RFP examples worth highlighting

User Research And Website Design

The good folks over at Goodwill issued a website redesign RFP with a twist: user research and website design.

The project they list is a proposed "phased" approach to a website redesign: an initial relaunch of just the main site homepage, followed by a relaunch of the main site internal pages and other distinct websites.

Disjointing Project Components

NOTE: Wireframes required for sub-pages only. GII has developed a homepage wireframe.

I would be nervous about the phased nature of this particular project. I'm sure there is some requirement somewhere that necessitates this rather awkward breakup of project components. It will not be easy to break off the homepage from the other parts of the site, technologies and shared infrastructure will make it more difficult than it seems on the surface. It also seems like an awkward break in functionality. If there was a sincere need for phasing I would think it would happen around the main site vs. sub-sites not within the main site itself.


Never a fan of detailed scheduling as part of the RFP. I empathize with the need for scheduling, and certainly setting some sort of deadline. But to offer milestones and time between is overstepping (even if these are just suggested elements). The people that know how to schedule these projects will be responding, and they should know how their own time is managed better than you. While I acknowledge this is said at the start of the section, it still comes off as presumptuous. Good firms are busy, if your proposed schedule and deadline look unrealistic then they may not bother to propose. Don't make that mistake. Use your broad deadlines and leave it at that, request the proposed schedule if you like (as it may be instructive) but never provide it.

Acceptance of Deliverables

Another problem with the schedule is the area of deliverable acceptance. I don't like seeing this in the RFP, or in any RFP really. It is the kind of thing you work out much further along in the process. And, no, for deliverables the deadline of:

Ongoing, until GII grants approval is not going to win you any points among the firms that know what they are doing. Let me paraphrase this from the respondents point of view: "if you change our mind you have to change the deliverable...forever." What is written there is an expectation of an open-ended commitment to each deliverable. It is not fair to any firm to require any deliverable be developed and re-developed until it matches some arbitrary point of satisfaction. Unless, of course, they are allowed the counter provision that they be allowed to charge and re-charge you for the work till infinity. Doesn't really work, does it? Just avoid the whole issue at this juncture, it is something you need to work out as part of the contact, not the proposal. If it must be included the proper (and fair) wording is more along the lines of "until the initial specification is satisfied." At least this works against some mutually agreed upon idea rather than the whims of just one party.

Submission Format

I like this:

In keeping with GII's sustainability practices, proposals shall be submitted in one (1) electronic copy to...

One, electronic copy (not two!) for sustainability purposes. You should be accepting electronic copies because it is easier, faster and better. Firms are going to want to submit them electronically for the same reasons. It may make you feel good to say sustainability, but we all know the real deal, this is just feel-good wording.

Response Micro-management

The total proposal, including cover letter, exhibits and attachments of all kinds, shall not exceed 16 single sided pages

No font size, professor?

There is something to be said for a concise response, and if that is valuable to your firm use it in your evaluation. If you micro-manage the response format you are removing a strong differentiator from the proposals. I understand why an evaluator would like uniformity in the responses, it will make comparing them easier. But comparing the firms should not be an easy job, it will be difficult to fine the right response. How a firm chooses to respond and with which points will grant you insight into that firm, far more than if they check the checkboxes you have told them to check. Allowing a flexible response will grant you greater insight into the responding firms.