This chapter explains the process of soliciting research proposals using RFPs, the format of the resulting proposals, and the evaluation of the proposals.
The proposal process in business research uses two primary documents: the request for proposal (RFP) and the research proposal. The RFP is the formal document issued by a corporate business research department, a decision maker, or some other sponsor to solicit services from research suppliers. It invites qualified suppliers to submit a proposal in accordance with a specific, detailed format delivered by a deadline. Internal research proposal process is often far less formalized.
The proposal process in business research uses two primary documents: the request for proposal (RFP) is used when the firm has neither the time nor the expertise to do the research itself. This half of Exhibit 4-1 is designed so that you may focus on only the external RFP process. A complete RFP is included in the text as Appendix 4a.
RFPs provide several benefits. The benefit to the sponsoring organization is an opportunity to formalize the process of documenting, justifying, and authorizing the procurement of research. RFPs also provide a chance to evaluate different solutions and offer the means of establishing, monitoring, and controlling the performance of the winning supplier.
RFPs should not be used for any of the reasons named in this slide.
There are several objectives that must be accomplished during the RFP process. These are identified in the slide. Supplier questions can be addressed informally or as part of a prebidding conference. Critiquing the proposals for the suppliers who were not chosen for the project will help unsuccessful bidders become competitive in the future and maintain good will for future projects.
While the specific format for RFPs varies from organization to organization, the general components are the same. These are listed in the slide. The proposal administration section provides information on the administration of the project. It establishes the dates in the process, all requirements for preparing the proposal, and the evaluation process. It also provides all contact information. The summary statement section often takes the form of a letter introducing the organization and its research needs. The technical section describes the problem and the technical detail of each requirement. It describes the necessary services, equipment, software, and documentation. It includes a problem statement, description of functional requirements, and identification of constraints. The management section lists the schedule and any supplier qualifications. The types of contracts the supplier is expected to sign and any nondisclosure agreements are included in this section. Terms of payment and required benchmarks are also included in the contracts section. In the pricing section, a list of all anticipated activities are included.
This is a list of items that might be detailed in the pricing section.
While RFP formats vary widely, a typical format will contain the elements detailed in the slide. The background section includes an overview or profile of the buyer’s company, project overview, and project requirements. The vendor information section includes the company profile, history and description, legal summary, partnerships and alliances, and references. The cost proposal section includes services pricing, maintenance pricing, and contractual terms and conditions.
Exhibit 4-2 shows a checklist for qualifying research suppliers. The graph illustrates the relevant issues for the research supplier, the research supplier’s staff, and the research supplier’s facilities, procedures and quality management.
The proposal process in business research uses two primary documents: the request for proposal (RFP) and the research proposal. The internal research proposal is used when the firm has both the time and the expertise to do the appropriate research internally.
A proposal is an individual’s or company’s offer to produce a product or render a service to a potential buyer or sponsor. This slide shows the purpose of the research proposal. Exhibit 4-3, on the next slide, illustrates the proposal development process.
In this slide, it is important to point out the iterative fashion in which a proposal is developed.
Research proposals can be divided between those generated for internal and those for external audiences. An internal proposal is done by staff specialists or by the research department within the firm. External proposals may sponsored by university grant committees, government agencies, government contractors, not-for-profit organizations, or corporations . Generally, the larger the project, the more complex the proposal. These can be further classified: Solicited proposals Unsolicited proposals There are three levels of complexity : exploratory studies, small-scale studies, and large-scale studies. The exploratory study generates the most simple research proposal. The large-scale professional study is the most complex and could be worth up to several million dollars.
This is the list of modules that may be included in a research proposal. Exhibit 4-5, shown on the next slide, displays the set of modules and indicates which modules are generally present in different types of proposals.
The section of the proposal that deals with the qualifications of researchers begins with information on the principal investigator (PI) and then provides similar information on all individuals involved with the project. The two elements critical in this section are the establishment of the professional research competence and the relevant management experience. Professional research competence is based on relevant research experience, the highest academic degree held, and memberships in business and technical societies.
This is a sample budget for a research proposal.
The schedule section of the proposal should include the major phases of the project, their timetables, and the milestones that signify completion of a phase. It is helpful to chart a schedule. Some projects can use a Gantt chart, but large projects may require use of a CPM chart. The critical path method (CPM) is a scheduling tool for complex research proposals that cites milestones and time involved between milestones.
Ch 4. Business Research Requests
Chapter 4 Business Research Requests and Proposals
Learning Objectives <ul><li>The purpose of the request for proposal and the research proposal; how each is used </li></ul><ul><li>The variations on each and their contents </li></ul><ul><li>The processes for evaluating the quality of proposals </li></ul>
Exhibit 4-1 The Research Proposal Process: Using a Research Supplier
Benefits of the RFP RFPs Provide monitoring device Provide control function Provide evaluation opportunity Formalize research procurement process Establish performance expectations
Unethical Uses of RFPs <ul><li>Help sponsor plan project budget </li></ul><ul><li>Gather cost estimates and design ideas for in-house projects </li></ul><ul><li>Create impression of competitive bid for sole-source project </li></ul>
Activities in the RFP Process Qualify potential vendors Write and distribute RFP Answer supplier questions Evaluate submissions Provide critique to all suppliers Award contracts and start
RFP Components Proposal administration information Summary statement of problem Technical section Management section Pricing section Contracts and license section