November 19, 2018 By Heather Serdoz, Content Marketing Specialist

In the agency world we see our fair share of RFP’s (Requests for Proposal) and if you’re in the services or consulting business you’re probably familiar with the process, but are you satisfied with the proposal in the end? We’re discussing how to properly put together an RFP so you get exactly what you’re looking for.

An RFP, essentially acts as the window to your company, giving potential agencies a look inside; therefore it’s important to compose them well. Good RFP’s lead to good proposals, good proposals lead to great working relationships, those relationships lead to well-produced projects and stellar outcomes. So how does it all work, where do you begin?

Digital Operative is breaking it all down for you, we’ll take you through the steps to writing the best replatforming RFP. We’re also including an RFP download, basically, we’re doing the heavy lifting for you, all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Continue reading to learn more, but if you’re just here for the download that’s fine too.

DOWNLOAD HERE!

Sending out an RFP is a pretty standard practice- potential clients determine a rough scope of work, assess the timeline and budget they have available and then proceed to reach out to agencies asking them to propose solutions. Below you’ll find the steps to crafting an RFP of your own. It’s worth noting that not every item listed below needs to be presented in this particular order, or grouped together in this way, nor do all of these items need to be included. Think of them as guidelines, just remember that the more useful details you can provide upfront will lessen the back and forth communication down the road. Let’s get started…

The Steps

Introductions & Background

The Intro- Take a moment to introduce your company and the purpose of this RFP. Briefly state what you want the agency to do and why. What is the central pain point you’re looking to alleviate? Since our subject matter revolves primarily around replatforming, take a moment to ask yourself what about your current situation isn’t working for you anymore? At this point keep things high level, the details will follow down below.

As you talk through your overview, rather than describing the solution you’re looking for, articulate the problem as best you can. This approach encourages Digital Operative to think outside the box to come up with a solution that fits your unique situation.

The Background- Talk us through your company, what it specializes in, and what you do. There is the chance we haven’t heard of you and may not be able to figure it out based off your website, hence the replatform. Talk us through your values, what makes your company unique, and why does what you do matter? When you take the time to describe your values, the chances of you finding a like-minded agency increase.


Project Description, Goals & Target Audience

What are you looking to accomplish? What outcomes do you have in mind? This is your opportunity to state, in great detail, what it is you’re looking for. Sometimes the answer to that questions isn’t as easy to determine, but the more clearly you can articulate what you want out of the process, the more likely you are to get what you want.

Have your concrete goals clearly defined. These are the pillars that Digital Operative will work to build your proposal around. In a similar vein when you’re working through your own goals for the site, think about what your goals for the visitors are- is it a sale, do you want them to download something, or would you like them to fill out a form? This deeper understanding of your goals and target audience makes the developers job that much clearer. This also means that when facing a hard decision, you’ll be guided more by objective rather than personal preference.


Scope of Work & Deliverables

Remember when we said there would be a place for the details, this is it. Here is where you’ll go into great detail about the project. It’s perfectly acceptable, at this point, to describe all the services you know that you’ll be hiring Digital Operative for. Below we’ve listed services to consider during a replatform project-

  • Website Structure
  • Products
  • Orders
  • RMA / Returns / Exchanges
  • Promotions
  • Content Management
  • 3rd Party Integrations
  • Email Service Provider
  • Marketing Software Integrations
  • Analytics
  • Web Design

Once you’ve locked down your own list of services, think about the deliverables you expect from each service. For example, Website Structure could include a sitemap and wireframes. While Content Management would be referring to the CMS system you use and whether or not you want Digital Operative to lead that migration or prefer to keep it in-house. The details in this section will help determine a timeline and estimate of cost.


Timeline

While you may not know how long certain tasks will take, you are privy to the bigger picture and you’ve got a timeline in which you’re looking to stick to. Maybe you need to be replatformed before a new product or ad campaign launches. Or maybe there’s a big event you’re participating in and you want the new site live by then. These details are imperative when you’re talking about your timeline.

Websites vary widely in their time to completion. Even the simplest sites can take several weeks. If you’re looking at a more complex replatform that timeline could easily stretch 9-12 months. The point is, be upfront about your timeline, that way Digital Operative can work to fulfill your needs.


Budget

Regardless of whether or not you have a hard budget to adhere to it’s vital you include your budget. Websites are like cars, you can get them anywhere from $5,000-$500,000, just remember you get what you pay for. Sure, you can find a bright young undergraduate to help you with your replatforming efforts, but a professional agency like Digital Operative will turn out professional grade work and our proposal will show you what that difference looks like.

It’s worth noting that if you do have a separate budget for assets like photography or software licenses please be sure to include that as well. While licensing and photoshoot costs can be rather manageable they do add up quickly and can end up eating up a large chunk of your budget if not properly attributed for.

Why is the budget so important? By stating explicitly what you want to pay, you allow Digital Operative to prescribe solutions for the most important items of the scope first. We’ll help you identify the top priorities and suggest moving the non-essentials into a later phase.


Criteria for Selection

The ultimate goal of sending out RFP’s is to acquire proposals that provide your company with appropriate, innovative solutions to your pain points all within your working budget. No doubt you’ll get a few proposals back, each agency will present different strengths, reputations, and capabilities.

How will you determine the path that best suits your needs? What are your criteria for selection? You’ll want to list out your submission guidelines and requirements. Below is a list of requirements Digital Operative has seen in previous RFP’s over the years-

  • Determining a date that you would like bidders with the intent of submitting a proposal to notify you by
  • Request examples of similarly-complex projects to assess technical capability
  • Request that a technical proposal provides an overview of the proposed solution. In addition, request the technical proposal provide a proposed schedule and milestones, as applicable
  • Bidders should provide a budget breakdown
  • Require that proposals must be signed by a representative who is authorized to commit the agency’s company
  • State the final date when proposals are due.
  • Indicate a period of time proposals will remain valid for so that your company has time to review and select a candidate.

Format & Proposal Timeline

How are you hoping to review said proposals? Does it need to be submitted in a particular format? What’s the timeline for submitting? Typically there’s a deadline for receipt, then selecting semi-finalists, scheduling the interviews and the final selection. Do the semi-final interviews need to be in person or is your company okay with a remote interview? These questions are all relatively standard, but easy to overlook.

Lastly, how much detailed information do you require about the vendor? Do you need those granular details like names, titles, and the bios of the team members working on your proposal? Most RFP’s are pretty standard and can be similar from project to project. However, if there are specific, unusual, or detailed information you need from the agency you should include it in a separate paragraph, this way you ensure it’s not lost in the shuffle.


Wrapping Up

Remember, you don’t have to become an expert in web design and development to write an RFP, you’ve just got to establish clear goals, provide the right details and solicit useful information, the rest will be history!

Get going, download your RFP Worksheet here!

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