ND APEX Accelerator

A resource for assisting North Dakota businesses in obtaining federal, state, and local government contracts.

April 2022: Bidding Basics for RFPs

A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that asks for bids on a given project to which qualified businesses will enter competing offers. The requesting firm then selects which organization it sees most fit and capable to undertake the task in question. RFPs appear to demand a complicated and daunting bidding process, but with assistance and resources, it doesn’t need to be.

The first step from the business’s end is to find RFPs applicable to the goods or services it prepares. Most RFPs will be found directly through the issuing organization’s website but they can also be found through bid services that pull and compile them according to your firm’s keywords and industry codes such as PSC and NAICS codes:

  • Use keywords
  • Know your industry codes – PSC, NAICS
  • Decide on the geographic search area
  • Choose a provider (also available from most PTACs at no cost)

There is often a period for pre-proposal questions that potential bidders may have on the RFP. As a bidder, you should be mindful of these deadlines since the issuing organization will often not answer questions outside of this time window. This applies to the submission deadline as well. If the submission deadline has passed, the bid will be returned unopened. Punctuality is key in the bidding world. Organizations will see delays as a reason to eliminate bids to find the most qualified bidder as they will likely receive numerous proposals.

After the pre-proposal question period is the process of formulating a proposal or bid on the request. There are generally instructions included on the request as to what is required for a proper bid. Think of it as a prospective employee submitting a cover letter and résumé to convey his or her qualification for employment. Advocate for the strengths of your business and its capabilities. The primary elements of a bid usually consist of the following:

  • Contact information
  • Summary of your organization’s capabilities, what sets you apart from competitors, and scope of services
  • Action items, detailed description of deliverables, proposed project budget
  • Signature page manually signed with ink

Refer to this example for a more detailed description of the proposal process. Your local PTAC is here to assist in this process.

As always, if you are not sure where to start or how to get organized, connect with the North Dakota Procurement Technical Assistance Center (ND PTAC). Our services are at no cost to businesses based in the state of North Dakota. Register to schedule an appointment. Additionally, take advantage of the many other training opportunities and events listed on the ND PTAC website.

Not from North Dakota? Find your closest PTAC on the APTAC website and then click on your state.