Your RFP Format: Why It Matters

Why Should You Care About Your RFP Format?

PurchTips Edition #359 Click here for the printer-friendly version

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NLPA Member Question: Are there any limits for the RFP size or it will depend on the scope of work?

The ideal format of an RFP will vary based upon the situation. You should have two goals for your RFP: (1) maximizing competition, and (2) getting your “best fit” suppliers to respond. A poorly formatted RFP can cause you to fall short of those two goals by failing to get enough of the right suppliers to respond. An RFP that is too long has the “scare factor” that scares suppliers away from investing the time to respond.

Therefore, you should focus on making your RFP’s as concise as practical. This can be done by NOT including:

  • Requests for information that is not truly needed
  • Redundant or conflicting verbiage
  • Requests for information that is only needed from short listed suppliers and can be requested later

For comparison, the RFP template available in the NLPA Library has four pages plus a cover page and two exhibits.


NLPA Member Question: You have said that the “scare factor” not only applies to RFP’s, but to purchase orders, and supplier registration forms, too. What is the scare factor of a PO?

I’ve been seeing a lot of purchase orders containing way too many terms and conditions. I have seen purchase orders exceed a dozen pages, even though they were orders for the simplest products and services. This can cause delayed delivery of products or performance of services as suppliers will often seek legal review of the terms and conditions and negotiate terms with which they are unwilling to comply. In addition, suppliers can decline to do business with you. Extended terms and conditions should only be used when appropriate and not in every situation.


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Copyright 2016. This article is the property of the Next Level Purchasing Association and may not be copied or republished in any form without the express written consent of the Next Level Purchasing Association. Click here to request republishing permission.

By Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3