If you have followed the advice and tips set out in 8 ways to pre-position for an RFP, you will have been invited to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP).
As a professional services individual, you know that bids are commonplace, and managing a busy workload with competing deadlines is challenging. Outlined below are the 8 things to include in your RFP preparation checklist so you are good to go when an RFP arrives:
1. Kick off / strategy meeting.
You should have already called several meetings in the lead up to the RFP’s arrival. The purpose of subsequent meetings is to advise the bid team of any insights gained from briefings with the client, your strategic approach, impending deadlines, content requirements, and to answer any pressing questions. If the questions cannot be answered by the internal bid team, then collate them and put them forward to the client procurement contact.
2. Pricing analysis.
Engage early with your internal finance team and request data on rates and matter analysis.
Review and analyse the information and then start having pricing conversations early with key stakeholders.
Send the RFP pricing spreadsheets to your finance team and ask them to review and seek their input on data required and if they have any queries. Keep them informed of deadlines.
Following agreement of the proposed pricing approach, obtain appropriate internal sign off. This might be from your CFO, Managing Partner, or a group of senior stakeholders.
3. Engage with your internal risk team.
Following receipt of the RFP send all the documents to the risk team and request that they review them (e.g., the draft Panel Head Agreement, IT and Security checklists) and flag any issues.
For example: liability limitations, insurance limits, do you have the appropriate insurances and limits in place?
4. Resourcing assessment.
Objectively assess the time and effort that will be required to put in a response, and your available resources.
Do you have the appropriate number of people with the right skill set? If you require additional resources (business development, copywriter, finance, graphic designer), reach out to your HR team to help call in people from across your organisation, seek assistance from external recruiters who can discuss your requirements and suggest solutions, or go directly to an external consultant.
5. RFP review and timetable.
Read the RFP several times and start collating a summary of it so that you can easily refer to key sections. The summary can then feed into your project plan, i.e. what is required and what you need to do.
Put key dates set out in the RFP into the bid team’s diaries. For example, the cut-off date and time for questions to the client procurement team, and the due date and time of the RFP.
6. CV preparation, client testimonials and client quotes.
Confirm with senior fee earners who will be included in the bid response team and start working on a template CV.
You should be familiar with the length and form of the CVs requested by the client based on previous bid requests i.e., two pages, concise overview of the fee earner’s experience and then supported with matter/transaction experience which focuses on the outcomes you have achieved for the client.
You may have received client feedback/testimonials/quotes following the completion of a matter/transaction. So, collate these or request them and store these in a central location (see document management section below).
7. Experience summary and matrix.
Once all CVs have been prepared, you will then be able to collate that information into a combined experience summary.
You may have also collated experience in earlier proposals, deal sheets – you can then cross-check the experience. You should also consider that your experience includes any recent client secondments.
Lastly, you may have prepared a matrix summary to identify the experience that will be required and whether you have the depth and breadth of experience required. You can then make a critical assessment as to whether you have the necessary experience, capacity and resources.
8. Document management.
From experience, I have found setting up a OneNote page with all key information and documents relating to a bid response extremely helpful. Getting your document management right is key to a successful bid response.
Conclusion – Your RFP Preparation checklist
The 8 steps above are a great start to include in your RFP preparation checklist.
As the saying goes, “Proper Preparation Prevents a Poor Performance!
If you want to find out more about how to prepare an RFP response read The 12 steps to writing a winning bid. Proposal success made easy.