RFP 101: How to Build an Effective Request for Proposal
Aug 4, 2020 -
Remediation design and field implementation are critical to a project’s success, but an equally important component is often given much less attention: the Request for Proposal (RFP).
When the RFP requirements are too vaguely worded, a bidder may miss the mark when designing and implementing the solution. Overly detailed and restrictive requirements, however, limit the bidder's creativity and stifle innovation. The skill with which a consultant creates an RFP can dictate the quality of a bidder's response and, consequently, the success or failure of their resulting remediation work. That’s why it’s important to understand how to write an effective RFP.
In this blog post, I’ll cover the basics about what belongs in your RFP. If you’d like to dive a little deeper, register for next week’s webinar, Can Your RFP Influence In Situ Groundwater Remediation Costs and Results? I’ll be going into more detail and taking questions during the Q&A.
What is a Request for Proposal?
Investopedia defines an RFP “as a business document that announces and provides details about a project, as well as solicits bids from contractors who will help complete the project.”
For remediation, the “project” is the cleanup of a contaminated site, typically with both soil and groundwater contamination. The “details” of the project help the contractor develop a remediation approach and costs, and include the site description and statement of work (SOW). “Complete” refers to meeting remediation objectives over a specified timeline, which can range from long term monitored natural attenuation (MNA) and institutional controls or all the way to achieving safe groundwater standards.
There are multiple goals an RFP should accomplish. A few of the most common include:
- Informing potential contractors or suppliers that you’re looking for a product or service,and asking them to put together a competitive proposal
- Describing the product or service you need with enough detail for contractors and vendors to know whether they are qualified to bid
- Letting bidders know if there is a competitive selection process, and if you’re interested in a lump sum or time-and-materials payment structure
- Providing evaluation and selection criteria, when possible, to help contractors align their proposal with your project goals
- Setting expectations about the bidding process, expected format of proposals, timeline for decision making, and required contract details
What Should an Effective In Situ Remediation RFP Contain?
As mentioned above, an RFP typically contains two important sections: the site description and the statement of work (SOW). A third and equally important section explains to contractors what they need to do to present a bid. This includes guidance to bidders about how to prepare a proposal as well as how qualifying proposals will be evaluated. If there are any non-negotiable contract clauses or payment terms for the project, those also must be included in the RFP.
What Should a Site Description Include?
The site description is a key component of the RFP and defines the actual conditions the bidder will encounter on the project site. This is probably the most important aspect of an RFP. It is also a potential source of confusion due to lack of information. In most cases where change orders are initiated by the successful bidder, variation between actual versus described site conditions are the root cause.
A complete site description should include:
- Site map delineating treatment area and specified square footage
- Site photos if site walk is not offered
- Treatment interval(s)
- Representative well log(s), blow counts, and depth to groundwater, seasonal groundwater elevation changes
- Above or below ground utilities or other logistical issues
- If remedial design support is required, e.g. dosing and delivery approach, include:
- Conceptual site model (CSM) including contaminant concentrations in NAPL, soil, soil gas and groundwater phases
- High resolution site characterization (HRSC) logs and reports if performed
- Previous remediation events, outcomes, and reports
- Groundwater geochemistry
- Hydraulic conductivity of target intervals
- Groundwater seepage velocity and flow direction
- Remediation objectives and timelines
- Post injection performance monitoring approach
What Should a Statement of Work Include?
A statement of work section documents the expectations you have of the winning bidder once work begins. It’s important for this to be clearly outlined in the RFP so contractors understand exactly what they need to price out and estimate for you.
The statement of work should include:
- Number of injection locations and new performance monitoring well locations
- Delivery approach, e.g. direct push and/or well injection
- Distribution verification requirements and ramifications if not achieved
- Amendments pounds and diluted solution to be injected
- Injection flowrate and pressure restrictions
- Dilution water availability and pretreatment requirements
- Injection amendment sequencing
- Who purchases amendments?
- Required equipment specifications, e.g. pumps, drill rigs, mixing systems
- Unique site logistics that can impact remediation performance, e.g. traffic control, manifold optimization restrictions, site and injection location access
- Injection documentation and reporting requirements
- Health and safety documentation and reporting
In addition to these two key components of the RFP, the actual qualification of bidders should to be evaluated. Representative and referenceable projects should include similar lithology, target interval depths, injection equipment, and amendments. Just as important, the qualifications and experience of the proposed bidder’s design and field implementation team.
There’s a lot that goes into crafting a well-written RFP, but the results are worth it. If you’d like to learn more about how you can improve your RFP skills, join me next week at the webinar.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
VICE PRESIDENT OF TECHNOLOGY & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Eliot Cooper is the Vice President of Technology and Business Development. In this role, he helps clients design efficient and cost-effective remedies using high resolution site characterization (HRSC) and a vast array of remediation options. His specialty is finding the right combination of tools and technologies for complex sites, and ensuring every step of the remediation process is optimized to achieve results.
Eliot draws on a career that spans more than 30 years in the environmental remediation industry and includes hundreds of projects nationwide. He’s remediated sites that involved hex chrome, fuel spills, and chlorinated solvents. He specializes in injected remedy delivery, remediation design support, characterization of VOCs, and tackling complex sites by combining multiple remediation technologies.
Eliot previously served at the Environmental Protection Agency in both air pollution and hazardous waste management programs, as well as in the private sector providing thermal combustion and in situ remediation field services. Eliot now leads Cascade's in situ remediation solutions team to evaluate available technologies to meet client goals, provide advanced delivery techniques, and ensure HRSC results in actionable solutions.