How to Write a Request for Proposal: Key Tips

So, you need to write a request for proposal (RFP) but need to know where to start. You're in the right place. Writing an RFP is an important skill. A well-written document helps you choose the best vendor, get good prices, and reduce risk.

RFPs are common in business and have been used for a long time. Understanding the process and best practices is key to success. A good RFP is clear and concise, provides useful information, and asks the right questions.

We're here to help you with everything you need to know about writing this request. We'll start with the basics: how to write a request for proposal (RFP), what it includes, and an overview of the process.

What is an RFP?

A request for proposal (RFP) is a document a company uses to describe a project and invite proposals from providers who meet its needs. It's useful when you have a list of potential vendors and want to choose the best one.

Knowing how to write an RFP sets the stage for effective collaboration by reducing confusion and minimizing the need for extra meetings and explanations. It also helps you understand your project needs better and ensures the final product matches your vision, plan, and budget.

RFP Basics

RFP documents are used by businesses to choose a development partner fairly. Before we dive into how to write an RFP, it’s important to understand its purpose, format, and process.

This document helps companies define their project needs and evaluate vendors' proposals. The typical format of request for proposal includes an introduction, project details, submission requirements, and evaluation criteria. Knowing this helps you create an effective RFP and choose the best vendor for your project.

What should be in an RFP?

A request for proposal includes a lot of information. Asking the right questions is key, but there's more to it. Knowing how to write an RFP proposal starts with details about the buyer, the project, and the process. Here’s a typical structure:

  • Overview or summary of needs
  • Buyer introduction and background
  • Goals and project scope
  • Budget
  • Minimum vendor requirements
  • Evaluation and submission criteria
  • RFP timeline
  • Scoring process
  • Sections and questions
  • Terms and conditions
  • Attachments

There needs to be a single right way to structure an RFP. Different sources suggest various sections, like Hubspot and Mark Wolters from the University of Illinois. This flexibility can be confusing initially, but it allows you to tailor the document to your needs. For smaller projects, you can use a simple "RFP lite." A detailed, multi-step RFP might be best for large, strategic projects.



Client Manager

The RFP process

The quality of your document has significant consequences. Knowing how to create RFP sets the stage for everything that follows:

  1. Gathering RFP requirements: Collect all the information about your project needs and goals. This includes input from all stakeholders to ensure the document covers everything necessary.
  2. Crafting your RFP: Write the RFP document. This includes creating sections like the project overview, requirements, evaluation criteria, and timeline. Be clear and detailed to avoid misunderstandings.
  3. Conducting the initial evaluation: Review the proposals you receive. Check if they meet your minimum requirements and make an initial shortlist of potential vendors.
  4. Following up with shortlisted vendors: Reach out to the potential companies on your shortlist for any clarifications or additional information. This step helps you understand their proposals better and see how they align with your needs.
  5. Making your final selection: Evaluate the final proposals based on your criteria and select the best partner for your requirements and budget.
  6. Creating and completing the contract: Work with the chosen vendor to finalize and sign the contract. Ensure all terms and conditions are clear and agreed upon.

Each of these steps is crucial for the success of your project. Knowing how to make an RFP sets a strong foundation, ensuring you attract the right vendors and make the best choice for your needs.

The importance of a well-written RFP

Vendors and suppliers can easily tell good RFPs from bad ones. Good RFPs are customized, clear, concise, and thoughtful, leading to high-quality proposals. Bad RFPs, on the other hand, raise red flags for vendors and often result in low-quality proposals or too few proposals to make a confident decision.

Knowing how to make RFP balances the amount of information you provide. You might get off-target proposals from unqualified partners if you give too little information and ask broad questions. Vendors might be discouraged from responding if you give too much information and ask too many specific questions. Consider your needs and decide how much detail is necessary to make the right choice.

How to Write an RFP That Works?

Why do some RFPs succeed while others fail? It depends on how they were created. A poorly written document can be costly and risky. Developing RFP requires time and resources to end up with the right vendor. But with these tips, you can write an RFP that gets great results.

Define a project and needs

Making a simple list before writing your RFP helps you clarify your project and what you need from vendors. Here's how you can do it:

  • Describe Your Project: Write a summary of your project, including its main goals and objectives.
  • Tasks: List the specific things you want vendors to do for your project. Be clear and detailed to avoid any confusion.
  • Work Methods: Explain how you want the work to be done. You can mention any preferred methods, technologies, or approaches.
  • Work Location: Specify where the work will happen, whether it's on-site, remote, or a mix of both. Include any location-specific requirements.
  • Project Timeline: Set out the timeline for your project, including key milestones and deadlines.

Using this list as a guide while writing your RFP ensures you cover all the essential information vendors need. It keeps things organized and makes the writing process smoother, leading to a successful RFP development.

Describe your project's requirements

When explaining your RFP requirements to potential vendors, it's crucial to be thorough and detailed. Take your time to list all the specifics so that vendors can accurately assess whether they are a good fit for your project. Here's how you can structure this section:

  1. Project Scope: Provide a comprehensive overview of the scope of work involved in your project. Detail the tasks, deliverables, and outcomes you expect from the vendor.
  2. Technical Requirements: Outline any technical specifications or requirements that the vendor must meet. This could include software platforms, hardware specifications, or any other technical prerequisites.
  3. Functional Requirements: Specify the functional aspects of the project, such as features, functionalities, or user requirements. Be clear about what you need the final product to achieve.
  4. Timeline and Deadlines: Clearly define the project timeline, including key milestones and deadlines for deliverables. This helps vendors understand the project's urgency and align their resources accordingly.
  5. Budget: Provide information about your budget constraints or expectations. This helps vendors assess whether their pricing aligns with your budget and avoids any misunderstandings later in the process.
  6. Preferred Experience: Outline any specific experience or expertise you prefer the vendor to have. This could include industry knowledge, previous similar projects, or specific certifications.

By including all these details in your requirements section, you give vendors a clear understanding of what you're looking for. This transparency fosters better communication and ensures that both parties are on the same page from the outset.

Outline your selection criteria

Make sure vendors understand what you're looking for and when you need it by providing clear instructions and deadlines. Specify the due date for submitting proposals and outline what should be included in them. This could be a brief description of the vendor's services and any experience relevant to your project. Additionally, you can request information on pricing models and preferred methods of payment. Providing these details upfront helps vendors tailor their proposals to meet your specific needs and ensures a smoother evaluation process for both parties.

You can customize your request to fit your business idea better. For instance, in an app development RFP, you might ask vendors to specify which operating systems they work with and whether they prefer native or cross-platform development. You could also include a section about the different types of users your solution will serve, to help vendors understand your needs better.

Once you send out your request, vendors will send you their proposals. These should include what you asked for, like a description of their services, examples of their past work, and their vision for your project. You'll then evaluate their proposals to see if they included everything you asked for and consider factors like their expertise, experience, and skills to choose the best one.

Be as transparent as possible

When crafting your RFP, aim for transparency at every step. Be clear about your project's goals, expectations, and requirements. Transparency helps vendors understand what you need and ensures they can provide accurate proposals. Clearly outline your evaluation criteria and selection process so vendors know how they'll be assessed. Additionally, provides ample opportunity for vendors to ask questions and seek clarification. Transparency fosters trust and sets the stage for a successful partnership between you and the chosen vendor.

Customize and optimize your template

Make your template of RFP fit your project perfectly. Customize it by adding sections that match your project's goals and requirements. Optimize it by making the language and layout clear and easy to understand. You can also include instructions to help vendors provide the right information in their proposals. Keep refining your template based on feedback and changes in your project needs. This way, it'll always be a perfect fit for your RFPs.

Sample RFP Templates and Examples

Looking for guidance on creating your Request for Proposal (RFP)? Explore a sample template of RFP to help you get started. Whether you're seeking services, products, or solutions, the template provides a structured framework for outlining your project requirements and evaluating vendor proposals. Customize and optimize it to fit your specific needs, and streamline your RFP process for successful outcomes.

Request for Proposal (RFP) Template

Project Title: [Insert Project Title]

Project Overview:

Provide a brief description of the project and its objectives.

Vendor Responsibilities:

Outline the specific tasks and deliverables expected from the vendor.

Technical Requirements:

Specify any technical specifications or requirements vendors must meet.

Functional Requirements:

Detail the features, functionalities, or user requirements for the project.


Define key milestones and deadlines for the project.


Provide information about budget constraints or expectations.

Preferred Experience:

Specify any preferred qualifications or experience for vendors.

Selection Criteria:

Outline the criteria that will be used to evaluate vendor proposals and select the winning candidate.

Submission Instructions:

Provide details on how vendors should submit their proposals, including the deadline and format.

Contact Information:

Include contact details for inquiries or clarifications.

This template provides a basic framework that can be customized to suit the specific needs of your project. You can find more detailed RFP templates and examples online or through professional organizations in your industry.

RFP Software

RFP software makes creating and managing RFPs easier. Look for software that:

1. Stores RFP data for future use

2. Let multiple people work on RFPs together

3. Tracks vendors' progress in real-time

4. Facilitates communication between buyers and sellers

5. Helps create and send security questionnaires

6. Simplifies scoring and evaluation, with automated weighted scoring

Even if you're not a procurement manager, knowing how to write an RFP is valuable. It requires skills like big-picture thinking, attention to detail, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. So, investing time to understand RFP writing is worthwhile, even if you only issue RFPs occasionally.

What Proposal Management Tools do you Need in your Stack?

The best software enhances your organization's response process with powerful tools. Look for software that offers:

  • Intelligent Content Library: Easily access relevant information with a centralized knowledge base.
  • AI-enabled Support: Save time with AI writing tools that craft responses quickly and accurately.
  • Collaborative Workflow Integrations: Facilitate teamwork across your organization, even with dispersed team members.
  • Automation: Streamline processes by automating tasks like analyzing RFP requirements and scheduling reviews.
  • Security Questionnaires: Automatically complete vendor security questionnaires, saving time and effort.
  • Branded Templates and Visual Support: Create visually appealing proposals with ease, enhancing your chances of success.
  • Reporting, Analytics, and Insights: Gain valuable insights to improve response management and make strategic decisions.

Choose software that offers these features to boost efficiency, productivity, and win rates for your response teams.

Tips for Writing an RFP that Gets a Response

Writing an RFP that gets vendors interested and provides useful responses is crucial for a successful project. Here are some important tips to remember when writing your RFP.

Use subheadings and bullet points

Organizing your RFP into clear sections with descriptive subheadings is essential for ensuring that vendors can easily navigate and understand the document. Each section should address a specific aspect of the project or requirements, making it easier for vendors to locate the information they need.

Additionally, using bullet points within each section helps to highlight key information and key points. Bullet points allow you to present information in a concise and easily digestible format, making it easier for vendors to quickly grasp important details without having to sift through lengthy paragraphs of text.

By incorporating subheadings and bullet points into your RFP, you can improve readability and comprehension, ultimately increasing the likelihood of receiving responses from qualified vendors who fully understand your project requirements.

Write about what you know, if possible

When crafting your RFP, use your organization's expertise to provide an overview of requirements. Drawing from your knowledge allows you to communicate effectively with potential vendors. Base your RFP on your organization's expertise and experience.

  • Use your firsthand knowledge of your organization's needs, processes, and goals to inform the content of your RFP. This ensures that you're requesting solutions that align with your objectives and capabilities.
  • Provide detailed information about your project requirements, goals, and expectations. Be specific and thorough when outlining your project requirements, goals, and expectations. This includes detailing the scope of work, desired outcomes, timelines, and preferences you have.
  • Avoid including vague or unfamiliar terms that may confuse vendors. Use simple language that is easy for vendors to understand. Avoid jargon, acronyms, or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to vendors.

By writing about what you know in your RFP, you can effectively communicate your project needs to potential vendors.

Why RFPs are so Important?

RFPs are a helpful tool for organizations looking for new services or products. They let you gather proposals from different suppliers, compare them, and find the best fit for your needs.

When writing an RFP, remember three things: clarity, completeness, and fairness. Make sure your document is easy to understand, includes all the necessary details, and gives every supplier a fair chance.

It's important to find the right amount of information. If you give vendors too little, they might not understand what you need. But if you give them too much, they might get overwhelmed. Think about what you really need and give just enough detail to help vendors make good proposals.


Writing a request for a proposal can help simplify discussing your project. When developers know your ideas, business background, goals, and limitations, it's easier to talk about them.

If you're unsure about all the project requirements, we can help. Contact us to discuss the technologies you might need and potential challenges. This way, you'll know what to include in your RFP and what to look for in a development company.

Now that you know how to write (RFP) request for proposal let’s dive into the FAQ section.

FAQs about How to Write a Request for a Proposal

Why should I use an RFP?

RFPs are like a roadmap for organizations looking for new services or products. They collect proposals from various suppliers. They give you a chance to evaluate and select the best one for your specific requirements.

How do I handle questions and clarifications from vendors?

After vendors read your requests, they often have questions. They might need more details or clarifications about your needs. When you get these questions, gather them and answer each one. Then, send the answers to all the vendors.

What should be included in the requirements section?

When conveying your requirements to different companies, thoroughness is vital. Structure this section by outlining the project scope. Also technical and functional requirements, timeline, budget, and preferred experience. Clear details enable vendors to grasp the project's extent and align their resources. This transparency fosters better communication and ensures alignment between both parties.