Rafting the RFP Rapids

April 2017

By Georg Krammer, CEO, and Ruth Zablotsky, Administrative Analyst

The floodgates have opened.  And we are not talking about water running over California dams during this year’s epic rainfall!  Over the last couple of years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from public agencies.  Year over year, we noticed a 14% increase in the number of RFPs for a variety of HR Services from 2015 to 2016.  Already in the first quarter of 2017, we have logged a 63% increase in the number of RFPs received in our office compared to Q1 2016.

Our August 2016 newsletter article, Make Time for Change, stated that with the slow, steady improvement of the economy, we are finally seeing more movement in public sector compensation. Some agencies are slowly implementing cost of living adjustments again, while others are undertaking full-blown total compensation studies (often including an agency-wide classification study component) to readjust their compensation plans and remain competitive with the market.  Agencies are anxious to get the ball rolling on these studies.  It is important for agencies to start planning early because the process from developing an RFP to getting a final deliverable from a Class/Comp Study for purposes of labor negotiations could easily be a year.

Here are the things to consider when developing a new RFP.

RFP Development Process

  1. Determine the project schedule
  2. Organize the RFP team:  include key stakeholders and identify the project manager and team
  3. Determine the formality of the RFP Process:  RFQs, formal RFP, informal RFP, no RFP at all, detailed narrative or bullet point format to show methodology
  4. Pre-bid Conference:  optional phone conference to answer questions from potential bidders
  5. Determine project budget
  6. Decide whom to invite to submit RFP:  trade publications, journals, websites, referrals from colleagues, previous firms with whom your agency has worked

Sample RFP Outline

  1. Organization Background
  2. Scope of Work and Work Plan
  3. Project Schedule
  4. Type and Term of Contract
  5. Administrative Details
  6. Submission Requirements
  7. Evaluation Criteria
  8. Selection Process

Timeline for Creating RFP

The timeline for creating an RFP varies widely between agencies.  On average, once an RFP is issued, there can be approximately 30-40 days for responding consulting firms to submit proposals. Then, there is an additional 15-30 day waiting period before a contract is awarded.  Another 15-30 days will pass for signing contracts before the initial project meeting can be scheduled.  But even before the RFP is issued, the process of writing the RFP can take a long time:  weeks or even months.   This means that you might need to think about developing and issuing an RFP up to 18 months in advance of when you hope to receive a final deliverable.

Time and Cost-Saving RFP Suggestions

  • Network with other public agencies to share RFP templates;
  • Piggyback off other agency “joint” contracts (i.e., SACOG Joint HR Services contract), if your agency allows piggybacking;
  • Include a copy of your professional services agreement to ensure compliance;
  • If your legal department requires non-collusion affidavits, or any other types of statements or special forms, they should go with the RFP;
  • Be realistic with your timeline. Our professional experience is that depending on the size of the agency, classification and compensation studies can take approximately six to twelve (6-12) months to complete, allowing for adequate PDQ completion, interview time, classification description review and/or development, compensation data collection and analysis, review steps by the agency, the development of final reports, any appeals, and presentations.
  • If you have specific comparable agencies you wish to use in the compensation portion of your study, list agency names;
  • If a Class/Comp Study, include the number of classifications to be studied, the number of employees in each class, and the total number of employees (ideally, provide an allocation list so that the consultant can zero in on the exact scope of work and calculate consultant hours and cost more precisely).  If there are vacant classifications be sure to indicate whether you wish to have them studied or eliminated.  Decide whether you want to include regular part-time employees in the study and if so, indicate such in the RFP;
  • Include an organizational chart.

Taking these steps will ensure a smoother response to the RFP, and ultimately save time and money for your agency.

Contact us to discuss the unique attributes of your own organization.

Koff & Associates