In this blog series, we review the steps needed to write and run an effective request for proposal (RFP) for a solar power installation. In the first three parts, we defined an RFP, the RFP process, roles and responsibilities, ways to create an effective RFP document, and methods to evaluate proposals. In this final installment, we look at how to select the winning bid and create the contract.
Making your final selection
The end of the RFP process is one of your last opportunities to negotiate with vendors on their price or schedule. This is the time to really dig into the details of each proposal and select the vendor that best fits your project’s needs. By using a strategic scoring process, like weighted scoring, you can evaluate and compare proposals on the areas of greatest importance.
It can help to involve key stakeholders in evaluating and scoring finalists, either as a group or individually. By using individual scores, stakeholders can identify areas of disagreement in their evaluations, which can be discussed and resolved. This process ensures that each stakeholder’s perspective is accounted for, which increases buy in.
In some cases, additional stakeholders should be involved in scoring. For example, a member of the Facilities team may need to be included if they will be involved in minor maintenance, landscaping, or working around the installation.
Once all of the stakeholders have scored the proposals, you should collectively review the scores and agree on the winning vendor. If the scoring process is inconclusive or the group did not come to a consensus, you can arrange additional interviews or follow-up demos to address any remaining questions.
Notifying your winner
After months of hard work, you are ready to notify your selected winner.
It’s not a bad idea to leave time between informing your winner and sending rejection notifications to the runners up. There are still contract negotiations and documents to sign before everything is official. By waiting to notifying the losing vendors until after the contract is signed, you’ll have a chance to select a viable runner-up if things fall through with your first choice.
When contacting the winner, provide a schedule and expectations for the contract negotiation phase. Allow them some time to accept or decline the opportunity. Once they accept, you can get the ball rolling.
Creating and completing the contract
After you select a winning vendor, you need to document your decision by:
- Providing the results of your RFP process to your legal team
- Drafting a scope of work (SOW) from responses gathered
- Including performance metrics and review process in the contract
The SOW should be as detailed as possible. This is the backbone of the contract that defines how your organization and the selected vendor will work together. Be sure to include performance metrics and the review process. These key elements inform the vendor of your expectations and protect your interests if the vendor fails to meet those agreed expectations.
A legally binding contract includes several elements, including:
- an offer
- an acceptance
- mutual assent
- consideration (usually money)
A good contract will:
- Reinforce the commitment of both parties
- Provide clear financial expectations
- Eliminate misunderstanding and confusion
- Limit and define your liability
- Serve as a valuable reference document
Once your contract has been signed, the RFP is over. At this point, you can inform the runners-up of the outcome and provide them with some insight into your decision-making.
Notifying the runners-up
It’s important to inform the losing vendors gently. You never know when you might need their services in the future. You want to respect the effort they put into their bids and maintain a positive relationship. Here are a few tips for notifying them:
- Send each runner-up a personalized email. Address them by name.
- Explain at a high level why their proposal didn’t quite meet your needs.
- Be sure to thank them for the time and energy they invested in responding to your RFP.
As you and your new partner move forward, regularly evaluate the results. Periodically review ROI and outcomes to ensure that the vendor is meeting your expectations and needs.
Developing and running an RFP can be complicated. We can help advise you on the process, from identifying goals to selecting the winning bid. To learn more, contact us for information.