Talk Turkey Before Your RFP
I started Big Duck back in 1994, when I was three years old. Since then, a lot has changed. (Al Gore invented the internet, for example! Have you heard? It’s really neat!)
And, of course, some things haven’t changed. For instance, the RFP (request for proposals) is still an often-used tool to help select vendors and partners.
Here are a few questions I find some of the smartest nonprofit staff people ask us first (via a quick phone call) before any RFPs have been issued, proposals written, or meetings held. They apply not only to communications, but to most areas you might hire a consultant, freelancer or agency to help with.
How does your process work? How long have you been doing it this way? What kinds of things can go wrong in this process and how do you manage when things go wrong?
What does it cost to work with you? How do you arrive at your fees? If your fees are based on the time a project takes, how do you estimate and track your time? How do changes in scope or timing impact your prices? Do you recieve referral fees from partners or others you might recommend to me along the way?
Who will I work with if I hire you? Am I working with a team or an individual, chiefly? How experienced are the people I’ll be working with?
How much time do you think it takes to do this work right? What are the variables that can impact timing?
What will I need to do to keep this project on track and help ensure its success? How will you help me stay on track?
Asking these questions early helps you make a list of well-qualified candidates, so the batch of proposals you’ll get back from them will be worth your time and consideration. The best, most qualified recipients (who are likely busy) are also more likely to respond if they’ve already spoken to you and perceive themselves to be on a ‘short list’, too.
Want more resources to help you hire outside help? Check out this article about reconsidering the traditional RFP process, too. I look forward to hearing from you.