Request for Proposal – Definition

Cite this article as:"Request for Proposal – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated December 11, 2018, last accessed October 22, 2020,


Request for Proposal Definition

A Request for Proposal is a document issued by companies or organizations inviting qualified vendors (or service providers) to bid for an available project or program.

A Little More on What is Request for Proposal

The organization or the company announces that a fund is available for said project or program and companies may bid for it. The document generally includes information about the issuing organization and their work, timeline, budget and specification of the proposed project, contract terms and possible formatting of the requested proposal. It also may include the desired skills and evaluation criteria for the received bids.

The organizations and companies issue a request for proposals to get work done by an outside contractor or vendor. After receiving bids from different contractors, the organization sorts out those proposals considering the feasibility of each. The organization may also look into the background and skills of the bidder to estimate their ability to complete the project accurately.

Proposals from various bidders provide different perspectives which help the organization to select the most appropriate one. The bidders are also asked to provide their price quotation for the proposed project.

A request for proposal needs to be written accurately and clearly. It should clearly communicate all of the requirements of the project. It should also mention the desired result and an expected timeframe for completion. The vendors can formulate a clear and to-the-point proposal only when the project requirement is clear to them. On the other hand, if the request for proposal becomes too detailed and restrictive the vendor might not be able to showcase their innovative ideas. A proper balance needs to be maintained while creating a request for proposal.

The issuing organization drafts a request of proposal and invites the bidders for reviewing the draft. Then the organization edits the draft based on the feedback received from the vendors and issues the final document inviting proposals. After receiving proposals based on the request, the organization selects a few of them and starts negotiating the price and other technical issues before selecting the vendor best suited for the job. The organization may also invite a final round of bidding from all the bidders before finalizing the contract.

References for Request for Proposal

Academic Research on Request for proposal

Analysis of federal design-build request for proposal evaluation criteria, Gransberg, D. D., & Barton, R. F. (2007). Journal of Management in Engineering, 23(2), 105-111. This study aims at identifying the benefits federal owners seek through the design-build process by analyzing the research data obtained from 110 requests for proposal RFP evaluation plans issued for $1.5 billion of federal work by different agencies. The findings of the study suggest that the qualifications of the firms and individuals who form the design-build team are fundamentally more important than the proposed technical design approach.

An agile request for proposal (RFP) process, Andrea, J. (2003, June). In Agile Development Conference, 2003. ADC 2003. Proceedings of the (pp. 152-161). IEEE.  This paper suggests that sometimes the key to achieving an active and efficient request for proposal process is to specify the requirements just in time and contain enough detail. It also explains the contributions to the agile community as being the description of a practical application of XP concepts to a nonprogramming project which makes the case style requirements processes more agile.

Answering a¬†request for proposal‚Äďchallenges and proposed solutions, Paech, B., Heinrich, R., Zorn-Pauli, G., Jung, A., & Tadjiky, S. (2012, March). In¬†International Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality¬†(pp. 16-29). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. ¬†This article presents the experiences of a supplier company with tender processes. It also summarizes the challenges of the requirements of engineering for delicate procedures from the perspective of the suppliers and describes the various solutions employed by this company to overcome these challenges.

The Effect of Heterogeneity on Coalition Formation in Iterated Request for Proposal Scenarios., Mérida-Campos, C., & Willmott, S. (2006). EUMAS, 223.  This paper examines a broad model of economic exchange between heterogeneous agents. It describes the impact of task and skill heterogeneity in the population on the performance of the agents. The results gathered indicate that competitive population outperforms the conservative population and that the heterogeneity degree has a positive impact on the benefit of the first strategy versus the second.

The Request for Proposal (RFP), Mandell, S. F. (1986). Journal of medical systems, 10(1), 31-39. This article tries to give insight into what should be the goals and objectives of the request for proposal and then explains the elements that are essential in producing a capable instrument. It suggests that the proper development of a request for proposal will is a significant factor in the acquisition of a necessary and appropriate system.

Request for Proposal for PACS and evaluation of tenders, Lemke, H. U., Heuser, H., Pollack, T., & Niederlag, W. (2001). In Digital (R) Evolution in Radiology (pp. 35-39). Springer, Vienna.  This Research explains how information technology is quickly becoming a popular and central tool when it comes to the delivery of high quality and also cost-effective health care. It describes how different types of information systems are employed on all levels within and between the health care institutions.

Evaluation of nonfunctional requirements in a request for proposal (RFP), Saito, Y., Monden, A., & Matsumoto, K. (2012, October). In Software Measurement and the 2012 Seventh International Conference on Software Process and Product Measurement (IWSM-MENSURA), 2012 Joint Conference of the 22nd International Workshop on (pp. 106-111). IEEE.  This paper presents a simple evaluation model of non-functional requirements (NFRs) which are included in a request for proposal and mainly majors on the user maintenance and operational issues. This model was used to evaluate a sample of 29 requests for proposals, and the paper concluded that it could identify poorly-written NFR aspects in these requests.

Perceived quality auditors in the non-profit sector: Evidence from request for proposal choices, Tate, S., & Feng, N. (2013). Mustang Journal of Accounting and Finance, 4, 65-96. This study investigates the perceptions of non-profit organizations about which audit firms provide high-quality audits. It uses a survey to ask non-profit organizations in three areas to identify the audit firms they would send a request for proposal and present their reasons for each firm.

Request For Proposal, MENLYN, P. A., GLEN, L., BE, B. R. M., DELIVERED, H., TO, C., & INQUIRIES, S. (2018). This paper defines the request for proposal as a project funding announcement that an organization posts so that other companies can place bids for completing the project. A majority of organizations use these requests for proposals to secure the services of a contractor for a project. Governments also use them when they have big projects.

The objective requestforproposal, Taylor, J. B. (1986). Library hi tech, 4(1), 37-39.  This research explains that a request for proposal has four functions among them being the preparation of staff for systems implementation. Detailed performance and hardware specifications have characterized the traditional retail for proposals. These proposals also inhibit the vendor responses. The research discusses an alternative to them.

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