Decoding RFQ/RFP Requirements - Part I
What they ask vs. what they really mean.
When a client issues an RFQ or RFP for professional design or construction services, the documentation usually contains very specific instructions regarding what they want to see within the submittal. These submittal requirements include certain requests for information offerors must provide in order to be considered compliant. These questions should not always be taken at face value, however. The points below illustrate some common questions found in RFQs/RFPs and the deeper meaning behind each one.
1. Provide a current workload statement (or describe your anticipated time commitment for this project in relation to ongoing assignments).
This question is a way of determining if you are able to dedicate an ample amount of time to their project. Clients realize you have other commitments, but they want to make sure those commitments are not going to interfere with their needs. Avoid answering this question with only a list of projects and dates or a series of percentages by design/construction phase. Provide the lists they require, but expand your answer to address their concerns. Specifically state the availability of your team during their project and highlight additional resources you have available should they be needed.
2. Provide resumes of key personnel.
Clients want to know if the people running their project are qualified to do the job. They also want to know who will be their contact on a daily basis, as well as who will be there to help should the unexpected happen. This means including resumes for team members who will play a key role in the major phases of the project, such as Project Architects, Estimators, Project Managers and Superintendents. Unless specifically requested, do not include resumes for internal operational and administrative staff (i.e. accounting, human resources, administrative assistants, etc.)
3. Describe your cost control methodology.
This question is designed to find out how you will protect the client's budget while still delivering a quality project. Provide more than just a list of accounting and budget tracking software your company uses. Explain what you will do to keep their project on track financially. Give examples of how you have successfully accomplished this on other projects.
4. Provide estimated and actual start and completion dates for similar projects completed by your firm.
It is very easy to include a statement that says you always complete your projects on time. The client wants you to prove it. Make sure you highlight projects in which you met the schedule demands. If your most relevant project examples exhibit some schedule slippage, explain why it happened so they can evaluate the situation for themselves. Sometimes schedules are lengthened for a very good reason, such as a client-driven addition to the scope of work.
5. Submit your information according to the required format.
This does not mean the client thinks they know how to lay out a proposal better than your marketing team. The client may potentially receive stacks of submittals in response to their RFP, all of which they will need to review. The review and comparison process will work much more smoothly for them if all submittals they receive follow the same basic format, making it possible to find the information they are looking for with minimal digging. Not following their prescribed format can also be a reason for disqualification in some cases.
6. Illustrate your experience working within occupied facilities (or in active campus environments).
As much as the client may want or need this project to go forward, they also need to be able to conduct their ongoing day-to-day operations with as little interruption as possible. Do not just provide a list of previous renovation or addition projects. Show them how you will work with them to complete their project while keeping their staff and visitors safe and inconveniencing them as little as possible.
7. Provide a list of relevant projects completed within the last 5 years.
The client does not want to hear about a similar project you completed 20 years ago. Staff members change. Technology advances. Design and construction methods evolve. If you do not have recent, relevant experience and you will be competing against other firms who do, this may not be the best pursuit on which to focus your efforts.
8. Provide a list of relevant projects completed within the last 5 years.
Clients want more than the basic description of the design and construction process especially those that have been through the process before. Avoid generic boilerplate. Describe how you are going to approach THEIR project in specific terms.
Watch for our next newsletter, in which we provide Part II of Decoding RFQ/RFP Requirements, covering questions such as change orders, submittal page limits, sustainability and more.
- Amo Creative Solutions, LLC staff have been creating successful statements of qualification and proposal responses for over 15 years. Contact us when you are ready to prepare your next submittal, and we can help you provide the information your clients are really looking for.