rfp terms

The ABCs of RFPs: RFP and Proposal Glossary

If you are new to the world of proposals and questionnaires, it is easy to get lost in a maze of acronyms and industry jargon. So, we created this resource to serve as the foundation to further your knowledge in the RFP industry.

Here you will find 25 key terms that you will hear on a daily basis in the response and proposal industry, with guidelines to help you understand and use them:

APMPThe Association of Proposal Management Professionals, is an internationally accepted authority that serves and educates professionals, particularly in the proposal and procurement industry.

Bid – The portion of a proposal that outlines the offer or price of the desired goods or services. Though bid and proposal are often used interchangeably, a bid focuses more on the financial aspects of a project.

Buyer – Oversees the demand for goods and services at a company, researches potential suppliers, and issues an RFP to evaluate their options.

Content Library – Also referred to as a knowledge library, it is the central location for proposal content to be stored, categorized, and retrieved.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: Having software that allows content to be easily searched and accessed, can become a huge time saver when responding to RFPs!  

Watch this video to see how having the right software capabilities can make organizing your content library a breeze.

Content Management – The practice of regularly updating, organizing, and managing proposal content within a content library.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: You can automate this process with proposal software capabilities such as setting custom attributes, creating workflows, and assigning expiration dates to content!

For more insight on simplifying tasks associated with content management, read our guide Leveraging a Response & Content Management Tool Across Teams.

DDQ – A Due Diligence Questionnaire is a formal recurring assessment made up of questions that outline how your business will operate and comply with industry standards. DDQs can quickly help create transparency and confidence within any new business relationship.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: Read our guide on How to Automate Recurring Questionnaires and learn how to reduce your response time!

Executive summary – At times referred to as the management summary, it is a short section of a document that provides senior-level decision makers with a quick overview of important information regarding a business plan.

For example, when drafting an RFP response, an executive summary is a one-page, high-level overview that directly addresses the prospect’s problems, their desired outcome, and how your organization can provide the best solution.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: To learn best practices for crafting an executive summary, read our guide How to Write an Executive Summary that Stands Out.

Issuer – A business or person that creates and sends an RFP to vendors, with the intention to buy a product or service, or go in business with a new contractor.

Proposal – A formal document that outlines an offer from a seller to prospective sponsors, submitted in response to a request from an organization, looking for a solution to a problem.

Proposal manager – As the head of the proposal team, this person is responsible for guiding the team through proposal-related processes.

Their daily task consists of scheduling, coordinating with subject matter experts, reviewing, and submitting proposals, as well as proposal responses.

As they rely heavily on the RFP process, it is important to learn How to Collect Feedback from Your Team about Your RFP Process, to find areas of improvement and ensure every member of their team feels seen and heard.

Proposal Management Software – A platform that enables a seller to create, organize, and share proposals, as well as manage incoming RFPs.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: Building custom, branded collateral such as proposals and questionnaires can become a time-consuming project. Using a platform, like RapidDocs, will allow you to generate these documents in minutes!

RFI – A Request for Information, is a document used to gather general information from suppliers for the purpose of discovering a potential solution. Often times, this document is issued before a formal procurement process begins.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: Read our guide on How to Respond to an RFI and make a good first impression on the buyer!

RFP – A Request for Proposal, is a document that requests a proposal from selected vendors during a bidding process. If you are based in Europe, you may hear an RFP referred to as an RFT, or request for tender, which holds the same meaning.

RFP Automation – The process of performing elements of an RFP process automatically, leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing technology.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: To learn the importance of Why You Need RFP Automation Software feel free to view our guide!

RFP Cover letter – The initial one-page document that introduces your proposal to the buyer, outlining why you are bidding, and how your solution best solves the problem the issuer is facing.

RFP Evaluation Criteria – A list of mandatory business needs and expectations that a buyer sets to score proposals from prospective vendors. Ideally, RFP evaluation criteria are provided to vendors and proposal evaluators to remove subjectivity from the procurement process.

RFP Process – As an issuer, it is a series of actions and steps designed to help businesses evaluate and select the right vendor or supplier to solve their current problem. It is also referred to as the procurement process.

On the receiving end of the spectrum, for a vendor, supplier, or prospect, it is the steps taken to craft, send, and manage proposal and questionnaire responses, along with other requested documents.

Our guide, How to Improve Your RFP Process outlines ways you can lessen the load and quicken your response time.

RFP/Response Management Software – Often cloud-based, these solutions help companies organize content and respond to incoming RFPs, automating many aspects of the RFP process.

RFP software allows businesses to efficiently and accurately respond to RFPs and other questionnaires, by providing features such as:

    • A centralized content library, with the ability to organize and tag content
    • Content and project management tools, including expiration dates and approval workflows
    • AI-driven autofill, which automatically populates responses
    • Integrations with Microsoft, Salesforce, and other business software

RFP Team – A group of professionals responsible for winning new business through the procurement process. The team usually consists of a department head, an RFP manager, analysts, and associates.

Not only do they win new business, but manage recurring questionnaires, and oversee a content library with accurate, up-to-date information about their company.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: Read our guide to learn the Roles and Responsibilities for a Winning RFP Team!

RFQ – A Request for Quote or Quotation, is a document that details a buyer’s needs and solicits the price of goods or services provided by a vendor.

ROI – A Return on Investment, is a performance measure used to evaluate the profitability of an investment. Mathematically, it is a financial ratio used to calculate the benefit an investor will receive in relation to their investment cost.

Security Questionnaire – As part of the procurement process, it is a set of complex and technical questions, designed to evaluate a company’s security controls, security policies, and compliance posture.

SME – A Subject Matter Expert, is a professional who has advanced knowledge in a specific field or topic. This knowledge can include a deep understanding of a particular job, process, department, function, or technology.

For example, if a proposal team member or manager is in the process of responding to an RFP, and they come across a question whose answer cannot be found in the content library, they will reach out to an SME to collect the necessary information/knowledge to answer the question.

⭐️ Star-worthy advice: As you can imagine, having a great relationship with SMEs can be beneficial to a company in various ways, this guide will teach you 5 Keys to Optimizing SME Process for Winning RFPs!   

Tender – The process that allows governments and financial institutions to accept formal offers from potential suppliers or solicit bids for large projects. Used commonly in Europe, it holds that same meaning as a proposal in North America.

Vendor – Also known as a seller, responder, supplier, or bidder. It is the person, company, or party responding to the RFP, with the goal of winning the business and providing the solution.

As You Can See, We Got You Covered!

Here at RocketDocs, we want our clients to have a full understanding of not only our product, but the industry in which we operate. We are here to serve you, which is why we take pride in all our customer service efforts.

If you want to experience this white glove service with proposal software backed by 25+ years of innovation, schedule a free demo today!