Better RFP Responses & Management
Advice to Procurement Professionals: Remember What You Want

Advice to Procurement Professionals: Remember What You Want

Bidders are highly motivated to do well: to submit, on time, a compliant proposal that will score well and offer the lowest price they can. So why don’t they do better? A major reason is the complexity of bid documents.  Simpler documents will lead to fewer questions during the process, and to better responses at the end of the process, where “better” means closer to the requirement, easier to evaluate, and more competitively priced. Herewith, some practical suggestions for keeping it simple.

This second in my series for procurement professionals focuses on remembering “what you want” – and asking for just that, just as specifically as you can.

Ask Just for What You Want

Ask for just what you want to see in the proposal. Don’t use overview (introductory, explanatory, context-setting) statements followed by the detailed list of requirements. Bidders go through those overviews to identify topics, compare them to the detailed list (looking for duplications or contradictions), and then try to figure out how to organize their response so they answer all the points from the overview and from the detailed list, in the order you expected.

Ask Specifically for What You Want

Ask as specifically as possible for the information you want, avoiding general words that set no parameters on the response. For example, don’t ask bidders to “describe their approach to procurement.” Instead, ask something like this:

“Provide this information on your procurement function:

  • organization chart
  • position roles and responsibilities
  • standards (e.g. applicable regulatory or quality regimes, industry protocols)
  • process (i.e. steps from identifying the need to acquiring the goods/service)
  • controls (e.g. fraud prevention, corporate approval authorities)”

Without that specific direction, every bidder will take their best guess at what should be included and will likely give you more than you want or need.


This post is based on an article I wrote for the National Institute of Government Purchasing, Canada West Chapter.