How To Write an RFP

Request for Proposal

An RFP (Request for Proposal) or an RFQ (Request for Quote) is a document sent out by a company looking to purchase a product or service from another company. Several companies will bid on work as a result of receiving an RFP, leading to competitive pricing for the purchaser to choose from. It's important to complete an RFP correctly so that a bid is considered by a purchaser and not thrown out for inaccuracy or an incomplete submittal. To be sure that you write an RFP correctly, follow these steps.

Step 1

Do some research. The first step in writing an RFP is to determine what your company is going to be seeking from other companies or service providers. Determine exactly what your company needs (i.e.: a bread oven with a capacity of 100 loaves) so that those vying for the job can provide the most accurate quote. Over-stating your needs as a company will bring in larger quotes for items that exceed your needs and your budget. By determining exactly what your needs are, you can provide the best details in your RFP and receive the most economical quotes. (Of course, take into consideration any upcoming expansion or projected increases in your needs when writing your request for proposal).

Step 2

Ensure you haven't confused needs with wants. Decide if all the bells and whistles are necessary when writing your RFP or RFQ. You should have already determined exactly what you need (and no more), but it's important to look over your RFP to ensure that it includes nothing that you can do without (wants). If you would like to consider options for things that you want but don't necessarily need in an RFP, use words like ‘may', ‘can' and ‘optional' to differentiate between the necessary items in your RFP (as determined by words like ‘will', ‘shall' and ‘must'). This vocabulary helps bidders to separate what is necessary to quote and what they can optionally quote. (Including a few optional wants in your RFP may lead to contractors sending in several quotes or options.)

Step 3

Organize an RFP professionally. Any written documentation made publically available by your company, such as an RFP, should be professionally written. You may want to start with an outline if your company writes few RFPs. Or use a template from a previous RFP you've created. You'll need a section for each of the following: introduction, requirements, selection criteria, timelines, and process. Of course, you'll likely have subsections in each of these sections and you may want to include other sections. It will all vary depending on what product or service your RFP is for. In general, each section should contain the following:


  • Purpose of RFP
  • Summary of key points from other sections
  • Sentence including due date: "Eligible bids must be received by our company no later than 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 3rd, 2009". (Include the time zone if necessary.)
  • Sentence including the terms "Our Company requests proposals for a __________".


  • Mention the specific needs for the product (size, capacity, or other functions)

Selection Criteria

  • Let bidders know how you will choose the winning bidder (mentioning that the decision is solely up to your company)
  • If you choose, you can also include your scoring criteria on how each RFP will be scored


  • Let contractors know when proposals or bids are due (ensure that you set a reasonable deadline considering the needs of your requests like technical drawings, approval and so on)
  • Let bidders know how long your company will take to evaluate each bid, and then give a projected date that they can expect to learn the winner for the job
  • Include a sentence mentioning delivery timelines, should their RFP be chosen


  • Describe how the entire process will work, from sending out the RFP to determining the winning bidder and how soon work needs to be completed

Once you've successfully written your RFP or request for proposal, it's time to send it out to potential contractors. Organize everything into a professional document and send it via registered mail if you desire. Find vendors from professional lists or work with previous contractors. Send out your RFP and you'll have bids coming in before you know it.


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