Are you able to easily choose your supplier of training based on their RFP response to your tender? Can you compare the received offers easily? Are you looking for e-learning, virtual or blended training? Do suppliers understand your requirements, or will you need to spend lots of time answering clarification questions?
Preparing a professional Request for Proposal (RPF) for training services is an important skill. It involves substantial effort on procurement personnel and managers in both corporate and public sector organizations.
Learnlight has extensive experience in taking part in open competitions for language, culture and soft skills training. Below we will share some tips on how to best tackle this growing area of formal tendering.
Areas to consider while preparing an RFP document for language and skills training services
How does your tender fit into the company strategy and training policy?
Here are some critical steps to consider before you launch your tender:
- Consult with senior management to ensure procured training fits in with main business objectives and company strategy
- Check how the required training fits into the existing company competency framework or internal training policy
- Engage with heads of business units and potential participants to obtain a clear picture of their requirements
- Establish if specific business needs drive tendered training or if it is requested for other reasons such as personal development. It may be that different types of training should be procured under various categories or lots.
- Specify what skills are needed for what roles and to what level
- Decide what should be the best delivery method – face to face, blended etc. See section on common terminology below
- Determine how the acquisition of new skills will be measured or tested.
Are you speaking the same language as the bidders? Importance of understanding common terminology
The imprecise terminology can severely impact bidders providing information based on their interpretation of tender documents.
Most confusion nowadays occurs around commonly used terms such as e-learning, online courses, live courses, face-to-face, blended, synchronous, asynchronous or hybrid training. It is crucial that procured services are well-defined in the main tender specification and that any chosen terminology is consistently in use in corresponding pricing documentation.
Will your RFP tender document result in receiving a crystal-clear response?
The logical layout of RFP response documents allows bidders to present their offer in the most effective way for fair and effective comparison. The most logical and natural order of a typical RFP response will include:
- Supplier company presentation and primary contacts
- Outline of the ‘challenges’ which the tender is supposed to meet. This would ensure that the bid is focused on appropriate solutions, as outlined in the documentation, and will precisely address these issues.
- Technical response with proposed services, chosen methodology, delivery options and trainer profiles
- Administrative response with information on how to implement the services, accessed, supported, monitored and analyzed. This section should also include a description of how supplier performance indicators will be measured and reported.
- Operational section with details regarding training accommodation, technical specifications of training platforms and their integrations, data security information, required quality plans and certification
- A financial section, matching the procured training categories and relevant scenarios such; as e-learning licences, travel and accommodation allowances, external testing costs, etc.
- Compliance part with any legal and contractual documentation
What are will the indicators of your successful training programme be?
Your tender documentation should specify the criteria for measuring training success. Some of the best performance indicators for business-driven training typically include increased skill proficiency levels and a positive impact on performance at work. However, these may involve assessment by third parties, such as external examination body or in-company line managers. Still, your tender should include such performance indicators that suppliers can provide directly by suppliers, for example, trainee satisfaction ratings, rate of attendance and level engagement etc.
How will you engage with the supplier during the tendering process?
Even the most detailed and professionally prepared RFP document will not replace active engagement with the suppliers. Organizing a meeting with potential suppliers before launching your tender might reveal new approaches to the required service or clear up any ambiguities in understanding the tender scope. Similarly, presentations could be a valuable part of the tender process, bringing detailed documentation to life pages. Maintaining an active dialogue with suppliers during procurement time will result in a more efficient process and more meaningful RFP responses, thus saving time and money.