In building an effective RFP template for your company’s legal support bidding process, you will want to ensure that the RFP both includes information about your company for the vendor to understand your business, as well as asks for information about the vendor for your company to get to know it. But to make the RFP process as effective and efficient as possible, make sure that your RFP questions are simple, easily understood, and related to the type of work being put out to bid. This will help vendor proposals to be easily compared to one another, and fosters a repeatable, data-driven process.
1. The Buyer’s (Read: Your) Information
A good RFP should first provide the vendor some information about you, the buyer/client. How much information to provide depends on whether the bidding process is blind or not blind – in a blind bidding process, you should provide information about your company, such as its industry and size, but avoid information that would easily identify your company. Your introductory information should also describe the type and scope of work needed from the vendor, and should also lay out timelines and rules for responses – when are RFPs due, how should they be submitted, must all items be completed, etc.
2. The Vendor’s Information
Your RFP will obviously request information about the vendor. At a minimum, you should ensure that your RFP asks the vendor details about its business and history, financial and company details, its capacities for work, licensures, insurances, and IT infrastructure. Like with your company information, how much information you ask for will depend on whether the bidding process is blind or not blind – in a blind bidding process, you want to avoid asking questions that will require or encourage vendors to give answers that may tip off their identity. But general information such as where the company is located and/or operates, how long it has been in business, or the size of the company by revenue or employees. Your RFP’s questions should also elicit information that helps you determine whether a vendor has the capacity or resources to take on your job – for example, does it have enough employees, or is it utilizing necessary technologies? Lastly, does the company have licenses or insurance coverage that you want or require?
3. Target the Scope of the RFP to the Work Being Sought
To ensure that the bidding process is as efficient as possible, make sure that your RFP is targeted and focused to the particular work being sought – neither you nor the vendor want to respond to or read questions that have nothing to do with the kind of work being put out to bid, and ultimately it is difficult to review and compare proposals that have pages of “N/A” responses. Accordingly, consider having standard RFPs tailored to a particular litigation support process, such as data/document processing, hosting, document review, etc., rather than one RFP that your company uses for every kind of lit support job. Furthermore, to assist in receiving the greatest value, you may also want to consider modularizing your RFP – that is, breaking down components of a potentially large and complicated job into component RFPs – which might allow smaller and more specialized vendors, which may be able to provide even higher quality service at greater value, to bid on the components.
4. Pare Down Your RFP to the Essential
Building on the above, in addition to targeting your RFPs to the work sought, make sure that your RFP is pared down to the essential questions, and that those questions are short and well-defined – use terminology that is widely understood, and avoid lengthy, multi-part questions. The benefit of having simple, direct questions in your RFP is that it then allows your company to more easily compare vendor proposals to one another and make a data-driven decision as to the vendor that provides the greatest value.
5. Make Your RFP Part of a Repeatable, Measurable Process
Lastly, you will want to ensure that your RFP is a repeatable, measurable process. If your RFP process has been systematized and made data-driven, your company should be able to measure the success of the selection of the vendor in terms of the value delivered.