If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, did it make a sound?

Organizations, whether they are non-profits, corporations or municipal governments, spend a lot of time defining a project’s requirements, crafting a detailed 100 page Request for Proposals (RFP), and then announce the project on their website, or possibly advertise in a local newspaper, and set a 3 week deadline for submissions. They then sit back and wait for the proposals to come rolling in. If they’re lucky they get a small handful of proposals.

What happens is that only a small group of local vendors, or vendors known by individuals within the organization, are notified of the RFP. While the process started out with good intentions of an impartial competitive bidding process and finding new solutions, the process is essentially derailed by the inability to promote unsolicited bids.

Procurement officers, whether official or unofficial, need to understand that advertising their RFP and getting a number of unsolicited competitive bids is an essential element to the success of their bidding process.

Publicizing your RFP doesn’t need to cost lots of money or be time consuming.

A quick way to advertise your RFP is to publish it on the Request for Proposal Database, you can list it on your local Craig’s List site, or you could set up a project blog using sites such as Blogger or WordPress. Since these sites get higher search engine placement and have good content distribution, announcing your RFP through these venues will likely significantly increase the number of competitive bids that you receive. Other sites are associations or portal sites for the service providers you are seeking.

For instance, if you are a non-profit seeking “Association Management” services, you could post the project announcement under your city’s “Non-Profit Jobs” category on Craig’s List, on the RFP Database’s “Management” category, or perhaps submit it for distribution to the Center for Association Leadership.

All of these possibilities would be free or inexpensive, but would get your RFP in front of the people that would be interested in bidding on the project, bring you a wider range of project proposals, and provide you with a better chance of finding the right solution for your organization.