The Importance of the Other Elements in your Consulting RFP – 8 Points to Consider
“The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle.
Synergy is really what most Clients and Consultants aim for when joining forces on a project. There are logic and advantage in synergy, and that’s how a single project creates extra value.
The best way to view your Consulting project is this: You are not making a purchase, but solving a problem – don’t look at the means, but focus more on the outcomes you expect from the project.
When you work on your RFP, there are 8 points to consider in regards to the other elements:
1. Approach to the selection process –
Clarity and transparency in the selection process matters a lot and can make a big difference in the quality of the product you will receive. You need to communicate and describe to the prospective providers how the selection process will unfold.
First, let’s outline the key milestones for the RFP process. It is important for consulting candidates to understand how much time they have to prepare and submit their proposal. It will also give them an idea on when the project could start.
Usually, at this point, you should have signed a Non Disclosure Agreement with the potential candidates. Even if this step is not mandatory, we highly recommend protecting your confidentiality.
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2. Stages in the RFP process –
- Distribution of the RFP and intention to Bid
- Questions and Answers pre-proposal submission (Answers should be shared with all participants)
- Timeframe for the reception of the proposals
- Short-list and feedback
- Project kick of
3. Stakeholders engagement –
It’s advisable to get several stakeholders involved. They can participate in the selection committee, and organize face to face discussions with the finalist (or you can leverage new technologies like Skype, Zoom, and Google hangouts).
And now let’s have a look at the proposal’s content.
4. Proposal’s content –
- Give some background information about who you are – Unless you are working exclusively with companies you already know (but not always a good idea), you need to let them know about your organization.
- Explain the context of the assignment – A project is rarely unidimensional. Understanding the political and technical implications of a project is key to design a customized solution to your problems.
- Detail your expectations in plain English – Put on paper the benefits and documents you expect from the project but also the constraints you might have.
To enable proper comparisons, do not hesitate to specify in your RFP a few expectations of the proposal and from the consultant, for example, you can include:
- A description of the objectives pursued, the approach and deliverables, the planning for the project highlighting the key milestones as well as the project management structure proposed (including the contribution required from the client).
- Demonstration of competence, also the consulting firm should provide references on similar projects (industry/capability), the CVs of the actual consultants that are expected to work on the project and examples of thought leadership they have produced in the field.
- Fees and workload should be detailed enough to enable a clear understanding of the cost structure associated with the project.
Finally, you should describe how the Q&A between sending RFP and receiving the proposal will be organized. When should the question be sent? How will the answers be shared with the consulting providers.
5. Sharing your decision’s criteria –
Your selection criteria and expectations of the proposal have to be explicit. In principle, you know already how you will perform the selection. If not, well, that is the right moment to think about it. Selection criteria are usually a blend of components such as:
- The capability of the firm to get the job done – Leveraging feedback from previous clients on previous projects.
- The expertise of the firm in the required field – Ideally, the consulting firm should provide some thought leadership or position papers in the niche.
- The clarity of the approach and the deliverables – You need to understand if the deliverables are those you expect but also to understand how the consultant intends to get there.
- The composition of the team – You need to make sure that the consultants who will work on the project daily have the right seniority and experience.
- The fit with the company – In short, do you think you will work well together? Will they have the right impact and recognition with your peers?
- The price of the project – Can you afford their services? Are you getting a clear value for your money? Are there hidden fees to be considered?
As you can see, these considerations are much broader than the sole price. Even though there is no magic formula using clear criteria, communicating them to the Consulting firms early in the process is key for getting a high-quality proposal, and taking informed and fair decisions.
6. Providing schedule and budget clues –
Whether your project is urgent or not, you likely have a timeline in mind. Or at least some internal deadlines or meetings. Knowing your schedule for the project is key for the consulting candidates. It will directly impact the team composition and the cost of the project.
Users and buyers rarely include their budget in the RFP. However, if you are on a very tight budget, it can make sense to include that information in the RFP to make sure that you don’t lose time for proposals you cannot afford. Besides, the consultants will be able to come up with trade-offs or design-to-cost proposals.
7. Indicating your other requirements –
You might have other requirements that you want to include in your RFP. For instance, you might be interested in having references and contact information to check the references. You can also have some eligibility criteria linked to your internal procurement policies. Maybe your consulting providers have to be registered as a provider.
8. Giving a single point of contact –
You also need to define the main point of contact during the process. Will it be someone from procurement, one of the executives, or even a third party? All the interactions with Consulting firms during the RFP process should go through that person. Letting the Consulting firms connect directly with the Executives of their choice would give an advantage to the incumbents and distort the competition.
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