Our company spends a good deal of time and energy responding to RPFs we consider a fit for our team. Over the years we've taken note of the essential ingredients of a well-formed RFP and the process that should follow. We've shared our thinking on the subject in a one-hour webinar that offers in-depth look at the RFP process from three key perspectives - "the legal marketing department," "the technology partner," and "the marketing technology industry analyst." What follows is a followup to that webinar, the collective view a truly successful Digital RFP shared by our team, partners, and clients. 

1. Look for partners, not vendors.

You are considering a relationship with a technology partner that will often last 3-5 years, if not longer. Are the key participants who are proposing the project going to be involved in the day to day of the project? Do the technology firm's references prove out the value the partner brings to clients over the long-term? Does the technology firm view the engagement as strictly financial, or an opportunity to do great work together?  

2. Set a realistic schedule and be transparent

Great proposals are a significant investment of time on behalf of the proposers, and a fair evaluation requires significant effort on your team’s part. Be sure to include:

  • 1-2 weeks for RFP review

  • Allow for a 1 week Q&A period with conference calls for clarifications

  • 2-3 weeks to write the proposal

  • 1 month for review and selection

Be transparent about your process and your proposers will reciprocate — For example, who will the actual decision makers be and will proposers be given the opportunity to make their case directly to them? What is a realistic range for the design and technology budget?  

3. Set the goal of a revolutionary or evolutionary redesign

Is the goal to lead the law firm pack with a leading digital presence or is the goal to simply stay relevant? Some key project requirements that are often overlooked in an RFP are:

  • Define your audience
  • Mobile requirements and Responsive Web Design (RWD)
  • Social media strategy and integration
  • Search requirements
  • Multilingual requirements
  • Data integration requirements
  • Technology requirements, if any
  • Expectations for ongoing hosting and maintenance
  • Similarities and differences expected for the new site compared to the old
  • Budget
  • Timeline for launch

To limit scope creep and budget overages, each of these key items must be discussed in detail with each potential technology partner ahead of the final decision. It is in your best interest to make a true apples to apples comparison.

4. Communicate regularly throughout the process, particularly during your internal decision-making phase.

If there are clear objections to moving forward with a technology partner, clearly lay out these objections and allow finalists to address them. Often, a frank conversation or new information can clear up misperceptions or biases.

5. Tell those that were not selected why they lost, with specificity.

Those of us that have made the commitment to service the profession are constantly working on our clients' and prospects' behalf to push the envelope: better technology, better features and better client experience and support. A big part of improving is feedback. Please be frank with yours.