HEI Tools: Template for a Great RFP

Whether you are a first-time grant award recipient or celebrating the next big win, the importance of finding a good, qualified evaluator or research partner cannot be overstated. A competitive procurement process requires requests for proposals (RFPs), and many organizations have to reconcile soliciting bids to satisfy awardee, organizational, or state procurement rules while vetting each candidate’s experience and ability. Often, many default to their organization’s procurement specialists or use a standard RFP template, which may or may not cover all the bases. 

As consultants to grantees and proposal writers, we at HEI wish to humbly provide some guidance on what should be included in your RFP to ensure that your solicitation contains all the information you intend to provide to—and solicit from—your bidders. Our template below should get you started. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

RFP Template

  • Executive Summary: Lay out for responders all critical information about your effort in one page. At a minimum this should include the key contact, a brief statement of the work, minimum qualifications to apply, and any important dates.
  • Introduction: Provide concise RFP Information.
    • Describe your organization in a brief introduction along with a summary of the core need you’re seeking to fulfill.
    • Describe who is the sponsor of the work and who will ultimately be the internal consumer of the services and work-products.
    • Clearly outline RFP deadlines, e.g., Q&A, submission, proposal opening, awarding, and anticipated start date.
    • Provide submission format guidelines, e.g., page limits, required layout, online or physical mailing, and required interviews.      
  • Description: Provide a description of the program, innovation, intervention, or research that is the focus for your proposed work. Include well-honed research questions (presuming this RFP is for research or evaluation), i.e., what are you trying to learn/know?
  • Scope of Work and Applicant Capabilities: Define the desired or ideal scope of work for the vendor. Include:
    • Anticipated timeline from start to finish.
    • Key deliverables. 
    • Stakeholder groups involved and/or subjects of the study.
    • Specific work items required, preferred, and optional. (Note: Don’t over define the work, as you’re hiring for outside expertise; provide room for the RFP process to generate creative ideas for you.) Work items can include:
      • Data collection activities, such as focus groups, onsite observations, surveys, etc.
      • Desired testing or measurement such as pre- and post-tests, group comparisons, change over time, and comparison against a benchmark.
      • Needed deliverables such as a formal word document, PowerPoint, in-person presentations, infographics, interactive dashboard, and form or submission within upload systems.
  • Proposal Submission Guidelines: Spell out essential guidance to help streamline the RFP process for both your organization and the applicant. Include the following:
    • Budget: Consider offering a budget range, if you have one, and note the variables that can impact that range such as the number of interviews, virtual or in-person site visits, a final presentation vs. printed final reports, etc.
    • Component Checklist: List all items the applicant must submit.
    • Submission Timeline: Clearly state how, where, and when the proposal must be submitted.
    • Award Timeline: Clearly note how, when, and where the proposal will be awarded. (Note: Set a timeline you can stick to.)
    • References: Define the kinds of references that exemplify the experience and qualifications required and denote information needed, e.g., client name, contact info, description of work delivered, etc.
  • Evaluation of Submissions: Provide the proposal evaluation criteria, rubric, or terms used to select the vendor.
    • Do you make special considerations for MWBE, HUB, or Veterans policies?
    • Will certain experience and qualifications be weighted higher?
  • Appendix: Provide any required procurement forms to the end of the RFP.

HEI is always here to help. If we can assist in your RFP process, please contact us.