Do you ever struggle in writing a request for proposal (RFP) for research? I know I used to when I was on the client-side of the table, and I have found that clear communication is the key to success in this effort.
One of the most important things to provide upfront in your RFP is a comprehensive overview of your organization (e.g., mission statement, clients, competitors, history with research projects). Don’t forget to include any unique information that may be pertinent to the project, but may not be found on your website.
It is also perfectly acceptable to think big, just remember to include the details. Be sure the goals of your research are as specific as possible. Or, if you need a bit of assistance determining your project objectives, why not invite a conversation with a potential research vendor.
As research providers, we often have a specific course of action in mind; however, I encourage you to be open to different methods. Ultimately, you are asking for solutions to help you identify and address your organization’s opportunities and challenges,?? take full advantage of innovative approaches that may assist your efforts.
Wait! Before we go any further, we must discuss the end game,?? how will you judge the responses to your RFP? It sounds elementary, but be clear about the selection criteria, at least in your own mind, before you send your RFP. Determine in advance which issues are most important to you (e.g., price, reputation, and experience). And, if you share your priorities with competing research vendors, they are in a better position to offer a proposal focused on your needs and requirements.
When determining your selection criteria, I highly encourage you to set guidelines. Many RFPs limit the number of pages or types of information you wish to receive, giving you more time for evaluation. Also, if you establish a clear timeline for review, you won’t be bombarded by e-mails and phone calls from bidders asking about the status of their proposals.
Finally, be sure to lay out your budget. If at all possible, give a range of how much you have to spend for the research. This is understandably challenging for some projects, but it can help the bidder narrow down potential recommendations, saving both parties time and money.
I hope these recommendations save you a bit of heartburn the next time you have to write a request or review a proposal for research. We would love to hear what you like to see in proposals. If you have any pointers, please be sure to leave us a comment!