Summer is the time of year when the education sector starts planning requests for proposals (RFPs), before issuing them starting in November. The purpose of the RFP is to find a vendor that can best meet your needs, but the challenge remains to develop an accurate RFP.
There are many reasons your RFP may miss the mark, including: repurposing an RFP for a different project causing contradictions or redundancies, a rush to issue the RFP to keep the process rolling creating an incomplete representation of your needs, or incorrectly structuring your RFP making it hard for vendors to provide critical information. To make sure your RFP best presents your needs and connects you with the correct vendor, we recommend that you take the following steps.
- Create a new RFP for each project
It can be tempting to pull out a previously created RFP and adapt it for your new project. However, this is a surefire way to inaccurately represent your current project. In fact, this could introduce contradictions in your RFP, confusing vendors, receiving incorrect or incomplete solutions, and perhaps deterring the right vendor from submitting a proposal. It is better to use previous RFPs as guides and create a new RFP for each project.
- Allocate time for the RFP in your process
While many aspects of the RFP may be out of your hands due to committees, you can include time to develop the RFP in the timeline. When there is less pressure to issue the RFP, this reduces the opportunity to leave out key details. If you allocate time from the beginning of the process to develop the RFP, you will be able to work with all the stakeholders to get a complete picture of the request.
- Provide clear background information
Include information about the student population, the culture of the school or district, the community, the learning objectives, and the resources available. This information will help a vendor decide if they are a good fit and should move forward in submitting a proposal. This background information also allows them to assess your limitations and include a variety of solutions.
- Don’t get hung up on the details
Your school district RFP is a way for you to present specifications, requirements, and constraints. Your vendors take these details and have the opportunity to present solutions that maybe you hadn’t thought of. Instead of worrying about all the small details, focus on the big picture. Provide the information that is relevant, such as imperative dates and your budget, but allow room for creativity from the vendors. This is where they can bring their prior experience and applicable expertise to benefit you.
Conterra Networks provides reliable internet solutions to the education sector
We know that the first step to supporting students with reliable network solutions is developing an RFP that connects you with a vendor that can deliver solutions best for your need. At Conterra Networks, we have provided $40 million of internet solutions to under-connected students. We work with schools and libraries to build better networks that provide school broadband and student access, allowing educators to better serve their communities.
Conterra Networks is invested in helping our communities succeed and continues to work to support students and educators. To learn more about our education network solutions or to explore our reliable fiber-based networks, contact us here.