The primary tool for bidding out work and selecting suppliers is the Request for Proposal (RFP).[1] We recommend creating a library of RFP templates appropriate to the types of work for which you expect to solicit external suppliers. From the perspective of IT sourcing, the RFP process consists of:

  • writing the RFP
  • selecting the target list of suppliers
  • tendering the RFP
  • facilitating Q&A during the response phase
  • creating a side-by-side management comparison of the supplier responses
  • facilitating supplier follow-up and "face off" sessions
  • facilitating scripted customer reference calls enabling "apples to apples" comparisons among suppliers

Insure that all affected parties have reviewed and, as appropriate, approved the RFP.

Sample RFP

Following is a sample table of contents for an RFP for applications product maintenance for a mature applications area considering turning over all development and maintenance for a "heritage" customer-facing application to an outside provider.

While this arguably represents an upper limit of information which would be included in an applications development and maintenance RFP, the point should not be lost that the more information you can provide in the form of documentation, samples, and standards, the more thorough and accurate the supplier response.

Providing insufficient detail up front invites supplier "boilerplate" which fails to offer any differentiating insight into their capabilities or to engender any confidence in their effort and cost estimates.

1.1Document Purpose
1.2Document Organization
1.3Project Background
2.Scope and Objectives
2.2Functional Requirements
2.3Technical Architecture Requirements
2.4Non-functional Requirements
2.4.1.   Documentation
2.4.2.Capacity and Performance
2.4.4.Tools and Standards
2.4.5.Service Levels
3.Response Preparation
3.1Supplier Response Guidelines and Requirements
3.2Scope of Supplier Response
3.3Confidentiality of Project and Information
4.Supplier Questionnaire
4.1Details of Supplier
4.1.1.Business Domain Expertise
4.1.2.Technical Domain Expertise
4.1.3.Expertise with Client-Requested Methods and Tools
4.2Details of Supplier's Products
4.3Details of Supplier's Support Services
4.4Details of Supplier's Technical Architecture
4.5Details of Supplier's Solution and Costs
A.EXHIBIT - Client Technology Standards
A.1Summary of Client Standards Database
B.EXHIBIT - Client SDLC Tools & Methods
B.1Sample Procedures
B.2Sample Templates
B.2.1.Requirements Document (Form + Instructions)
B.2.2.Requirements, Design, Test, Implement (Form + Instructions)
B.2.3.Design Document (Form + Instructions)
B.2.4.Requirements, Design Document (Form + Instructions)
B.3Sample Specifications
C.EXHIBIT - Application Maintenance/Enhancement Cutover and Acceptance Process
C.1Infrastructure Validation
C.2Business Function Validation
D.EXHIBIT - Change Order Process
D.1Change Request - Information to Be Provided
D.2Change Log
E.EXHIBIT- Contractual Requirements
E.1Term of Contract
E.2Third Parties
E.3Client Approvals
E.4Facilities and Assets
E.5Supplier Financial Responsibilities
E.7Representations, Warranties, and Indemnities
E.8Choice of Law

[1]Other than a simpler structure, the process for a Request for Quotation is essentially the same.

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