We have read and responded to countless Requests for Proposals (RFPS)over the years. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are long, verbose, and quite frankly a drag to read and respond to. On the other hand, some are short, scant on detail, and leave us craving more information.
So what’s the sweet spot?
In this post, we’ll summarize the key characteristics of a good RFP, so that you can receive the best proposals possible for your website redesign. A good website redesign RFP includes the following:
Describe your project at the highest level by concisely stating what the project is and why now is the right time for it. For instance, you might say that you are redesigning your website because you have undergone some strategic changes, have outgrown your existing site, or have a new brand identity, and your website needs to be a reflection of these evolutionary changes.
About the Organization
Describe the mission and purpose of your organization. Keep it as brief with the understanding that candidates are going to do their homework. If needed, elaborate on any organizational changes that inspire the need for a new website such as new leadership, new branding, new models, new priorities, etc.
Scope of Work
Describe key aspects of your project in more detail. Here’s what we recommend:
- Summarize the objectives: Focus on what you want the new website to accomplish by describing the outcomes you want to achieve. For instance, rather than saying you want to “improve the user experience” you might say you want to “create an improved understanding of your priorities” or “better inform prospective grantees of your grantmaking strategies”. You may have also measurable goals like increasing donations or membership signups by 20%—these are tangible goals that the website can support.
- List any special features: List any feature that feels unique to your site or the outcomes you hope to achieve. For instance, you might require a specific level of accessibility compliance, a marquee feature such as a data visualization dashboard, grant search, complex maps, or a membership application.
- Include technical requirements: Provide an overview of the platforms that are needed to support the website. For instance, you should include details about the desired Content Management System (CMS), desired integrations with third-party platforms such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, email marketing tools, donation platform, etc.
Gather fundamental information about the agencies and their approach. Ask for these details outright, but avoid being overly prescriptive about the format they are shared in. This flexibility will allow the candidates to determine the best possible format for their proposal. This approach allows you to see their aptitude for clear and creative communication—key facets of any successful website and client/partner relationship. We recommend requesting the following information:
- Company overview
- Recommended approach
- Examples of related work
- Recommended timing
- Cost Estimate
Before you send an RFP, you should think through who at your organization will be responsible for facilitating and making decisions. We always encourage a small but focused team that is intimately aware of all the details as the project journey progresses. List these stakeholders in the RFP and note specific areas of interest or subject matter expertise that will be important to the project.
Include your desired timeline. Is there an event or other milestone driving your desired launch date? If so, include it. If you are flexible, state that as well, asking your selected agencies to give you a realistic timeline.
Yes, budget. Be transparent with the funds that you have allocated to the project. Not only does it remove the elephant from the room, but it sets a standard of transparency that will be important throughout the project. If you are cost-conscious, include a range and request that the agencies provide details on their pricing model.
If you’re unsure what your website redesign should cost, reach out to a handful of agencies requesting brief introductory calls before issuing your RFP. Most agencies will be happy to provide a ballpark estimate before creating a full proposal. We recommend this step regardless, as it gives you a chance to vet out potential candidates and narrow the field before requesting proposals.
Review & Selection Process
Selecting the right partner can be a tough decision, so don’t rush it. Make sure your RFP includes specific dates that bring clarity and accountability to the review process:
- Q&A period: Include a timeframe for agencies to submit their questions either in person or in writing and a date upon which you plan to respond. This is essential to ensuring your prospective partners have the clarity needed to write the best proposal possible.
- Intent to bid: This is an optional step, but it may be helpful for who will be submitting a proposal after the Q&A period, which may have filtered some prospective candidates out.
- Submission deadline: Include the date and time that you would like to receive the proposal.
- Finalist interviews: After reviewing proposals, you will likely narrow it down to the top 2-3 candidates. Include your timeframe for interviews before making your final decision. How you format those interviews is the fodder for another post, but they are possibly the most critical step in the process.
- Decision: Include the date upon which you hope to make a final decision.
Finally, don’t forget to leave out who the point person will coordinate the proposal submission process.
We hope that you have found this post helpful. Of course, there is no one size fits all approach to issuing an RFP. Each organization and its objectives are unique, but we hope this provides the insight you need to solicit the best proposals possible. It truly is the first step of any successful project.
If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact us!