Whether you are handling the procurement of necessary professional services for your upcoming renovation or relocation project using in-house resources to write the RFP (request for proposal) or if you are using the services of an outsourced project management consultant, thinking through the information that should be contained in an RFP is one of the first steps in developing your project plan.
Where can I find the right consultant for my project?
Pre-qualifying potential consultants for your project can be determined through:
Previous experience successfully using the consulting firm
Recommendations from your trusted professional network contacts or your professional association networking contacts
Published (print and web) examples of consulting firm work for similar projects
What Information Should be Included in an RFP?
Finding the right balance of information for an effective RFP should be through developing performance specifications rather than prescriptive specifications. In other words, it should tell the consultant what their deliverables should be and your expectations for their level of service, rather than how they should do their job (prescriptive specifications). It should provide enough information for the bidders to understand the nature of the project as well as the project goals and objectives. It should also address the project success criteria, the prioritized selection criteria as well as critical budget and schedule constraints. The RFP needs to allow some room for the consultant to outline their competitive advantages and creative problem-solving approaches.
Who Should Get an RFP?
At the early phase of the project, an RFP (request for proposal) for the following consultants may be required:
Project Management Consultant, especially for large, complex projects
Architect/Design Firms as well as a Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (MEP) Engineering Firms that could be sub-contracted through the architectural firm
Audio/Video (AV) Integration Consultant
Mover or Relocation Consultant
In healthy economic times you may need to issue an RFQ (request for qualifications) to determine the level of interest that the consulting firm has in responding to a future RFP for your project and to “weed-out” any unqualified consultant. This can be a short document that briefly covers the project scope and size and schedule.
A basic outline for an RFP might contain the following categories of information that should be customized for each project and for each type of consultant:
An introduction that includes a brief overview of your organization and the reasons for the upcoming project
An overview of the selection process (prioritized selection criteria) and schedule for the RFP response, review and award schedule
Project Information including:
a. Project goals and objectives/project success criteria
b. The current status of the project (what has already been addressed)
c. Define any project budget and schedule constraints
General project scope and services required (not too detailed)
a. Provide a general description of the services needed.
b. If the project requires any special certifications, ie LEED, be sure to include the expected level of certification
c. Describe the deliverables needed from the consultant and any critical dates required for their delivery.
d. Describe any exceptions or exclusions to their services where other consultants have already provided those services or services that you will handle in-house.
Expectations on level of service and number of meetings required by project phase
Information regarding the consultant’s:
a. Firm history
b. Proposed team members resumes, including recent, similar projects information that includes recent client contact information
c. An overview of the firm’s competitive advantages and resources
d. Address the consulting firm’s quality control processes
Describe how you want their proposed fees and reimbursables broken down. Allow optional services that may not have been included in the RFP scope. If the consultant is fronting the costs for any services, ie permit expediter and permit filing fees, be sure to have them include that as a reimbursement expense.
Include any negotiable and non-negotiable proposed terms and conditions (consult your company’s legal adviser for guidance if you don’t already have a boiler-plate document)
Insurance requirements, ie professional liability, umbrella, and auto insurance (make sure that the limits of coverage are appropriate for the type of services to be provided.)
Note the date and time for any proposed pre-bid meeting and site walk-through.
Note: If you require your project to be kept confidential, issue a Non-Disclosure Agreement before issuing the RFP.
Note: If you would like a list of local project management professionals that can assist you in developing an RFP for professional services, please contact me at email@example.com.