Best Practices for Responding to School District’s RFP’s
Responding to RFP’s – Requests for Proposals – can be a daunting task. Responding to RFP’s issued by schools might prove to be even more challenging.
While most school districts prioritize cost, accountability, efficiency, and assurance of quality are also critically important in the process of selecting a contract.
Beyond following every detail of an RFP, we have compiled some of the best practices when it comes to responding to school districts’ RFP’s.
Do Your Research on the Specific School District
First of all, each district has its own manual on creating RFP’s and selecting a contract. Some districts publish these manuals or guidelines on their websites. Search to see if the district to which you are responding publishes their selection process and then use it to guide you through your bidding process.
Some districts even publish how-to guides and bidding tips. Take some time to search for such a resource and follow it!
As well, research past bids for the specific school district to which you are responding.
Read, Re-Read & Read Once More
Requests for Proposals are specific and have detailed requirements. Don’t expect to be able to submit an excellent response to an RFP without having read it over multiple times. To make sure that you have met all the requirements and have followed the specific guidelines, read the RFP once, twice, and a third time.
Know Your Industry
It is critical that you thoroughly understand your own industry, its best practices, its current prices, and its industry trends.
The process of selecting a bidder is rigorous and involves several people, including individuals that have been approving contracts to provide products or services in your industry for many years. If you want to be selected, you must know your industry better than them and better than your competition.
Scout Your Competition
You can’t outbid your competition if you don’t know who they are, how or where they operate, or their prices. If you know your industry in detail, you should know who your competition is and how to differentiate yourself from them in the proposal.
Be thoughtful when communicating your differentiators as you want to stand out among your competition, though you don’t want to give away your “secret sauce.” Don’t use template responses and don’t just try to fill space.
Write an Executive Summary
If it’s allowed, write a summary to detail your solution and how it’s the best for their district. The summary must be professionally and thoughtfully written.
A summary is not a detailed explanation of the entire solution, but an overview of the problem, how you or your company will solve it, and some of the other pertinent details.
Anything written must be reviewed, edited, proofread. It’s important that you review your proposal multiple times before submission. The review should be undertaken at several points throughout the process and by different people, if possible.
This is also an opportunity to cross-reference your proposal to ensure that each component corresponds to the instructions and requirements of the RFP to which you are responding.
Proofread it once more just to be safe.
Submit on Time and in the Proper Format
Finally, you can’t expect to be taken seriously if you can’t even submit your proposal on time or in the requested format. It’s possible to ask for a deadline extension if required, but this doesn’t make a great first impression.
Ensure that you have planned your process well and give yourself enough time to write an excellent proposal within the given timeframe.