The RFP is a very important document between the client and the consultant when it comes to consulting. But before we jump into how a client can write a good consulting RFP, it is only fair to first understand what an RFP for consulting services really is.
The Request for Proposal or more commonly known as RFP for consulting is a legal and essential document that contains important information about a particular project. Many projects fail because the expectations are unclear or unreasonable. So, whether you decide to launch a competition or not, it is always a good idea to make sure the consultants understand what you expect from the project. And if you launch an RFP process (which we recommend when possible), it is the best way to get solid proposals to choose from.
Now coming to the main part, a good and successful consulting RFP should be written and prepared in such a manner that it maximizes the success of your project. For that, you need to keep a few things in mind while preparing the RFP.
Be Crystal Clear: Perhaps the most important element of writing an RFP is to make it easy to understand. With the globalization of the consulting industry, some of your counterparts might not be native speakers. So, try to avoid complicated wording or convoluted syntax. Remember, you are not aiming for the Nobel prize in Literature. Instead, keeping things crisp and to the point by using minimal words is the best way to get your message across to the consultant. Be specific in describing the issues that need to be tackled as well as mention the necessary deadlines clearly. Also, be sure to specify the results you are expecting! And if you are unclear about the exact needs, conduct a mini-internal workshop with some of the stakeholders to get things sorted.
Set Realistic and Attainable Goals: Being ambitious is always good, but you also want your supplier to make it happen for you. Thus, the goals you set must be challenging, realistic, and of course, attainable. And if you stumble and aren’t sure about what is attainable, do not think twice to initiate a round of discussion with the providers via an RFI (Request for Information).
Solution-Driven Approach: Half the battle is won in brainstorming, but you can also enhance your chances of getting picked by a consultant if you try and think outside of the box. One way to do that is to simply approach this whole process as though you are seeking a solution and not making a purchase. You’re basically trying to solve a company problem and that’s why you need to have a solution-driven approach towards this process.
Get The Important Questions Answered: The RFP helps you get answers to certain questions such as – Will the consultant be able to clearly understand the problem the company wants to tackle? Can the consultant tackle the said issue? And three, will the client and the consultant work well smoothly together? These are the main questions that your RFP will help you get answers for!
Now, it’s time to focus on what the RFP should contain. You need to feed the consultant with ample amounts of information so that the work can be conducted smoothly and efficiently. So, your RFP should include the following:
A brief introduction about your company to make the consultant aware of what exactly the business is all about.
A high-level presentation of your company that includes every minute detail including your industry, footprints, as well as your company’s financials.
The actual context of the assignment that needs to be carried which should include the problems the company is facing, what necessary steps have been taken so far, , how effective they were and so on.
Next up are the expectations which should include the high-level objectives that the company is seeking to achieve, the expected deliverables as well as the time frame for the project.
Furthermore, there are other elements that need to be included in the RFP for consulting. First, you’ll need to describe how the selection process will unfold and that will begin with the key milestones because it’s imperative that the consulting candidates have a clear understanding of how much time they have in hand to prepare and submit their proposal. This gives them a fair idea of when the project could kickoff. Moreover, the important steps in the selection RFP process go like this:
Step 1 – Distribution of the RFP as well as the intention to bid for the proposal.
Step 2 – Pre-proposal submission of questions and answers (the answers should be shared to all, of course)
Step 3 – The timing for the reception of the proposals.
Step 4 – Shortlist and presentations.
Step 5 – The final selection.
Step 6 – Getting the ball rolling to commence the project.
Then, you need to move onto the proposal content. This will include the objectives pursued, the approach and deliverables, the planning that highlights the key milestones, and the proposed structure (which includes the contribution from the client).
Moving on, we now need to focus on sharing the criteria for the decision of the selection. This selection criteria usually covers things like; the capabilities or type of services needed for the project, the level of expertise in a given field, the quality of the approach the consultant will go for, the composition of the team, the overall pricing of the project, and lastly, whether or not the consultant will gel well with the other members of the company.
And yes, you may also have other requirements that you want to add to your RFP for consulting services. For example, having references and contact information to check these references.
To learn more about RFP for consulting services, please have a look at this definitive guide!
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