I’ve responded to many intranet requests for proposals (RFPs) and wanted to share some thoughts on the process to help ensure the issuer of the RFP receives a successful bid and makes the process smoother for everyone involved.

Share Your Vision

Articulate a clear vision for your intranet project. This includes outlining your goals, the challenges you aim to address, and how you envision the intranet enhancing your organization’s operations. A well-defined vision enables us to align their proposals with your strategic objectives.

“Our envisioned intranet will be a central repository for organizational knowledge, promoting a culture of continuous learning and information sharing, making it easier for employees to access and retrieve information.”

Engage in Pre-RFP Conversations

Before issuing the RFP, consider having preliminary discussions with potential vendors. This engagement can provide valuable insights into the latest market trends, potential challenges, and innovative solutions. It also helps vendors understand your unique needs and tailor their responses accordingly.

Detail Specific Requirements

Be precise about your technical and functional requirements, including which are mandatory vs. nice-to-have. This includes user experience expectations, integration with existing systems, security protocols, and compliance needs. Detailed requirements help us propose solutions that are closely aligned with your needs.  If you don’t have this, consider an RFP for performing just the requirements gathering.  This helps align the expectations of both parties.

“We want a stock ticker integration that will display our company’s stock price from a stock ticker service we’re subscribed to.  Clicking on the stock price should open to a new page that details the stock price performance.”

Transparency in Budget and Timelines

Be transparent about your budget constraints and project timelines. This honesty allows vendors to propose realistic and viable solutions, avoiding unnecessary complications or overpromising during the project execution phase.

“We’re targeting 75K for this intranet project.  If your proposal exceeds that amount, there should be some persuasive features or services to justify the cost.  We would like to launch by early/mid Q3 of this fiscal year.”

Include Evaluation Criteria

Clearly state the criteria you will use to evaluate proposals. Vendors can then focus on these areas, ensuring their proposal aligns with your priorities. Criteria might include innovation, cost-effectiveness, vendor experience, and post-implementation support.

“Proposals will be evaluated on the following:

  1. Past performance/references
  2. Price
  3. Past experience working with organizations similar to ours in scale and scope
  4. Status as a small business”

Request a Comprehensive Project Plan

Ask for a detailed project plan in the proposal. This should include the implementation strategy, timelines, resource allocation, and plans for training and support. A thorough plan demonstrates the vendor’s preparedness and reliability.

Share Information Equally

If you have a Q&A period, send a compilation of all questions and answers to all responders.

Set a Reasonable Deadline for Responses

Provide a realistic deadline for RFP responses. This shows respect for the time and effort required to craft a comprehensive proposal, leading to more thoughtful and well-prepared submissions.

Set a Reasonable Date to Share the Outcome

Allow yourself ample time to review the responses, have discussions with top submissions, and choose a winner.  Share the results with everyone who submitted a response.  It’s discouraging to have spent so much time and effort into crafting a response and then not be notified of the results.  If you want to show real appreciation for those who submitted a response, give them some honest feedback about what their response lacked or how their response could be improved.

Issuing an RFP is a lot of work.  I hope the thoughts I’ve shared can help make your life easier the next time you’re looking to issue an intranet RFP.  If you need help writing an intranet RFP that is informative yet discerning, we can help.  Let’s talk!

Compass365, a Microsoft Gold Partner, delivers SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, and Power Platform solutions that help IT and Business leaders improve the way their organizations operate and how their employees work.