How to write a great RFP!

January 27, 2011

What is a great RFP? It depends upon who you ask. A traditional Purchasing Agent will say a great RFP is one that makes all the vendors propose the exact same thing, to make each a commodity, and by doing so force all the vendors to compete on price alone. This type of RFP will often result in the cheapest price.

But is that what you want the “cheapest product”? Really? Let me ask you this; Do you drive the cheapest car you can find? Do you wear the cheapest suit or buy the cheapest TV that you can find? I think not! I think that you shop for the best value. You want a car, a suit, a TV that has value, so why not your copier?

I received a GREAT RFP about a month ago. What, you ask made it great? The verbiage of the RFP was written to allow each vendor to tell the client what made them different, or unique, or special. It asked us to answer the question “Why should we pick you?”

Here is a sample of some of the questions in this RFP:

Describe your company’s core capabilities and business approach.

Please describe the key elements of your proposal. Highlight any major features,
functionality, or areas of support that differentiate your specific service offerings from your

We value creativity and originality. Please note that we are not looking for a generic approach or boilerplate, rather for a description of how you would approach the scope of work specifically for (Customer’s Name)

Define how you will ensure a secure printing network.

Describe how your proposal will improve cost-effectiveness. Please be as specific as

These kind of question allow each of the Vendors responding to the RFP by showing why you should do business with them, rather than their competition. And that is WHAT MAKES IT A GREAT RFP!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


One comment

  1. Vince, we write RFP’s every day. It is part of the public procurement process in europe. Only commodity goes for lowest price. Other RFP are based on Best Value for Money structure.

    We use demanding and awarding criteria.
    Demanding criteria must be deliverd.

    Awarding criteria is based on a point system:
    Provider with lowest price will get 100 points. All other will receive % of points depending on price.

    Other: Productivity, Sustainability, Service Level, …

    Price is valued for 50% and other the other 50% (different per client)

    The answer of open questions are awarded by the buyer team with points (max 5) and an importance factor (1-3). e.g. max 15 points to win.

    Very often we see that vendors are capable to offer extra. Sample: minimum demand is 35 pages, but the vendor can offer 38/40/45 pages

    Offer: 35 no extra points
    38: 1 point extra
    40: 2 point extra
    again the factor

    Same with service: demand is 8 hour response. You can offer 6 hour and get extra points for that.

    Good luck.

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