Have you ever issued a website Request For Proposal Template and received limited responses? Did you wonder what went wrong and why design agencies failed to reply with earnest?
You’re not alone.
The breakdown in the RFP process can be attributed to both the RFP issuer and the RFP responders. And it is an issue that has been growing for years. Sure, you can get Request For Proposal Template from Jotforms and other online resources but you need to understand the subject before proceeding.
On the client side, a lot of companies fail to publish a solid RFP, which makes it difficult for agencies to respond or even take them serious. On the agency side, design firms have grown so jaded about poorly written RFP documents that many won’t even reply. This breakdown in the RFP process flow can be corrected.
A well-written, properly executed RFP can have a positive impact on the website design process. It can help articulate the project requirements and objectives, while also providing a method for obtaining an apples to apples comparison of website developers.
So now that we’ve moved past the validity of website RFPs, let’s move on to crafting one that works for both the client and the design agency.
While there are lots of agency blog posts ranting about the dangers of website RFP documents, there seems to be little information about fixing the problems within the RFP process. The posts that do offer help simply provide an RFP template that has little do so with the actual website design process.
Most of the RFPs I receive talk about the company’s creation, divisions, and other information that I can easily find on the About page of their website. Then the RFP will fail to provide key information about the actual project requirements. I don’t need to know your state of incorporation, but I do need to have a good understanding of your e-commerce needs such as product configuration, shipping requirements, and sales tax calculations.
Some RFP documents will clearly state a limitation on communication. And if I’m allowed a one on one call it is with an administrator who doesn’t actually know the ins and outs of the website’s current or future functionality. This is a major issue and it is a huge red flag for me. I need to be able to talk to you about your project, so I can help formulate a solution. I also want to get a feel for the people behind the company so I can determine if we are an adequate fit.
I have literally had people ask for a “Facebook like” website and then tell me their budget is minimal. Ok folks, Facebook did not become the powerhouse it is with a minimal budget. If your budget is low, that’s okay. We just need to make sure your requirements list is in line with the allowable budget.
If you want to know if I have professional liability insurance, I do and I’m happy to answer that question because it pertains to your project and the need to limit risk. I will even provide a copy of my liability and my errors and omissions insurance certificates so you can validate my claims. If you need a complete resume for every member of the project team, I’m not going to provide it because it is irrelevant. Ask for information that provides value and not simply because it was part of a RFP template you downloaded from the web.
This is another showstopper for me, because RFP responses take time. They take time to understand the project needs and objectives, they take time to formulate a digital solution, and they take time to assemble an adequate response. I cannot do this within a week and if I do, my response will be weak. If your first attempt at the website RFP failed and you need to send it to a new batch of developers, adjust the date so that you can receive quality, well thought out responses.
If you download an RFP template from the web, make sure you update it to match the nature of your company and the requirements of your project. Make it your own and make it work for your firm. The more time you put into crafting a strong RFP, the more time design agencies will take in replying to it.
. They might work great for commodity products, but for highly customizable service projects, the RFP process creates a challenging process flow that limits discovery and the personalized creation of a solution.
No matter how hard I try to put a positive swing on website RFPs, the bottom line is a lot of the vendor selection will be made on price and timing. The danger in this is in communities like WordPress have a wide range of service providers that vary from very cheap, bottom feeders to very high-end design agencies. If you allow price to be a major part of the decision process, you could very well end up with a developer or design agency that lacks the abilities to execute. Your website is your path to the digital world and provides an avenue for you to reach an endless number of prospects and customers. It is your most important digital asset and this asset should not be defined by price alone.
There are lots of very good WordPress firms who won’t reply to Request For Proposal Templates and this is a problem. Clients are missing out on some very strong agency expertise, as well as missing out on acquiring some stellar WordPress talent.
If I could correct this for all parties, I would do so. Since I can’t, I’ll just pledge to faithfully reply to any website RFP that is solid.
We, at Moz Web Development, the leading web design company in kolkata, always value quality. Let’s collectively change the way the world views and utilizes website RFPs. You can do that by providing strong RFP documents and I can assist by providing solution driven responses.
While agencies don’t need an entire company history provided, having a brief overview will help them get a quick baseline for who you are. Provide a link to additional information such as your website About page.
Having an understanding of what you offer helps agencies grasp some additional basics about the project. If the agency has prior experience with similar product or service companies, the team can start to make connections to prior work. An example of this would be my background with ERP software. If someone came to me with a project for ERP software, my mind will quickly jump to work within the ERP industry and best practices for selling to multiple stakeholders inside and outside of the C-level suite. I think about the pain points of their target audience and the marketing tactics that work with this type of sales process. I would think about white papers and software demos and very focused call to actions. And all of that happened because the RFP informed me about the product offering.
Knowing your target demographic helps agencies understand factors like possible design style and accessibility requirements.
Discuss what is prompting the website redesign and what led you to issuing an RFP. If you’ve gone through this process already and have had failed attempts, let us know that too. This information will help us know if we are a suitable fit for you and the project itself. No one wants another failure, so the more we know about the history, the more we can help drive success.
RFPs that present selected technology (in WordPress this would be plugins) can only describe solutions that the client already sees. When you’re hiring a developer, you’re hiring them to come up with solutions that you haven’t been trained to see. If you explain your pain points and existing issues, the developer can create the best solution based on their experience and knowledge.
Overly restrictive RFPs that discourage direct communication will most likely be ignored. As a possible technology partner, I want to build a relationship with you. This means I need to communicate with you one on one. If you are serious about an agency, let them get on the phone with key members of the internal project team so they can fully understand your needs and requirements.
Designers and developers are creative folks. As such they don’t work well in restricted formats like an RFP response template that is many years old. Give the prospective agencies the required information and let them reply in a format that best articulates their capabilities, strengths, and solution.
There are a few more items that I consider very important, although they can be sticky subjects.
Providing a budget range will help agencies understand their constraints. This let’s the estimating team know the scale in which they can propose solutions. This helps the developers know if they can create custom code or if they have to use an off-the-shelf solution that may or may not have all the required features. This also helps the design team quantify the process (wireframes and design comps) and volume of custom design (unique design templates within the website). It will also help prevent sticker shock when the proposal arrives.
One of the most common issues agencies have with RFPs centers around timelines that are far too short. Unrealistic project timetables can force an experienced firm to exit the selection process simply because they know they cannot launch a successful project within the timeframe given. Provide a realistic timeframe or range so you can garnish the best responses.
When I create a website proposal, I like to have as many requirements known as possible. Some of these are generic, while others are very specific to the look and feel or the functionality of the website itself. The more details I have at hand, the more knowledgeable I will be about a project and the more precise I can be with creating solutions and offering estimates.
Help me help you. Provide lots of details around your functional requirements. Go into great detail so I can help present the best solution for you and your new website.
Here are some website requirements to consider when creating your website Request For Proposal Template:
Because different firms will have different proposal templates, help them create a document tailored to you by setting expectations for the response. I wouldn’t suggest you dictate the format, but I do suggest you provide a list of key proposal deliverables.
These Request For Proposal Template deliverables could include:
Keep in mind the design agencies may not reply with all items listed by you in the Request For Proposal Template .
For example, I am happy to provide references, although I do not do so until I know we are on the shortlist of design firms. I do this to protect our existing clients so they are not inundated with requests for references. It is a courtesy to my clients and not an act of stubbornness.
One last reminder is to clearly define your RFP schedule, steps, and process. This can be efficiently done via a simple RFP schedule.
A sample website RFP schedule is as follows:
As I wrote this post, I was Skyping with an existing website design client named David Harper. I knew he would provide some excellent insight from the client side of this discussion.
David is very data driven and analytical. And even with personality type, he did not use an RFP in his process of selecting a design agency for this latest website project.
Once this caught my attention, I was surprised, so I thought I would just ask him about his selection process and why he did not use a website RFP.
Thankfully, David was kind enough to take the time to indulge me and provided insight into why he decided to forgo the RFP process as he interviewed WordPress designers.
Here are some great comments from my conversion with David:
Now, David is a highly intelligent man who typically knows exactly what he wants. He also “gets” technology and has gone through several dozen website projects in his lifetime. He knows what works and he knows this through experiencing his own set of project successes and failures.
Because of David’s intelligence and experience, I welcomed his comments and I wanted to share them with the readers of this blog post. And while everything David said above was very educational, the most important statement he made was this:
Relationships must come before any website RFP.
David, I have to admit, I don’t think I could have articulated that better myself. RFPs are great if they are accompanied by a solid relationship.