You're a savvy marketing director who has been tasked with issuing an RFP for your organization's new website. While the prospect of leading the charge to create a new website sounds awesome, the thought of spending hours writing a boring RFP probably doesn't sound like the most fun way to spend your day.
As a side note, if you can avoid issuing an RFP and just interview agencies based on the ones you like then I would go this route. RFPs are usually designed to satisfy company leadership that feels that this is the best way to make a decision. If you are required by your company to issue an RFP, this template and process will at least ensure that you approach it with efficiency and the right tools to make a good decision.
We get it. We see lots of website RFPs and to be honest, most of them are terrible. They ask for the wrong information, they use outdated language and they usually end up discouraging serious agencies from responding because of the way they are written.
But not your RFP! We've provided a thorough but easy-to-use website RFP template that you can download (no form required) and customize for your project.
Here is what this website RFP template includes:
An easy-to-use Word document that you can brand and customize
A general organized structure to give you a framework and an outline
Actual content that you can use without too much modification
Inline instructions to help guide you
A format and language that attracts the best agencies
As part of this RFP template, we've also included a suggested selection process. Before you run with, we would suggest taking a look at this selection process so you can choose the best partner for the job in the most efficient way possible.
1. Create a Short List of Agencies to Send the RFP to Based on Reviewing Their Websites
The first step is to create the list of agencies you want to send the RFP to. This will take a couple of hours of research. It's really important that you create a thoughtful list that is created by reviewing the websites of various agencies. You can find agencies by searching, asking for referrals and looking for site credits at the bottom of websites you like.
As you form a list, be sure to spend lots of time on agency websites. Look at their work and make sure you like what you see. Look for great design, good usability and the ability to serve organizations that resonate with you.
Keep your list fairly short. I would limit it tono morethan 7 agencies at most. Shorter is even better. You don't need to build a huge list. You can find good options with some thoughtful research.
2. Send the RFP to Selected Agencies and Request a Response With Intent to Participate
Next, you'll want to send your RFP to this list of agencies. You arenotasking for a proposal at this point. All you are asking for is intention to participate in the process. It is too early to get an accurate agreement in place without more collaboration so you just want to make sure that the agencies you send it to are responsive and feel that they can help.
3. Schedule Discovery Calls With Agencies That Respond With Intent to Participate
Now you will want to schedule discovery calls with agencies that respond. This can be a 30-minute casual conversation just to get to know the people you will be potentially working with. You will also want to ask some general questions and let them ask you some general questions, as well.
The goal of this call is simply to get a feel for how well aligned you are with the agency. Do your technology needs match their capabilities? What questions do they have about the RFP? Does it seem like they have done this kind of work before or do they seem to be stretching to figure out how they will meet your needs?
4. Narrow Down the List of Agencies Based on Discovery Calls
Once you have gathered notes from your discovery call, narrow down your list to 2-3 agencies. You should be able to find good matches based on these calls and get a short list of agencies to continue the conversation with.
At this point, be polite and send an update to the agencies you didn't choose letting them know.
5. Schedule Assessment Meetings With Selected Agencies
Now it's time to schedule assessment meetings with the 2-3 agencies that you have on your short list. This is a 60-90 minute meeting in which you and all decision makers from your team meet with the agency leads so you can dig into specifics and put together a tighter scope of the project. You'll want to listen to suggestions from the agencies as they offer advice on how to accomplish certain tasks.
At this point, you will be able to get a better idea of what's possible and how each agency would approach your project.
6. Request Agreements From Selected Agencies
Once you and potential agencies have had a chance to collaborate on scoping the project, you will be able to request agreements from each of them that outline what you discussed. As you can see, the decision is not being made based on a piece of paper but rather on a combination of factors that include cultural fit, capabilities, alignment of ideas and all the details that make up a website project.
7. Schedule Meetings to Review Agreements Together and Negotiate Terms and Scope
Now you're on the home stretch. Once you have received agreements from each agency, you will want to sit down one more time with each of them to review the agreement, negotiate terms and update any points that need clarification.
At this stage you have shortened your list to 2-3 agencies, you have a good idea of how each team would approach your project and you have discussed and clarified any points in the agreement that need to be tightened up.
8. Review Agreements and Select Agency
After following this process, you should be in a great position to choose an agency to work with. Don't overanalyze it. Trust your gut. If you find that one team stands out as the one that feels like they are most in alignment with your organization, then you're ready to get started.
We've found that most organizations that issue website RFPs don't stick to their own timelines. They want to launch their website on a certain time frame but then they take forever to make a decision so their project is delayed. Follow this process and commit to making decisions and you should be able to find the perfect website agency match within 30 days.