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Soliciting Proposals for Products and Services, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

Commonly called a Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Qualifications (RFQ), there are critical steps necessary to obtain the best products and services for the best terms. Most importantly, the RFP should include a Scope of Work, clearly stating a complete description and parameters of the work to be performed. Other elements include the project schedule, when and where the proposal is to be submitted, a sample contract, insurance and bonding requirements, and the procedures for submitting questions about the package. If pricing is part of the RFP, a bid form should be included to allow easy comparison of alternate bids and identification of bid inconsistencies. A very important part of the RFP is the qualification section. Depending on the owner's priorities, it should request company information such as size, specialization, capabilities, relevant experience and current workload. It should also request the proposed team, including resumes for key team members, project assignment, references and percentage of time available for your project. Generally it is best to request the project experience of the local office specifically, including project scope and client contact. A short description of the company's project methodology can be very valuable. This will not only indicate the company's abilities and priorities, it may show you some better ways to execute the project.

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