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Best Practices for Producing an Effective RFQ

Best Practices for Producing an Effective RFQ

A well-constructed RFQ/RFP will contribute to an effective and efficient bid comparison process. When creating an RFQ for General Contractors and Construction Managers, it is imperative to include the project background and scope and outline the criteria for bid submissions. This ensures that all project elements are addressed in submitted bids, resulting in complete and level responses.

In addition to providing detailed project requirements, RFQs and RFPs should include the following:

  1. Design or Schematic Drawing(s)
  2. Project Delivery Terms and Timelines
  3. Selection Criteria and Feedback to Bidders

Design or Schematic Drawing(s)

Conceptual plans, designs, and schematics must be part of the RFQ/RFP for bidders to develop accurate construction budgets. Project designs and schematics should have enough detail and guidance to establish complete responses. Creating and providing a set of standard specifications, even for speculative spaces, informs the bidders of project expectations. Be sure to:

  1. Provide trade guidance for Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing scopes, so the bidders understand the needs and usage of the space. This prevents getting different perspectives from each bidder and promotes level bids.
  2. Be clear about who is responsible for often overlooked scopes such as furniture, low voltage, and lab casework. These scopes should be part of the early project team discussions regardless of who is holding the contract.
  3. Include a clean black-and-white schematic easily scalable by the estimator. The schematic should easily generate an accurate quantity take-off. DON’T provide a single sheet, not to scale schematic in a colored block plan format. This poses challenges for estimating, especially with quantity take-off.

Project Delivery Terms and Timelines

With an ever-changing construction market, the anticipated timeline for each project is critical to budget pricing assumptions. The RFQ/RFP must establish milestone dates for permit submission, anticipated start, and move-in deadlines. Built-in contingencies must also be communicated and addressed. Even if a detailed schedule is requested, setting milestone dates as a guideline will ensure schedules are aligned. When terms and guidelines are provided, a bidder’s efficiencies or suggested creative adjustments will be evident in each submission.

Be sure to have realistic expectations with start and delivery dates. In addition to deliverable dates, include timelines that reflect elapsed time for achieving project milestones. These timeframes can reflect the contingency of start dates having to be adjusted due to the supply chain environment that has not yet stabilized.

Providing a straightforward and efficient path to bid submission will also increase the likelihood of submitted bids being level bids. When outlining bid instructions:

  1. Give bidders enough time to process the information provided, especially if a detailed bid is requested. This allows bidders to gain input from their trusted subcontractors and supplier partners.
  2. Be clear on deliverables.
    1. ROM or a detailed budget?
    2. Will the budget be used in consideration of the General Contractor award?
    3. Disclose payment terms and other terms and conditions that are part of the project contract. These terms are essential to include as they may impact a bidder’s proposal.
    4. Are there unique selection criteria?
  1. Provide Q&A protocols and dates.
    1. How are questions to be submitted, and what is the response process (i.e., are Q&A’s viewable by all bidders, are Q&A’s submitted through a portal or shared document, etc.)?
    2. What are the deadlines for question submissions and responses?
  1. Provide bid submission procedures.
    1. What is the date and time deadline for submission?
    2. How are bids to be submitted (i.e., via a portal, email, etc.)?
  2. Detail the timeline for bid review and contract award.


Selection Criteria and Feedback

The RFQ/RFP review and selection process should be disclosed to the bidders. Several factors should be considered when evaluating submitted bids, such as team experience, cost, and schedule. Creating a matrix to identify the project’s most important criteria and sharing it with the bidders allows them to build their responses with those factors at the forefront.

Once a contract is awarded, share key factors of the award with each bidder. DON’T wait too long between notification of the winner and those who were unsuccessful. Nothing is worse than hearing a job was lost from a subcontractor before hearing it from the prospective client.

Providing bidders with a properly outlined and detailed RFQ delivers a framework for leveling bids; this saves time for all parties, avoids confusion, and results in an effective and efficient bid evaluation process.