Ideas, musings and inspirations.

As the director of new business development for Elliance, I spend a lot of time thinking about the strengths and services that we can provide for our clients. I’m very energized by the Elliance team, and I love bouncing ideas around with them and hearing their thoughts about what’s coming next in the digital world. We meet challenges, and that’s inspiring. Of course I also spend time responding to higher education RFPs and RFPs from other verticals as well, in branding, search, website development and more. And sometimes, those can be a challenge in themselves.

I’ve sat on both sides of the table so believe me, I understand that writing and releasing an RFP is tough. If you’re releasing an RFP for your institution, you’ve probably been thinking about the project for quite a while. But how thoroughly have you thought about the RFP process? That’s another story.

I’m writing on the Elliance blog here, so I can’t purport to be completely neutral on this topic. I always cheer for RFPs from engaged, exciting clients that I can answer in a creative way. But I can offer at least a little bit of advice. Here are my two cents.

Be clear about what you’re looking for. You’d be surprised at how much ambiguity there can be on this point. If you’re considering a branding project: do you want the brand to be defined? Or do you want a strategy for applying your brand to communication outlets? If you’re considering a website redesign: do you want a new design for your website? Or do you also want that design to be implemented and launched?

Be clear about why you’re releasing the RFP. The business need for your project should drive the shape of your solution, whether you’re working for a college, a bank or a farm. In order for the RFP response to target the real need, think about sharing those driving factors with respondents. It will help us craft targeted responses, and it will ensure that you get proposals that are going to achieve your objectives.

If you have questions, go ahead and say so. There are probably elements of your project that you need some help with. If not, you wouldn’t be releasing an RFP. Feel free to be up front about the areas where you need guidance and support. If there are areas that you haven’t yet decided on, then let your potential partners help you fill in the blanks. It’ll give us a chance to demonstrate how we’d shape your project, and it’ll give you a chance to find a partner who has an approach that you feel good about.

Writing RFPs can be tricky. Answering them can be, too. Fortunately, I’m an odd duck who enjoys responding to them. So if you’ve got RFP and you think Elliance might be of service to you, send it my way: kjennings@elliance.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Comments

  1. One other thought about RFPs: If you’re issuing the RFP, remember to leave time to answer questions. There are ALWAYS questions and some RFP providers fail to allow their respondents and themselves enough time to contemplate ideas or issues they’d not considered. Also, be open to new answers. Technology is always changing and surprising new ways of responding to problems continue to present themselves. Be open to these new ideas. You might find you’ll get a better solution to your problem than you’d ever imagined.

    • Carol, thanks for adding that. I so agree about the question period. For people who are releasing RFPs, it can only help to allow responders to get as much information as possible so they can produce a clear and appropriate response.

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