Never Do This When Answering an RFP

Put yourself in the shoes of a government procurement agent, wading through all the bids received for a government contract. Often, the competition is fierce, which means tens, maybe hundreds, of proposals are sent to the department. The procurement agent must review each one and create a shortlist of the best bids. This means they are evaluating numerous points, and most likely taking notes on how each bid either meets or falls short of the requirements. The biggest cause of frustration for a procurement agent—and therefore the No. 1 thing you should never do in your RFP response— is when vendors ignore the instructions on the RFP.  

Why instructions help procurement agents
A set of instructions will help procurement agents stay organized when the bids start rolling in. When reviewing numerous RFP responses, they’ll want them to be in the same format, with the same sections and answering the same basic questions about the project. This will help them easily compare each bid. It will also make sure that they get all the answers they need to pick the right vendor. Rfp process steps provide a guide for vendors on how to construct the bid – because that’s the structure on which the procurement agent wants to make the decision. 

When vendors ignore instructions
When a bid comes through that ignores the instructions, it’s frustrating from an organizational standpoint. First, the procurement agent will have to hunt through the bid to find the information they need. Not only that, but it tells the procurement agent that the vendor is not willing to be flexible and accommodate requests. This might be enough to get a vendor disqualified right out of the gate. After all, if they can’t follow simple instructions on how to respond to an RFP, will they be able to follow directions on the job? The procurement agent likely won’t give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Easy ways to follow the instructions
When responding to an RFP, following the instructions is one of the best ways to show the procurement agent you’re serious about getting the job. Do your best to:

  • Make sure to read all the terms and conditions and confirm you can comply
  • Address all sections and keep answers focused on what the RFP is asking
  • Organize your bid in the same order that the RFP is presented
  • Stay within the length requirements both overall and by section
  • Only include the items requested
  • Return your bid within the proper timeframe

Never ignore instructions
The No. 1 thing to never do when responding to an RFP is to ignore the instructions. The instructions are there to help procurement agents review numerous bids and easily evaluate which vendors are their top picks. When vendors ignore the instructions, not only is it frustrating for the procurement agent, but it signals to them that the vendor might be difficult to work within other aspects. By following the directions, vendors can avoid this big bidding mistake.

Do you usually follow the instructions on RFPs or do you submit bids using your own structure?