RFP Process Guide

RFP Process Guide
Article by Zarah AriolaZarah Ariola
Last Updated: June 04, 2023

Your company's success may depend on your RFP process — particularly how refined and specific it is. Without an effective request for proposal process, you will likely lose money and time looking for the right service vendor.

We already explained what a request for proposal (RFP) is. This article outlines an efficient RFP process that provides a competitive advantage and attracts the right suppliers for your project.

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What Is an RFP Process?

RFP process is a series of steps an organization needs to take to prepare, draft, and issue an RFP: an open request document for bids to complete a project.

The purpose of an RFP process is to collect, articulate, and specify the business requirements, open competition between vendors, and encourage a variety of service or solution proposals the company requires.

The 6 Essential RFP Process Steps

  1. Assemble Your Team
  2. Collect Business and Solution Requirements
  3. Draft the RFP
  4. Distribute Your RFP
  5. Review Vendor Responses
  6. Negotiate and Sign the Contract

Following the steps below can set your organization on the right track for an RFP process:

1. Assemble Your Team

Put together a team that will be responsible for all RFP stages. This team should consist of all the relevant people in your organization who can contribute – from stakeholders, the person(s) who will draft the RFP, the approvers, etc. Assigning a project manager is vital as they ensure the RPF process is on track and meets the set deadlines.

2. Collect Business and Solution Requirements

When looking for a service or solution provider, provide prospective vendors with the background and the context to understand your business and its needs. Make a simple and concise RFP document and provide crucial information about your business. Knowing the exact issues you wish to address will empower vendors to respond adequately.

Below are the four vital areas of discovery that you should consider when gathering your business and solution requirements.

2.1. Purpose

All stakeholders must be on the same page about your organization’s needs:

  • What solution are you looking for?
  • What issue or challenge do you need to solve?
  • Are you looking for a one-time project or permanent support?

Use the answers to these questions to detail the purpose of your RFP, set the expectations, and ensure you get proposals from the most qualified vendors.

2.2. Objectives

In your RFP, explain what goals your business is trying to achieve. Ask your stakeholders how they expect the vendor to help you reach your goals. What will be the role a vendor will play in helping you achieve success?

2.3. Criteria for Evaluation

How will you rank and score the proposals? What is the most important information that will help you make the decision? Price, the estimated timeline, customer experience, or something else? During the collection of requirements, discuss the most important ranking factors with your team.

2.4. Supplemental Request

When providing information about the solution or service you want to buy, remember that any extra features or benefits you mention are not necessary requirements. Instead, think of them as "nice to have" additions that would make the vendor's offering more appealing to you. This approach will encourage vendors to emphasize these extras if they provide them without making vendors who don't offer them feel discouraged.

3. Draft the RFP

At this stage, the team who writes the RFP drafts the document following the structure below to successfully illustrate vendor expectations.


Offer a summary of the project you want to procure a vendor for. Make it brief, with a few main points, and explain who you are as an organization — what you do, what your industry is, etc. Make sure you also include the proposal's due date.

Company Background

Provide detailed information about your organization — your objectives, mission, similar projects you had in the past, info about the people in your company who will review the proposals, etc.

Project Description

Be as detailed as possible when explaining what the vendor needs to provide, what tasks they need to complete, or the products you need to obtain. Include the entire scope of work detailing specific duties that you need them to perform.

Proposal Requirements

List all the information you want vendors to provide in the proposals they submit. Think of it as an instruction manual for suppliers responding to your RFP.

Expectations From Vendors

Outline what you, as an organization, expect from vendors in terms of price, deadlines, communication, and other factors that can help you identify the best proposals. Including the budget would help you narrow your search to companies that work at suitable rates.

The Selection Criteria

Explain the criteria for choosing the winning vendor once they all send RFP responses. If you include this explanation, suppliers will be able to provide more targeted proposals and will make your decision easier.

Timelines and Deadlines

Include a due date for proposals, payment schedule, due dates by which you must sign a contract with the vendor, or a date by which a vendor must supply the service or solution.

4. Distribute Your RFP

Once the RFP is completed and reviewed, distribute it to potential vendors. One way to do it is to create an RFP web page with an online form requesting all relevant vendor information and a downloadable, editable document version.

Email potential suppliers a broad overview of the process and include a link to the RFP webpage with more detailed info. Don’t forget to mention major deadlines and direct contact info in your initial communication.

5. Review Vendor Responses

With the criteria you set in your RFP, review the proposals to find the most qualified service provider. To facilitate the evaluation process, ask yourself these questions:

  • Did they provide a timely and adequate proposal?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Will the vendor be able to scale as your business grows to meet your future needs?
  • Are they members of a trusted organization, trade association, or certified by a government agency?
  • Do they have experience working in your market or in a similar industry?

Narrow your list of preferred vendors to two to five and set up virtual or live interviews to ask them specific questions about the team and their processes.

To help you shortlist the preferred suppliers, consider the following steps:

  • Compare critical factors to vendor strengths
  • Identify differentiation factors for an in-depth comparison

6. Negotiate and Sign the Contract

After identifying the best fit for your project, you must negotiate the terms — the rates, the deadlines, and the deliverables. The RFP process is finished once both parties have agreed to the contract’s terms. After signing a contract, the vendor can start working on delivering the services to realize your project.

Get connected with the right agency for your project.

Who Are the Key Figures in the RFP Process Flow?

Approximately 55% of organizations have a dedicated person or team in charge of the RFP process. The team should consist of the following members:

  • RFP consultant. The person responsible for understanding clients’ needs. They explain RFP requirements and help select the most qualified vendors. They also may assess vendor qualifications and facilitate communication with them.
  • Procurement professionals. Individuals responsible for coordinating the RFP creation by working with internal teams to establish the organization’s pain points and what would solve them. They communicate your initial request with the vendor, oversee the progress and evaluate vendor responses.
  • Chief financial officer. A CFO evaluates the cost and ROI of the RFP to decide if the requested solution is financially viable.
  • Company stakeholders. A business unit that requests the product or service and determines what it should accomplish and what results it should generate. They also take part in evaluating and scoring an RFP response.

Key Figures in the RFP Process

How Long Does an RFP Process Take?

Although there is no definite answer regarding the duration of the RFP process (each procurement project is unique and looks to solve specific challenges), you can brainstorm and establish an approximate timeline for your RFP process based on:

  • Any research that needs to be done
  • The first RFP draft
  • Stakeholders reviewing the draft
  • The document being sent to vendors
  • Deadline of RFP responses

When you have an idea of how long each of these RFP stages will take, then you are close to estimating the total duration of your RFP process, from gathering requirements to signing a contract with the vendor.

RFP Process Challenges

77% of procurement professionals think their RFP process isn’t ideal. Still, since RFPs can generate 35% of a company’s sales revenue, avoid these challenges that can frustrate clients and vendors:

  • Vendor preselection. When vendors feel the RFP is just a formality because some vendors are already favored.
  • Insufficient vendor evaluation. Including vendors without proper consideration or evaluation.
  • Including incompetent vendors. Adding vendors without the necessary qualifications or experience who don't meet the specified criteria.
  • Lack of organization. Initiating the RFP without being adequately prepared.
  • Excessive and irrelevant questions. Overloading the RFP with unnecessary or unrelated questions.
  • RFP as Leverage. Using the RFP solely to negotiate better terms with existing vendors.
  • Lack of stakeholder engagement. Not all stakeholders thoroughly review RFP responses.
  • Delayed or inadequate communication. Vendors are not receiving timely and clear responses.
  • Disproportionate RFP size. Lengthy RFPs for small deals can make top-notch vendors give up on participating.

Addressing these challenges can improve the RFP process for all parties involved.

Top Agencies to Outsource Your Projects to in 2023

  1. Daniel James Consulting
  2. Anderson Collaborative
  3. N-iX
  4. Consensus Creative
  5. Brandefy
  6. Scalee
  7. Trolley Web
  8. Studio Up
  9. Division Web Design
  10. Eye Popper Digital LLC
  11. Bottle Rocket Media
  12. Votary Films

Below, you’ll find a list of the top-notch agencies to whom you can outsource your RFP project:

1. Daniel James Consulting

  • Location: 2125 Albany Post Road, Montrose, New York 10548, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $125/hr
  • Expertise: Branding, Logo Design, SEO, PPC...

Daniel James Consulting provides extensive business consulting services and interconnected deliverables tailor-made to individual needs, goals, companies and industries, coupled with their extensive knowledge of digital technologies and successful implantation of brand development and marketing elements.

The award-winning agency with client retention of more than 7 years that has serviced over 200 companies, tailors services in customized packages for any business or presents an a la carte solutions menu developed to decrease turnaround time while increasing deliverables with measurable goals.

2. Anderson Collaborative

  • Location: 4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd Suite 470, Miami, Florida 33146, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: Influencer Marketing, Digital Marketing, Graphic Design, Website Development...

Anderson Collaborative has led high-level marketing strategy for hundreds of businesses both small and large. The employees, specialists, contractors, and partners work hard every day to ensure that they are delivering their company promise and trusted results to clients spanning across countless industries.

At the offices of the Collaborative the dream-big team is solving the marketing problems of today with the strategies of tomorrow. Their uniquely comprehensive approach to digital strategy is helping clients across the United States find success in their marketing and promotional efforts.

3. N-iX

  • Location: 157 Archbishop St., Valletta, VLT 1440, Malta
  • Average Hourly Rate: $60/hr
  • Expertise: Web Design, Software Development, Google App Engine Development, Google Apps

Founded in 2002, N-iX is a software development company with presence in countries in the US and Europe. Their main services are custom software solutions, team extension, product discovery and technology consulting.

The N-iX team has broad expertise that spans digital transformation, data analytics, cloud computing, embedded software, IoT, UI/UX, QA and testing, AI, machine learning, data science and other technologies.

They have formed strategic partnerships with global industry leaders and Fortune 500 companies. Clients include Gogo, Lebara, Currencycloud, Fluke and Discovery Limited.

4. Consensus Creative

  • Location: 18 King Street East, Suite 1400, Toronto, M5C 1C4, Canada
  • Average Hourly Rate: $120/hr
  • Expertise: Web Design, Web Development, WordPress Development, UI/UX Design...

For all things website, you can entrust your projects to Consensus Creative — a team composed of experts in web development and design.

Consensus Creative helps businesses rank on Google and gain more customers through stunning custom designs and websites optimized for performance and conversion. They offer unlimited design revisions, quick turnaround times and website maintenance and support.

They can also help add substance to your website with expert content writing and editing.

5. Brandefy

  • Location: 2633 Lincoln Blvd #406, Santa Monica, California 90405, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $100/hr
  • Expertise: Video Production and Video Marketing.

Meet Brandefy, an award-winning, full-service video production agency based in Los Angeles, CA.

First founded in 2011, Brandefy has an undeniable well of knowledge when it comes to all things video production and marketing. By creating attention-grabbing videos for both TV and website marketing, Bradefy takes a customer-focused approach to ensure that your needs are wholly met in terms of budget, requirements and deadlines.

Brandefy prides itself on its ability to stay one step ahead of its competition by expertly integrating proven strategies and responsible practices into its video production process. Showcasing itself as a one-stop-shop for all your video production needs, Bradefy offers services such as:

  • TV Production: Commercials, DRTV, documercials, and infomercials;
  • Web Videos: Corporate videos, explainer videos, animated logos, and sizzle reels;
  • Distribution: Media buying, internet distribution, video search engine, and optimization (VSEO).

6. Scalee

  • Location: 51 Sherif Khimshiashvili St, Batumi, Georgia
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire.
  • Expertise: Custom Development, MVP, Promotion Research, Prototype Development, Marketing Analysis & Benchmarking...

With ultimate creativity at its core, Scalee houses a team of seasoned development and marketing experts whose focus is solely on growing your business (both in strategy and execution); and takes your napkin-sketch ideas and turns them into full-fledged, success-driven products.

Wondering about Scalee’s process and how they can help you? Scalee bolsters clients to determine their audience and needs, packs their ideas into MVP, and conducts marketing tests to assist with pitch deck creation. Thereby ensuring that all your primary bases are covered.

From analyzing your brand and concept, developing your prototype and defining your target audience to creating powerful promotion and marketing strategies, Scalee takes your ideas and molds them into their most perfect versions before launching them to the forefront of your industry.

7. Trolley Web

  • Location: 1431 N Clayton St. Apt A, Wilmington, Delaware 19806, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire.
  • Expertise: Digital Design, Web Design, Small Business Website Design, SEO...

Trolley Web is a web development company located in Wilmington, Delaware. They provide custom and express websites and build high-performing, fully functional websites in 10 days or less.

Their team of designers and copywriters do the heavy lifting, minimizing clients' time commitment so they can stay focused on your business. In just three review sessions, you'll end up with a stunning customized website that will improve your search rankings and impress your customers.

Clients include The Centre For Cosmetic Surgery & Medicine, Pets for Vets and GllespieHall.

8. Studio Up

  • Location: Via Esopo 8, Milan, 20100, Italy
  • Average Hourly Rate: $100
  • Expertise: 360° Digital Services, Digital Strategy, Branding, Logo Design...

Studio Up's main focus is creating fantastic custom websites that incorporate a good digital strategy. They identify the brand values, create moodboards and a specific set of rules to best communicate the brand of their clients. This is their starting point to design logos, letterheads, business cards and everything else that a business needs to grow.

Regarding their SEO strategy, they select the keywords, analyze the competitors' positioning, build links and write optimized content. The agency also provides detailed periodic reports.

Clients include Coca Cola, Park Hyatt, Lenovo and others.

9. Division Web Design

  • Location: 1521 Main St., Rahway, New Jersey 07036, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $75
  • Expertise: B2B Website Design, Social Media Marketing, Local SEO, eCommerce Consulting, WooCommerce Development...

Division Web Design transforms your online presence with a scalable solution geared toward growth and user interaction. Their Design and Marketing Specialists will work closely with you to understand your business needs, goals, and website requirements. They build clean, modern websites geared toward business growth, customer sales, and engagement, as well as user experience and curiosity.

The agency spends time developing ways to creatively showcase your products and services and their eeb design involves critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create an engaging website for your target audience.

Clients include Yanco China, The Education Trust - New York, Kerry and others.

10. Eye Popper Digital LLC

  • Location: 696 Pine St. Herndon, Va. 20170
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: Digital Strategy, Branding, Web Design, Advertising...

Eye Popper Digital is the premier digital advertising technology and website solutions firm. They provide digital marketers with a more powerful and holistic solution to advertise across all ad formats, screens and platforms.

To amplify reach and engagement they can deploy an array of tactics which may include Video, Mobile, Native, Audio, Social, Search and Display. Eye Popper Digital leverages an integrated ecosystem of partners for data, inventory, brand safety and fraud prevention, offering unparalleled solutions.

Clients include FanDuel, BigTeams, rumbo.

11. Bottle Rocket Media

  • Location: 415 N. Aberdeen St, Suite 1, Chicago, Illinois 60642, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $200/hr
  • Expertise: Small Business Branding, Video Production, Creative, Instagram Marketing, Video Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing.

First founded in 2010 and based out of Chicago, Bottle Rocket Media is a video production and marketing agency that covers a horde of industries. Whether tackling projects big or small, Bottle Rocket Media’s end goal is always the same: creating beautiful content for brands to advertise.

They are a full-service agency that (apart from marketing and video production) offers script writing, producing, casting, storyboards, style boards, 2D and 3D animation, and voiceover talent, which all but ensures that your content attracts eyeballs.

Bottle Rocket Media also has an impressive client list, which includes Dyson, United Airlines, American Girl and the Chicago Cubs.

12. Votary Films

  • Location: 25 Union Street, Worcester, Boston, Massachusetts 01608, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $200
  • Expertise: Video Production, Digital Advertising, Creative

The founder, Jed Burdick, started Votary in 2007 to use his love of film to provide for his wife and 5 boys. Since that day, the agency has been pursuing authentic storytelling as a team of creatives. Votary’s highest values are using creativity for good, being kind & courageous, and continually improving.

They want to take care of their partners and guide them to success through strategic films. It also represents new heights and levels of achievement- for clients as well as their collective of filmmakers. They want to fly with passion, burn with creativity and bring momentum to everything their hands touch.

RFP Process Takeaways

An efficient and well-structured RFP process is essential for a successful procurement process with any business consulting company or other fields.

It can be used to produce:

It can make the difference between losing and making money for the organization and is a sure-proof way of attaining the quality service or solution needed for the realization of any project.

The fundamental steps of any RFP process include:

  • Assembling a team in charge of the RFP process
  • Collecting business requirements
  • Drafting the RFP document
  • Sending out RFP to vendors
  • Reviewing vendor responses
  • Negotiating and signing the contract

RFP Process FAQs

1. What does RFP mean?

RFP stands for Request for Proposal. Businesses create an RFP document to collect bids or proposals from potential vendors or suppliers. It outlines the organization's requirements and expectations for a particular project and invites interested parties to submit their proposals, including details about their offerings, pricing, and other relevant information.

The RFP helps the organization gather and evaluate different proposals and decide which vendor or supplier to select.

2. What is the difference between RFP and RFQ?

The main difference between an RFP (Request for Proposal) and an RFQ (Request for Quotation) is that RFP is sent when a business wants to gather detailed proposals from potential vendors or suppliers. It seeks detailed information about a service. An RFQ is sent when businesses know what specific service they want to purchase and need price quotes.

3. What are the key components of RFP?

The key components of an RFP include an introduction, company background, project description, proposal requirements, vendor expectations, selection criteria, and deadlines.

4. What are the key components of RFP?

Critical components of RFP include the following:

  • Team assembling
  • Collect business and solution requirements
  • Drafting the RFP
  • Distributing the RFP
  • Reviewing vendor responses
  • Negotiating and signing the contract

5. What should not be included in RFP?

An RFP shouldn’t include the following:

  • Preference towards specific vendors
  • Sensitive company information or trade secrets
  • Unrealistic or overly restrictive requirements
  • Detailed implementation plans (instead of specifying an implementation plan, the RFP should highlight desired outcomes and allow vendors to propose solutions)
  • Lengthy or excessive documentation
  • Discriminatory or biased language
  • Irrelevant or unnecessary questions

Confidential pricing information from other vendors (you must respect the confidentiality of vendors' proposals and not disclose their information to other participants).

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