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The Definition of Request for Proposals

Proposals are an inherent part of business, which is why planning and submitting them is an essential skill in the field of business communication. To master it, one has to understand the internal structure and logic of this type of documents as well as the differences between its multiple and varying kinds. First and foremost, it refers to the difference between internal proposals, which are, basically, requests for the organization’s management, and external proposals addressed to the outside parties. Solicited proposals are external proposals issued by the request of an outside party that seeks specific goods and services for a particular goal. An offer from this outside party to compete for a contract by submitting detailed proposals is called a request for proposals or RFP.

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Essentially, RFP is a formal invitation to compete for a contract addressed to at least several firms capable of providing the goods and services required by an inviting party. Since the primary purpose of an RFP is securing a reliable provider, its main feature is specificity. RFP includes thorough instructions that elaborate as explicitly as possible what kind of services has to be performed or what type of goods must be delivered according to which specifications.

Deadlines, budgets, and other corresponding requirements are also invariably a part of a well-structured RFP. Naturally, an entity that issues a request is interested in attracting a large pool of qualified bidders in order to pick the one that suits its interests best among those available. For this purpose, organizations distribute RFPs via different means to ensure they reach the intended audience and bring in numerous proposals. These means may vary from direct contacts with companies that have a good record and reputation in the necessary field to printing the RFPs in trade publications and posting them on the Internet.

RFP imposes a number of requirements, and a proposal written as a response has to adhere to those. The fact that a given organization has issued an RFP indicates that it is already aware of an existing problem or opportunity. As a result, a proposal responding to an RFP, unlike an unsolicited one, should not spend much time and effort elaborating on the context of the task. As mentioned above, the characteristic feature of an RFP is its specificity, since it is meant to deliver the organization’s requirements in the most explicit and detailed manner.

Consequently, responding to an RFP involves addressing every requirement mentioned in the document and accounting meticulously for every single point it raises. Organizations use RFPs not only to get information on the products and services offered by the bidders but also to evaluate their ability to follow given instructions thoroughly and correctly. Therefore, when reacting to an RFP, one should take care of even those aspects that do not pertain directly to the task at hand, such as the writing format or size of the paper used.

To summarize, RFP is a formal invitation issued by an organization in need of certain goods or services that seeks to attract external proposals from the bidders. RFPs tend to be very specific with regards to the products or services required and are either delivered to reputable companies directly or distributed via press or the Internet. A proposal responding to an RFP should match its specificity and follow the detailed instructions with particular precision and accuracy.

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