful response from my vendors?
Red-line your questions to narrow it down to only those that were completely necessary!
2. Keep it clear and organized
It is helpful to have some generalized introductory questions about the responding organization’s name, address, and history. However, if this information is not likely to be a major factor in the decision-making process, keep this section short and to the point.
For the remaining sections, ensure that the questions are well organized. The section headings should be descriptive enough that the reader can easily determine how to frame their response. Remember: as you are putting this template together, you are also compiling the questions in the most efficient way possible for both you AND your responding vendors!
3. Customize the question types
Utilize response word count restrictions – or even tailor the question type itself to get the answer in a format that is useful for the reviewer. For example, if you want to confirm whether the company is privately or publicly owned, you could utilize single-select or radio question types to elicit a clean and specific response. There is no sense in using open-ended questions for every question. You could end up with hundreds of lengthy responses to review alongside your selection committee colleagues!
4. Get stakeholder feedback and approval
Now that you have created a clean, concise list of questions, it is important to get feedback from necessary stakeholders; for example, your colleagues, compliance teams, evaluation committee members, and even potential clients you may be issuing on behalf of.
How To Leverage RFP Templates
1. Establish opportunity basics
When you are ready to issue an RFP, the Project Lead should gather all stakeholders and agree on the opportunity basics or essential criteria.
- What are the minimum requirements?
- What are the objectives?
- Who will be invited to respond?
- What are the evaluation criteria?
- What is the timeline?
In order to set your team up for repeatable future success, it is imperative that you include specific project details for both your own and your responding vendors’ edifices. A well-developed description of the opportunity should include a direct opportunity value, an explicit timeline for submission and Q&A period, and appropriate supporting documentation so that your vendors fully comprehend the scope of the RFP.
2. Choose the appropriate template
Utilize industry-specific RFP templates for a variety of opportunity types. If your work is diverse and requires maintenance of templates, it may be beneficial for your team to take advantage of a software solution with preloaded templates as a starting point. With Catapult, your team can modify these templates to suit your needs or start from scratch to build your own template. Using a template ensures that the process is both effective and repeatable!
As a best practice with template creation, users should try to incorporate a variety of question types to help produce a clean and condensed output. Remember, this template is not only important for this specific project but also for future projects down the road. Be sure to help alleviate the burden for your responders as well as people reviewing the project.
3. Issue the RFP
It is important to reach appropriate and qualified vendors when issuing your templated proposal. As a potential starting point for sourcing novel relationships, publicizing or posting the opportunity on a public project board will help reach more potential vendors. Whenever an RFP is posted to a project board, key variables and attributes associated with the proposal itself should be explicitly conveyed so that vendors assessing new opportunities on the project board listing can quickly and easily determine if they too are a great fit to respond to the proposal! Additionally, leveraging existing relationships is a great idea when issuing new opportunities, so be sure to utilize any existing platforms you can find to help get your RFP into the hands of responders.
Once you issue the RFP, be sure to individually reach out to all the responding vendors to notify them that a project has been sent their way. Let them know they can contact you with any questions or any feedback. Try to establish a relationship with the responders even if you don’t choose them to win. A good relationship can elicit improved response rates from your vendors as well as provide the framework for future RFP invitations!
RFP Templates Help Responders Too!
When utilizing templates, they help the responders keep their content library updated proactively. The more templates you use, the more that responders will know which questions to prioritize! Responding organizations can then work to establish quality answers and respond more efficiently.
A comprehensive RFx template library will help your workflow and provide clarity between your team and your potential vendors. Ask our team about Catapult’s exclusive templates today!