Who Doesn't Hate Putting Together An RFP?

Is there anything more tedious than putting together an RFP (Request For Proposal)? It’s even worse when you have to compile an RFP about a topic you don’t know much about. Granted, it’s a good way to learn and it certainly helps getting organized, but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone else do all the heavy lifting? Well then, I might have something to brighten your day…

I took a little time to design an online RFP form for the Venture Platform. It’s the result of talking to a number of performing arts organizations interested in getting a bid for custom work but were avoiding it because they were frustrated over not knowing where to start or what they should even be thinking about when defining the scope and specifications.

For those not already in the know, a typical RFP can be broken down into the following basic sections:

  • Executive Summary
  • General Information (guidelines, index, objectives)
  • Administrative Issues (requirements, contract terms, etc.)
  • Organization for Proposals (timeline, budget, schedule, etc.)
  • Technical specs
Is there anything more tedious than putting together an RFP?

As a consultant, it isn’t unusual to be on the receiving end of RFPs that are either over-engineered or so generic it is cellar that the organization has no clue what they want or even need. It’s frustrating for the client because they don’t want to project an appearance of ignorance out of an entirely justified fear over looking like an easy mark to unscrupulous providers but on the other hand, they still need to solicit bids and obtain accurate and reliable quotes.

Fortunately, a little “keep it simple” principle comes in handy at this point and when combined with a healthy dose of clear-cut language and expert understanding, crafting an online form based RFP is simple business. It helps the client through a process that would otherwise suck up more hours than it should but protects the integrity of the solicitation process.

The result should look like the straightforward RFP form I posted this week at The Venture Platform website. There are less than 20 questions and out of those, a number are of the yes/no variety but it still manages to compile all of the important information provided by an exhaustive RFP.

The form is broken up over a few pages so you don’t get slammed with visual overload from too many questions and for most users, it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to complete. There’s even a handy progress counter on every page in case you forget where you are in the process.

So regardless if you need to serious consider your website and email marketing or not, you should take a few moments to swing by to check out the form and how it’s put together.

Take me to the RFP form

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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