The Digital Project: How to Prepare a Request for Proposal and Select a Vendor | Antonella Severo | Skillshare

The Digital Project: How to Prepare a Request for Proposal and Select a Vendor

Antonella Severo, The Digital Project

The Digital Project: How to Prepare a Request for Proposal and Select a Vendor

Antonella Severo, The Digital Project

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9 Lessons (24m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Preparing a Request for Proposal: Background Information

    • 3. RFP Scope of Work and Requirements

    • 4. RFP Submission Procedure

    • 5. Selecting a Vendor: Defining the Evalutation Criteria

    • 6. Where to Find Vendors

    • 7. Selecting Final Candidates and Conducting Evaluations

    • 8. Tips on Making a Final Vendor Choice

    • 9. Final Steps

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About This Class


Are you tasked with having to find a vendor for a digital project and not know where to start? The process may be overwhelming and daunting as you are faced with unfamiliar language and processes.

In this 24-minute class, digital project manager Antonella Severo will give you the tools and knowledge to identify and select the best vendor for your company’s digital project. Whether you are starting your own business and building a website for the first time or are tasked with leading the redesign for your company website, this course is appropriate for anyone new to interactive projects.

You will learn:
    •    How to prepare a Request for Proposal
    •    How to define your evaluation criteria
    •    Where to find vendors
    •    How to evaluate candidates for the shortlist and tips on making the final choice

For your class project, you will start preparing your own Request for Proposal for a real project, or practice with a suggested scenario.

No prior experience is required.

Meet Your Teacher

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Antonella Severo

The Digital Project


Antonella has more than 20 years experience in project management and web development for corporations, digital agencies, entrepreneurs, educational institutions and nonprofits, including This Old House, Time Inc. and Williams-Sonoma. She's counseled senior management on strategic planning initiatives for their web sites, and managed teams of writers, designers, programmers, online marketers and testers.

She has led many digital projects from WordPress sites to complex, enterprise-level ecommerce sites. Her varied, hands-on experience in marketing, design, SEO, testing and usability have enhanced her understanding of a project's needs and the business and technical strategies of the client.

Antonella enjoys training clients on the digital project process and digital platfo... See full profile

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1. Introduction: do you have to find a vendor for your digital project, and you're not sure what to do? This task may be daunting, an overwhelming as you're faced with unfamiliar language and processes, whether you're starting your own business and you need to build your website for the first time or you're leading a redesigned for your company, this course will give you the tools and knowledge to better identify into like vendors for your company's digital project. The session is appropriate for anyone new to interactive projects. In this course, you will learn how to prepare a request for proposals. Where to find vendors, how to define your evaluation criteria, how to evaluate candidates for short lists and tips on making the final choice for your class project. You will start preparing your own request for proposals for real project or practice with the suggested that area. No prior experience is required. My name is Antonella, and I've been running digital projects for more than 20 years for corporations, universities, small businesses and digital agencies, both as an internal employees and as a consultant. I hope to give you insight into the vendor selection process to help you make better decisions during this crucial step for your business. So click on the next segment and let's get started 2. Preparing a Request for Proposal: Background Information: the first section you're going to include in your request for proposal is about your organization right? A couple of paragraphs about what you do and whom you help help them endure. Understand your company's mission, organizational structure and global reach. Are you a small business? Are you a small department in a larger corporation? This is just, ah, highlight of what your company does. And again, a couple of paragraphs is enough. The vendor can look for more information about your company online. The next section is the project over you. Here, you want to provide a summary of the specific project. What is the main service of services you were looking for? Web site redesigned Responsive Development Marketing Services. The project overview should be a high level brief synopsis of the services you are looking for from a vendor. You will get into the details and other sections. So, for example, you might say something like ABC Company is seeking a digital agency to provide Web development services. The vendor will perform a redesign and engineering of our current site to make it modern looking and responses or something like ABC Company is requesting proposals from Rupel agencies to perform a migration from Triple seven to Tripoli. Another example. ABC companies currently undergoing a major redesign of his digital platforms were seeking a technology partner to perform the Web development and ongoing maintenance. So you get the idea here short but sweet. Now we move on to project goals. What do you want your digital project to accomplish? Think about your business objectives and your target audience and how this project will help meet those goals. Be specific with numbers or percentages such as membership goals, new applicants increase in sales. You should even rank the goals in terms of priorities. So, for example, you might say something like our primary goal is to increase sales for Mark E Commerce platform by 20% over the next two years. Are secondary goal is to educate prospective buyers and how to use our products. Another example are top priorities to generate revenues to increased membership, sponsorship opportunities and white papers. Our second priority is to provide a user friendly platform to connect with members Arthur Priorities to elevate. The brand is one of the leading institutions in the field. Off etcetera, etcetera list as many relevant goals as you need. The Target audience section is one of the most important pieces of information that you should be clear about from the success of your project of business. Who are you trying to target? What does he troll need to get or do on your platforms? Don't forget. Staff and other community members who will be publishing materials in administrative interface indicate which are primary, secondary and tertiary audiences. Here's some possible roles. Existing clients, existing suppliers, new potential clients, thunders and statutory bodies. Product Team content Editors. These rules are going to be specific to your business. For example, a company in the healthcare field may have physicians, nurses, lab technicians, etcetera list all possible targets so that the better can understand the true impact of your business. I just want to mention a word about stakeholders here. There are three types of stakeholders. The Project Working Team, the customers clients were affected by the finished result and those who exert influence over the project in terms of final approvals, budget and compliance issues. I covered this topic in depth in mice Digital Project Lifestyle Cycle Class. I will post a link in the class description when it is available for now. As you look at your target audience, start thinking about all the individuals departments, organizations that may be affected by the project or have an effect on it in the current situation here. Yeah, you need to talk about your current system and obstacles to achieving your business goals. You should provide a breach inventory of the current technical environment, for example, server locations, all digital properties you have available. You might have different websites and third party bender relationships that already providing functionality for the sites, such as membership databases, e commerce catalogs or registration systems. You should talk about your paint points. Why aren't these systems revealing your business objectives? Be specific about what is not working. Also provide relevant website usage justice statistics such as traffic per month or year. Unique visitors, The amount of band with used and anything else that you think is relevant 3. RFP Scope of Work and Requirements: the Functional Requirements section is the meat of your request for proposal. In this section, you will list all the functionality that you think will be central per unit. Digital assets Base specific. It's possible the more detailed you are, the more accurate the cost estimates will be. You want to think about what are the test your users will need to perform on your digital properties? Focus on describing the requirement, not the technical solution. Articulate your desired outcome and describe your objective. For example, you know that you need some sort of logging system so you might start listing out. We need to provide registered access to the site. Uses conexes different parts of the site based on their roles. We need three rolls student, teacher and administrator. The student role will have access to X y Z. The teacher will will have access to ABC or you might want to teach her for so we need a new teacher form where teachers can interact with each other. Discussion areas will be organized by topic specific experience, hands on labs and interactive's. So if you have a baseline of what you need, then you will work with the vendor to further flesh out uh, even mawr the detail of the requirement, but having this first level is extremely helpful. It's also important to identify which requirements are mandatory and which are optional, or wish list items, depending on the cost and time effort involved. So the wish list items can be pushed to future developments. Depending on your industry, you may need to have some sort of section about legal restrictions or compliance. In this section, you need to indicate the external legal restrictions industry or government compliance standards or quality standards such as esos that have to be considered in the scope of work and deliverables. You can list your expectations for the specific services to be performed. This school provides a basis for continuing discussion and negotiation. Throughout the proposal and strategy processes be as specific as possible and don't assume the service will be included. For example, content production and image acid creation is not typically included in a proposal budget unless it is specifically requested here. Some services that may be needed for technology project, although not all, are required for every project, especially given budget and time constraints. Some of these air typically provided by the client or would have to be contracting with other vendors. But some agencies may have capacity to offer all the services. I provide more examples in the RPI template. It's useful toe. Have a section on your internal assets, and resource is that could help the project use this section to talk about internal resources that make youth such as brand style guides. Do you have any visual design requirements that the vendor should be aware of when designing? Do you have a communication style guy that talks about the brand tone of voice and messaging? What type of artwork do you have available? Does your company have a photography archive? Are you planning to have any upcoming photo shoes? Do you have constituent artwork, for example, your school and you have Children's artwork that couldn't use? What about multimedia? What kind of video and audio libraries do you have? For example, I used to work for a home renovation TV show, and so we had plenty of assets to dio how to video library on home repair. Also important is to know what staff do you have available. You don't want to build out a site with all this functionality that is going to be impossible to maintain on a daily level because you don't have enough staff. So you definitely want to let the bender No. Who will be available to upload content? Do you have a copywriter who write the content for the redesign because you're always gonna have new copy needs when you're restructuring a site and any other people relevant to your organization? Maybe you have a photographer on staff, except also useful is to put a list of reference. Sites. Use this section to provide links to sites or acts that you like or find relevant to your situation. They don't have to be in the same industry. Highlight would featured you like about each. Is that the design? Is it a particular feature? There might be something else for a living to your company that isn't even on this list. So they threw your internal assets and get them in the document to 4. RFP Submission Procedure: now we talk about time and money in the time light section indicate if you have a suggested timeline or fixed deadline, do you have an event campaign, a promotion that you need? The website, done by a vendor may be a great suffering company, but due to all the project commitments, they can't work within your time frame. In the budget section, you'll stay your budget range and include any details that need. Explain such a payment schedule or fiscal here. Limitations, including a budget, will give agencies of more realistic view of your situation, and they can better propose solutions that fit your budget. You should also be aware that vendors typically have a discovery phase where they get to understand the project design of requirements and can create a more definite road map. During the discovery phase. There may need to be some re estimating from the technological execution phase as the requirements become clearer. Some of the initial function now that he specified in the request for proposal may become expanded while others might be dropped, so support to give the vendors and idea of any strict budget limitations. If you don't feel comfortable, including this in the request for proposal. You should handle it in a phone call. I will cover that later on in the course and a request for proposal. It's important to include information on the proposal submission procedure. You want to give the vendor in structures on what they need to include in their proposal, such as vendor information, an introduction to the project, their approach methodology, their proposed solution development plan, what the delivery balls are going to be, who is going to be working on the project. Examples of their previous work. A detailed timeline, their proposed budget, their ongoing costs for support training and development. Serving, hosting fees or recommendations if they don't supply it in terms of pain. These are just some items that are typical, but you can include your own. You also need to include information on the timeline. When does the RFP going to be since sent into selected vendors? When other proposals do, When are you going to conduct the vendor evaluations and when is the final decision going to be made? It's desired. You can indicate your decision criteria. This is optional. Mention if experience within subject matter industry organization size is important. Here's some options for your criteria list, such as professional quality, a proposed solution, competitive price and just experience. Communication style supported maintenance package references, agency side etcetera. You should include here whatever is important for your organization. I speak more about creating your evaluation criteria in the next section. So now we're done with the request for proposal portion of this class and now we move on to have a select a vendor. 5. Selecting a Vendor: Defining the Evalutation Criteria: Selecting a vendor for your digital project is a lot like finding a contractor for your home renovation. You need to feel comfortable in the relationship. All projects start off on a high note, but they will go downhill. You will encounter obstacles and challenges along the way, so you need to feel that you have trust and good communication flow between the two parties . It's also important to keep in mind that for most digital projects, you're going to need a long term service with the company for future maintenance and development. So you wanted. Sure, you have a great relationship with them. So here's some steps for defining your evaluation criteria and finding the best fit for your company. In order to know which vendor will be the best fit for your project, you need to make a list of what criteria is important to you. The list can include items we listed in the previous session, such as professional quality, proposed solution, competitive price industry experience, etcetera. You can even take each of these categories and define specific items for each. For example, under industry experience, you might say that experience with the software good standing in the community there is important. Ah, lot of these are rather obvious, but this is just an example. You certainly don't have to use these criteria and sub items. It's an example of how you can construct your own bender criteria. Definitions. Then what you should do is create a vendor rating matrix, which you will use at the final candidates stage. In this matrix, you will create the following columns criteria cow category. So this is just the general, the overall topic rating score. And here you want to create a column for each person who will be doing the ratings. A sub total of those ratings. Then you want to also give weight to each category. Some might have more importance than other, and that you can reflected in the weight and then the total score. I've included these worksheets and the resource links below for your convenience. So once you have defined your criteria and created your worksheets, put them aside until later on. Having an understand of what you're looking for will help you better evaluate the vendors further on in the process. 6. Where to Find Vendors: So where do you find vendors? This is often the part where clients feel a little loss as to where to start. Here are a few tips to creating an initial list. Ask professional contacts and friends alike for referrals, like with anything. Find out who similar companies in your industry or using agencies tend to build portfolios in the same field so their knowledge of your industry can benefit your company. Did you see a site you like? Contact them and ask for a referral? It doesn't even have to be in the same industry as yours. If you know the platform you want to use, look at the software's website. There may be a section on recommended partners. Do a Web search to see what comes up in your area. Check out social media and see what the conversations are all about and maybe check out some local meet up groups around technology. You can either tend them. We're just look on their site to see who's in the community and follow up from there. When you have a list of vendors, arrange a phone call to get a feel for the company and the type of work they do see if you can understand their budget levels, your project may not be a sit for them. For example, you might describe the project and then say you have a budget of such and such a range with this fit within their pricing structure for a project of this size and complexity in this manner, you may eliminate wasting your company and agencies time. Also, check the social media, the agencies. They will be talking about their clients and successes. There, you can get a great idea of their style and working culture from here. We don't those you don't have a good feeling about or clearly aren't. If it you should end up with about 68 companies. You really don't want more than that because it is a time consuming process and finally sent out that requested proposal to the selected list. 7. Selecting Final Candidates and Conducting Evaluations: once the proposals airman, it's time to evaluate them. Very slight. If the proposal is complete or provides enough information so that you can get a sense of the agency's methodologies and understanding of your project, consider the pricing range of all the proposals. Is there one that is much lower than the rest? Do you have a sense they're setting the price low to get the job? Is there one that is much higher than the rest? Do they have valid reasons for being so? For example, are they the top rated agency? Do they provide a more extensive service than the rest? Can you justify selecting them? Review their portfolio or sample projects, then narrow down your list to meet with 3 to 4 candidates? Be sure to share the proposals with anyone who has to prove the selection or budget, such as a supervisor aboard Accepted. Also create a list of questions you want to get more detail about. Do this for each candidate and send it out to them with a due date. Now it's time to meet the final candidates arranged in person meetings or at least face to face video conferences. Make sure that the key person in your company who makes the final decision and is accountable can attend the meetings and as much as it's possible before meeting, review the vendor proposal. The responses to the question There's create a new list of issues that you think still need clarification at the meeting. Ask the vendor to run through their proposal and samples of their work. Ask them to show sample of the administrative interface, ask the questions you prepared and give that time to ask the wrong questions. Get a sense of their communication style organizational structure. And who will you be interacting with on a daily basis right after the meeting, with each pull out those worksheets who created before and rate them against each criteria . 8. Tips on Making a Final Vendor Choice: After you have met with and rated all the vendors, you're ready to make your final choice. Review the selection matrix Who got the best score? Are the ratings close or is there a clear winner? You don't necessarily have to go with the one with the highest score, but this matrix will give you a clearer method to compare the vendors visualized meeting and working with each team. Dele. Ask your team questions such as Which agency approaches problems in a way that works best with your organization? Who has proposed solutions that are in line with your long term goals? Which agency will foster successful, lasting relationship instead of short term solutions? Evaluate your gut feelings. This is a very important one. Finally, go for it and make a decision. Give your vendor call and get the project started. 9. Final Steps: So what you made your decision is time to finalizing. Get that contract sign. Make sure to leave enough time in your practice schedule for this step. I've seen a take upto 1 to 2 months to go through directors and the legal department and get vetted and signed, and this could really delay your project. Also, don't forget to contact the other vendors who were not selected and graciously thanked them for their participation in your process. They've taken a lot of time to prepare the proposal for your search. Let them know that you will keep in mind for future projects since you've already vetted them. It's a great idea to keep connected with them and stay in good standing, just in case something doesn't work out with the vendor that you did choose. I hope it gave you good insights into the vendor selection process and gave you tools to facilitate date this process. So best of luck finding your next vendor Uh