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The RFP: It's Not Just for Big Business

by David Wyndham 1. January 2007 00:00
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By: David J. Wyndham

Government agencies and large organizations require a Request For Proposal (RFP) on large acquisitions. However, you don't have to have a huge corporation to make use of this process. It works even for a small organization or an individual. It is the process that counts. I'll go over the "rules" and downsize them as appropriate.

Rule #1. Separate performance and cost. Set up your RFP so that there is a clear distinction between the two. The performance covers the technical, support, warranty, configuration, and schedule, requirements. Cost covers the method(s) of acquisition, and associated fees and costs. Make sure the mission drives these requirements. Downsizing this is not needed. Whether your mission is New York to Paris or New Haven to Burlington, you want to make sure the aircraft you are considering will perform whatever mission you have. Separating cost and performance allows you to do an unbiased evaluation of the technical merits of the aircraft and the proposals before even considering cost.

Rule #2. Make sure your RFP is complete. Does it cover all major, relevant areas, such as avionics, cabin furnishings, optional equipment, warranties (including any extended warranties), training (flight crew, cabin crew and maintenance personnel), trade-in allowance (if applicable), delivery schedule, payment schedule, etc? Downsizing this means make a list of all the options that you want.

Big Jet or LSA, make sure your list clearly distinguishes between the required items (must have to do your mission) and desired items (would enhance the ability to perform the mission). The smaller the aircraft, the smaller this list gets. This is important so that "nice to have" items don't outweigh the "must-have" items. It also plays a part in establishing the value of the proposal.

Rule #3. Stick to measurable items. Each item listed must be quantified. You can't rank order "nice" and "attractive" but you can rank order pilot leg room and baggage space.

This allows you to easily assign a rank order to each item. Here is one that is straight forward:

0 = Does not meet required criterion (i.e. unacceptable)
1 = Meets required criterion
2 = Exceeds required criterion
3 = Meets or exceeds desired criterion

Any aircraft getting a zero in a required category does not meet your mission requirement and it no longer need be considered. A zero with a desirable quality will not disqualify an aircraft, but other aircraft with better scores may be a better value to you.

Rule #4. Be fair. Make sure each company that you send this RFP has the necessary information to respond. Downsizing this is a mater of communicating your requirements to whatever aircraft sales organization that you deal with. It can simply be a list of questions for each sales group along with a cover note.

Rule #5. Be prepared for the evaluations. Having done your homework and having already researched the costs, evaluating the proposals is a mix of confirming what you know, and adding in the details to what was in question. Downsizing this means you do it yourself, and maybe with a friend.

The goal of the RFP process is to have an objective way of ranking the technical & performance aspects of an aircraft along with the costs, and "value" to you. Rank ordering in this way will give you guidance for making the final decision. Remember; acting on impulse with aircraft (or women) can get you into trouble some times!

As always we welcome your input and experiences please post your questions or replies below.

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David Wyndham


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