A successful website design launch is much more than just a software code, text, or image. A website design process is a direct consequence of a structured process and solid documentation.
A solid documentation is the cornerstone of a successful website design process. This documentation can be in the form of a proposal, contract, or statement of work. The details within the document is much more important than the name of the document.
Whether it be a small business or a large enterprise, a document holds the key to executing a web designing project on time and on budget. The more documented the entire process is, the easier it becomes for everyone involved.
In this write-up, we are going to discuss reviewing and evaluating RFP responses.
Evaluating RFP Responses
Reviewing RFP responses sounds easier than it actually is. If the project team asks quotes from a large number of design agencies, reviewing these many web designing service proposals can be quite overwhelming. You need to ask some basic questions to get started. These would include;
1.) Has the RFP response provided within the allowed time-frame?
2.) Has the RFP response been presented in a professional manner?
3.) Has the RFP response been well written?
4.) Has the RFP response addressed all your website design requirements?
5.) Has the website proposal been within the project’s budget constraints?
The above questions are designed to screen and eliminate. If the RFP response of any design firm is not up to the mark, then that particular firm should be eliminated from the race.
Any late, incomplete or unprofessional RFP response should raise a red flag about potential developers. A RFP response that has been priced at twice or thrice of the budget should also raise a concern for you.
Now, that you have screened the bad apples from the good ones and removed out any red flag vendors, it is time for you to now thoroughly review each RFP response.
Website Design Requirements in each RFP Response
An RFP response can be of any length. The volume of the text or the number of pages is not important. What matters is the content and the solutions present in it.
When you review RFP responses, you need to ensure that every response covers some core elements of the website project. These website design requirements include following components;
1.) Project Plan- A project plan is the first and the foremost component of any RFP response. This would include a list of the project tasks.
This would not be as detailed as the project plan itself, there would be enough details so that you understand the flow of discovery, design, development, etc.
2.) Project Management Tools- The agency should list their project management toolset. This will vary from firm to firm as there are a lot of options available.
The significant thing to confirm is that there is a proper structure to the project management process and that all the details such as tasks, owners, and dates should be well documented.
3.) Team members- The strength of a team varies from agency to agency. Different design agencies have different structures for their teams. It has been observed that the larger the agency is, the larger the project team is.
As a buyer you should know who all are going to work on your team and what capacity of work are they going to provide.
You do not need the entire biodata of each team member but you should know the people you are going to work with in the next coming months.
4.) Content Management System- What CMS solution is mentioned in your proposal forms an important element of it.
Make sure that the RFP you are reviewing contains the desired CMS as well as any additional technology that will be used in the coding and deploying of the new website.
5.) Deliverables- The next important component is the deliverables list. Its significance lies in its validating what all is going to be delivered at the point of website going live.
The list of deliverables could include design templates, volume of content migration, plug-ins etc.
6.) Functionality List- The functionality list is an important component if the website is a little more complex. The more complex the build of the website, the more detailed the functionality list would be.
7.) Content Migration- If your website project includes content migration, you need to know the volume of the content that will be needed to be migrated. This would include pages, posts, products, attachments, etc. and so on.
8.) Image Usage- You must know the ownership and the assignment of the images used in the website design project. You must also be aware of people who are responsible for the image selection, editing, placement etc.
This would vary from project to project. So, you must define this parameter early on in the process.
9.) SEO- SEO is another major component in this. It includes keyword research, on-page optimization, meta-definition etc. If you depend on the organic SEO, you need to protect the traffic source during the redesigning process.
10.) Mobile Responsiveness- Mobile responsiveness is an inseparable part of a modern day website project. This however does not apply to the large websites who have separate mobile websites or apps.
If you do not have a separate mobile website, ensure that the RFP includes managing display that adapts to phones and tablets.
11.) Exclusions- Exclusions need to be discussed and listed in an RFP. Anything that is not going into the website is exclusion. This helps you protect later in the process and also makes clear the deliverables for the client.
12.) APIs and third-party integration- Companies usually have a multiplicity of systems and software packages within the organization. These systems need to communicate with the new website via pulling, pushing or syncing data.
If you need to integrate APIs, you need to ensure that the RFP is able to define the third-party system, data point, data transfer, etc.
13.) Milestones- Milestones form a crucial aspect of any proposal. You need to make sure that the project team hits their respective goals at each stage of the website design process before they move onto the next stage.
14.) Schedule- Each milestone should have a corresponding schedule with it. This will help you grasp how much time will be allocated to each milestone and whether or not the overall project will align to the specified timetable.
15.) Delays- Project delays are a natural consequence of this process. It could occur because of either the client or the developer. It is good to understand how these delays will be taken care of. Also, in what way will they affect the overall project budget and timeline.
16.) Payment Terms- Smaller website projects will have a 50% payment at the start and 50% payment at the completion. Larger website projects have smaller payments that are based on milestones or set timing. You need to make sure that these are clearly defined in the proposal.
17.) Expenses- Expenses would include anything from travel to domain fees to hosting fees and plug-in licenses etc. Ensure that the RFP response details out these items as well as the party responsible for the payment.
18.) User Training- If your users are new to the CMS, you might want to train them. You need to ensure that the training methodology matches that with your user base.
19.) Warranty Period- The correction of software bugs within the website comes under the website warranty. It is generally for an established number of days and is stated within the proposal or the contract. Such a warranty would also cover the coding part but would exclude the third-party plug-ins or extensions.
20.) Ongoing Maintenance- Maintenance is often confused with the warranty but they are not the same. A maintenance agreement is paid for either monthly or annually. It is used to provide developer updates to the software over time. A maintenance agreement also includes security, monitoring, backups, reporting, etc.
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Next Steps in the Website RFP Process
After you have reviewed your RFP responses and narrowed down on one supplier, the next step involves focussing on negotiating contracts and final details.
While the internet is full of advices on contract negotiations, you do not need to get caught up in this process. It is crucial to remember that this probably is the last step before you enter into a long partnership with the chosen website developer.
Any open questions or issues should be resolved through the negotiations. This will then provide a solid basis to begin the design and execution process. If the project team has done a good job, the negotiations should not be more than just a signature.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What are some good RFP questions?
Ans. The following questions can prove to be beneficial for formulating an RFP;
1.) What will be the project budget?
2.) What could be the end goals of the project?
3.) What factors can be crucial deal breakers?
4.) What factors of the product or the service are most important?
5.) Is your RFP a multi-step process?
6.) How will the vendors be evaluated and scored?
Q2. What are some of the most important steps in the RFP?
Ans. The following 7 steps are most important in ensuring a successful procurement process;
1.) The first and the foremost step is to identify the problem.
2.) Secondly, you need to make a business case.
3.) Thirdly, define your requirements.
4.) Fourthly, you need to reach out to the potential vendors.
5.) Subsequently, you need to conduct a weighted-scoring analysis.
6.) Consequently, make the final selection.
7.) Lastly, engage with your vendor.
Q3. What should you not include in an RFP?
Ans. You should not do the following three things when you are creating an RFP;
1.) You should not write statements and expect responses.
2.) Do not push in several queries under the same question.
3.) Do not try to spread RFP questions across several documents.
Q4. What is the typical structure of a RFP?
Ans. Broadly, a basic RFP consists of the sections such as a project overview section and an administrative information section. These contain an overview or summary statement of the problem, which is similar to a proposal’s executive summary as well as the administrative information section.
Q5. Is RFP legally binding?
Ans. Yes, RFPs are legally binding. RFPs require that suppliers’ proposal remain legally valid for at least 90 days. Within this period, the vendor can “accept” or “deny” this.