Every day across the business world, potential customers interact with vendors and providers of goods and services through signed agreements, often referred to as the “RFP" or “Request for Proposal".
In the telecom industry, the RFP can serve as the means for purchasing equipment as well the preferred path by companies and government agencies to obtain telecom services and maintenance agreements from telecom carriers themselves.
Although the circumstances and desired results will have a big impact as to the length, specificity, and detail of an RFP, there are certain points that you must consider when attempting to construct one that is effective.
To maximize the result and time spent on the RFP itself, be sure your your next RFP contains the following:
1) A Table of Contents The organization of material contained within the RFP is best outlined in the beginning:the table of contents. Outline each area of the RFP in neat detail so that readers will be able to quickly scan content and understand exactly how the RFP has been organized.
2) A Situation Summary This area provides the reader background information about your company or organization - the nature of the enterprise, size and scope, a brief history, ownership information, etc. as well as an overview of the current telecom systems and the reasons and concerns for making changes.
3) Required Rules of Response An effective RFP will provide bidders with specific and concise terms under which they must respond. You will save alot of time and confusion by making this section of the RFP specific and detailed. In it, consider answering questions such as:
4) Functional Objectives An important part of an effective RFP is to explain exactly what you wish to accomplish with the new system or service and what you expect it to do for you. It is in this area that you will outline the needs analysis, operational considerations, traffic details, etc.
5) Specifications Once you have outlined the functional objectives, you will need to state the specifics for which that objective can be achieved. This section can be generic in nature or very specific. When in doubt, try to be as specific as the number, size, color, type, etc. to eliminate confusion.
6) Delivery and Installation Here you will outline the location of the products and/or services to be delivered, connected and exactly when they must be operational. Technical installation requirements and any unusual scheduling considerations should also be included.
7) Documentation and Training This section specifies the required physical labeling of components, circuits, terminations, etc. You may wish to consider requiring diagram layouts that identify the location of fixed equipment and/or all cable runs needed. Provision of installation and technical manuals, user instructions, and personnel training should also be included.
8) Warranties, technical service and maintenance This section addresses the availability, terms, guaranteed response time, costs, etc. during the life of the contract. Specify bases for pricing (i. e. a purchase, 3 year lease, monthly lease, etc. ) and any allowances (trade-ins, prompt payment, etc. ) and rate guarantees. Strive to allow vendors to include complete information in this section so that the evaluation process is made that much easier.
9) Vendor information Lastly, it is a good idea to create an opportunity (questionnaire) for vendors to provide information about themselves. Most will do so regardless, but may not address your questions thoroughly. A short questionnaire of information you require can be helpful when sifting through bidders.
After completing your RFP, put yourself in the vendors’ position. Is it clear and concise? Can you perhaps be more specific in any areas to avoid confusion? Less specific?
Overall, make your RFP easy for the vendor to understand and respond. Once you've made your decision, sign the contract and chances are you will have a positive and lasting relationship with the chosen vendor or service provider.
Karen Thatcher is CEO of TelCon Associates, Inc. , a 33 year old telecom consulting and bill management company. For more information on how to gain control and reduce telecom spending, visit http://www.telconassociates.com