The number of technologies available to support learning and the ways to use them seems to increase every day. So does the number of vendors and freelance developers who have the skills and tools to use those technologies.

This article looks at the use of a Request for Proposal, or RFP, to facilitate outsourcing your development projects to an external source. Outsourcing applies whether you are looking for off-the-shelf materials or for custom (“bespoke”) development.

Why outsource learning materials and media?

Outsourcing development or acquisition of learning materials and media makes sense for two reasons:

  1. A lack of time: Your in-house staff may have the skills and tools to create particular training support materials. But when the home team is busy, you may need to outsource development work or buy materials off the shelf to meet all the company’s learning and performance goals.
  2. A lack of skills and tools: When a company has a learning development project that requires using a specific technology, the in-house staff may not yet have the skills and tools to create the materials and media in-house.

Successfully navigating the transition from in-house development to outsourced development or purchased content usually requires a request for proposals, or RFP, to solicit a response from vendors and developers. The objective of an RFP is to obtain multiple, accurately-priced quotes that can be fulfilled for on-time delivery.

What is in an RFP, exactly?

An RFP must provide clear and complete project information, and it must ask for a specific response as to the price and delivery time. It should ask for information about the vendor’s or developer’s qualifications and experience relating to the project. It must also provide additional information that anyone responding will need to know in order to make their proposal acceptable, such as agreeing to legal requirements (protecting proprietary information, terminating the project, processes for payment, and warrantees); the procedures that the vendor or developer must follow in submitting a response; and a statement of work (lays out the details of the work to be done). Incomplete or vague RFPs are most often ignored by vendors and developers.

The Learning Guild has published a number of articles dealing with RFP preparation, and has also included sessions in online conferences to show you how to create a winning request. Here are two of those resources for your consideration:

What else goes into an RFP?

Apart from articles and conference sessions or webinars, you should consult with your company purchasing manager. There may be templates or specific procedures provided by the organization, and the purchasing team can also provide additional guidance. Templates and forms for RFP preparation will probably need to be modified in the case of projects that involve professional services. A manager preparing an RFP should not be shy about asking for help from the experts!