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Agency checklist: How to create compliant and effective RFxs

Developing RFxs is key to helping buyers find the right vendor but creating an effective RFx takes skill. In this article, we’ll share our top 10 DOs and DON’Ts on writing RFxs.

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Most suppliers respond to about two out of three invitations to submit a proposal. Suppliers are choosy about which invitations to respond to, and if they don’t respond to your RFx, that means less competition for your project. Here’s CompareCoOps top tips for creating compliant and effective RFxs.

  1. Review your organizational compliance; based on the value and/or complexity of the project there will be some obligations in terms of the approvals needed, the templates used and even the number of participants.
    1. DO read procurement compliance requirements and make sure that you comply
    2. DON’T split a larger project into smaller jobs just to avoid thresholds that would require you to do a public bid or more complex procurement.
  2. Whatever RFx template you use, make sure that you explain the background of your project.
    1. DO describe the problem and/or opportunity so that the suppliers understand the context of your project
    2. DON’T forget to mention constraints or related projects that impact your project that suppliers may not know about
  3. Ask a colleague to review your draft specification or scope of work. If it doesn’t make sense to them, it may not make sense to suppliers, either!
    1. DO focus on outcomes; if the project is successful, what will that look like?
    2. DON’T try to tell the supplier how to solve your problem unless you are more expert than them
  4. Match the pricing basis that you require from respondents to the degree of certainty of the scope of work
    1. DO request a fixed price if you have a defined and certain scope of work
    2. DON’T request a fixed price if you have an uncertain scope as you will attract a risk premium (an additional sum of money just-in-case)
  5. Develop an evaluation plan before you issue the RFx. It's easy to ask lots of questions, but think through how will you evaluate the responses
    1. DO match the evaluation criteria to the sources of value in the project
    2. DON’T have too many criteria as this will make your decision making harder and reduce the impact of each criterion on the final decision
  6. Distinguish between mandatory and qualitative criteria; mandatory criteria are pass/fail and qualitative criteria can be scored (for example out of ten)
    1. DO think through what is relevant to performance (such as prior performance on similar projects) and ensure that you ask questions about what matters
    2. DON’T have too many mandatory criteria as you may find that a capable supplier fails a criterion and is excluded
  7. Think about how many recipients you will invite to participate.
    1. DO ensure that you comply with the minimum number required by organizational requirements
    2. DON’T invite too many suppliers as this may alienate the suppliers and waste their time unnecessarily. More than five bidders may be more than enough!
  8. Be clear about the RFx compliance requirements
    1. DO be clear about the closing time and date, and give suppliers enough time to respond. Manage expectations about when you will advise them of the outcome of their proposal
    2. DON’T forget to give contact details for any questions, as what you think is clear may not be clear to the suppliers
  9. Arrange for the evaluation of the responses in a timely and compliant way
    1. DO follow your original evaluation plan and keep records of which supplier/s was successful and why
    2. DON’T fudge the evaluation process to choose a supplier that you like!
  10. Manage communication with key stakeholders inside and outside your organization
    1. DO brief the manager/s in your organization who can approve the recommendation and ‘sign off’ on your decision so their expectations are managed
    2. DON’T forget to inform the suppliers (successful and unsuccessful) of your decision and be prepared to debrief the unsuccessful suppliers if they request it

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Jennifer Sulentic 1sq

Jennifer Sulentic

Jennifer leads CompareCoOps in the US. With over ten years of experience at U.S. Communities and ProcureSource, she is well known and widely respected in the world of public procurement cooperative contracting.

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