The world is full of acronyms and the field of architecture is no exception. One important acronym for us is RFP or Request for Proposal, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. This is a way of asking for qualifications or a document showcasing your company’s skill and services. But what does it take to prepare your response to an RFP?
All RFP’s have several items they are looking for from responding firms. Those requirements are items that the agency deems important for the job. This often includes resumes, past projects, current workload, insurance certificates, and who is on the team (specifically the people they will interact with if awarded). Seems like an easy request, right? Any company should have this information readily available, but it’s not usually as simple as you think.
One of the largest challenges is the format of the RFP response, which means one of two things in the architecture world. If no format is specified, then the architect will use his own formatting style and layout on the sheets. Usually has a logo on many pages and follows a certain visual aesthetic. Other times, a prospective client specifies the 330 Form, which was created by the federal government. By selecting this option, the client ensures that every respondent is giving the same information in the same manner. No problem. Except this means we have to keep and maintain all our information in two formats, which can be cumbersome. Additionally, each RFP usually wants slightly different information, so it takes time to customize each proposal.
Another item that is unique for each proposal is the design team. Depending on the type of project, you need different types and numbers of consultants. For example, if you do school work you may use specific engineers that are more versed in the requirements of schools. They may or may not be the same consultants you would use for church projects. Typically we use civil, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and structural engineers on most projects, but sometimes we need other specialties like cost estimators, lighting designers, interior designers, and acoustical engineers.
You can see how with just these two items we encounter, a simple RFP response quickly turns into a more robust effort. As a result, we might spend several days working on a single RFP. We put a lot of thought into our RFP responses, right down to how it should be bound.