I have made much in these pages about the importance of asking clear questions: here, for example. And seriously, who can argue? Unclear questions bemuse the client and frustrate your team when the answer given by the bemused ones is, itself, unclear or unhelpful.
But it isn’t enough to be clear. More is needed.
If you want thoughtful answers to your questions – and you likely do – then submit them as early as possible, even before the deadline, to give the client time to think.
If you don’t want nasty surprises later on – and you likely don’t – then review all parts of the RFP (the SOW, the draft contract, the response instructions, the evaluation criteria) as soon as it hits the street, so you can submit all your questions soonest for the best chance at timely answers. There’s nothing much more irritating than trying to assemble a document and realizing at that late date that the response instructions and the packaging instructions aren’t aligned. And, yes, it happens.
A special case?
Maybe you’re using a question to ask for a change:
- To the requirement – to add or delete a work requirement or to modify a service standard, for example
- To the procurement methodology – to change the relative weights of the technical and financial scores, for example
Again, asking early is your best bet, while recognizing that any heavy lifting with respect to influencing the requirement really ought to have been done before the RFP came out.