Friday, November 19, 2010

Request for Proposal, or, Trying to Bypass Design

Consider what an RFP for a house might look like, were it to be written in the manner of an RFP for a Web site or software project:

Request For Proposal

1) Contractor shall construct one building shelter, to accommodate one (1) family including all bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and toilet(s).

2) All work performed must comply with industry standards.

3) Wood studs and gypsum drywall are acceptable materials for construction.

Proposals without detailed plans and estimates will not be accepted.

Do you think developers give you wildly varying proposals? Is your RFP process designed to get others to do design work for you for free? Then it masks your own lack of due diligence, and you will get every bit of design that you pay for.

Big Design Up Front is not necessary nor is it sufficient for a project's success. But you still need to take the process seriously. Such requests are a clear indication that the RFP writer is not at all serious about project success.

Personally, I think RFPs used to elicit design input without payment are unethical. The behavior is no better than asking one dentist to lay out a strategy for fixing your teeth, then paying another to follow the program without remuneration to the first.

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