Develop objectives that identify:
- What your problems are (define both symptoms and causes)
- What your expectations are; what your group needs
- What should be accomplished by job's end
- What skills are required (what type of consultant you will need)
- Which board and staff members will be the contacts
- What timeframe will be used
Now that you have isolated the problem, you must develop and send out a request for proposals (RFP). An RFP is a method of soliciting proposals from consultants interested in being hired for a project. The RFP provides basic information about your organization, and the project or problem you would like the consultant to address. The RFP should establish a general format for the proposals, which will allow you to evaluate and compare consultants equally and efficiently. The following is a proposed format for an RFP, which can be modified to fit the needs of your agency.
Agency Mission & Description
Brief description of your agency’s mission, programs, services and sources of funding.
A brief statement of the final product for which you are looking.
The Problem or Need
The issues, factors and/or problems that are driving you to undertake this project at this time.
What you would like the project to accomplish. If the final product is a report, list the types of recommendations you’d like included.
1. Consultant or Firm – Include complete name, address, phone and fax numbers and e-mail address.
2. Anticipated Scope of Work and Timeframe – Specify the activities, format, and timeframe required to complete the required task. Provide a timeline that includes each phase of the project. Include a description of expected time commitments of staff and volunteers.
3. Budget and Cost – Provide number of hours and hourly rates for each of the consultants assigned, and specify their respective duties. Include the cost for each phase, as well as the maximum fee for this project. Identify personnel and non-personnel items separately within the total budget.
4. Resumes of Personnel – Provide resumes of each consultant who will work on the project, and their respective responsibilities for this project. Include a summary of relevant experiences of each of the consultants in working on similar projects with similar agencies.
5. References – Provide a list of references for each of the consultants assigned to the project. Briefly describe the scope of the work for these references, the year completed and a contact name and phone number for each one.
Proposal Selection Criteria
Criteria by which proposals will be evaluated and compared can include: clarity of proposal and work plan, timeline, capability for establishing an effective working relationship with the client, budget and costs.
Timeline for Selecting Consultant
Indicate deadlines for submission of letters of interest and proposals, and selection of consultant.
Indicate name, address and phone number of agency contact.
The key is to offer as much useful information as possible so prospects can develop relevant proposals and accurate bids. At the same time, make sure your format won't require an excessive amount of time and work for the respondent. Remember that consultants are not paid for developing their proposals. If your RFP entails a huge time commitment, it may deter qualified, but busy prospects that simply don't have the time to respond. The best bet is for you to create a format that allows your prospects to answer in a two- or three-page proposal.
Also make sure your design allows for flexibility in the response, making it easier for respondents to present their ideas. And don't design the RFP with the expectation of soliciting conclusions from the consultant. The purpose of the proposal is to specify how the consultant will approach the problem.