I hope that you have enjoyed the article “RFP Templates:  Use ’em, Don’t Abuse ’em.”

Though the article was focused on adapting an RFP template for use as a real-world RFP, the same tips apply to using a sample RFP.  I distinguish a sample RFP from an RFP template as follows:

  • A sample RFP is a complete RFP for a product or service other than the product or service you plan to source.  Adapting a sample RFP to a real-life situation involves replacing language specific to the original product, service and/or situation.  In addition, you’ll have to add language that is necessary for your situation but not included in the sample RFP.
  • An RFP template is an RFP that has many “fill-in-the-blank” sections, where you insert language that is specific to the product or service you are buying.  The better RFP templates are those that don’t require you to scrutinize much-existing language to determine whether it applies to your situation or not.

Many RFP templates and almost all sample RFP’s contain language that doesn’t apply to the situation to which they are being adapted.  And that’s where the danger is.

If you include a requirement that doesn’t apply to your situation, the prospective bidders may be scared off by it.  For example, if your sample RFP was for construction services and your situation calls for an RFP for consulting services, there may be a paragraph addressing supplier insurance.  Because of the inherent dangers of construction services, you may be asking that bidders have certain insurance coverage that consultants typically don’t have.  Or, you may be asking for very high liability limits for types of insurance that both construction firms and consulting firms have.

Unless you modify the sample RFP’s insurance requirements for your situation, the consultants receiving your RFP may not have the specified insurance coverage. They may be unwilling to acquire that insurance, even if they were the successful bidder.  As a result, they may quietly submit a no-bid.  You may have just repelled the supplier that would have performed best for you.

The bottom line is that any RFP you write – whether from scratch or using a template or a sample RFP – should specifically address your situation and should not contain any language that doesn’t apply.

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