Two frequently used methods to solicit and select firms to provide professional services are the Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Statement of Qualifications (RFQ) processes. Both of these processes differ from the bidding process, where the selection of a firm is primarily based on price.
The RFP and RFQ processes are widely used for selecting firms in the architectural and engineering services industries, where the required planning and design services must be provided under the direction of a registered or licensed architect or engineer.
RFQ solicitations focus on the qualifications of the potential providers. Primary qualifications include experience of key staff, relevant past experience of the company and client references. The RFP process requires a technical and management approach and often, a fee proposal.
In a two-part solicitation process, an RFQ is solicited, followed by an RFP that is solicited only to a smaller number of qualified firms--reducing the demands on both the reviewing agency and the professional services community in the selection process.
A key disadvantage to the two-part solicitation process is the time required to complete the advertisement, preparation and review of the two submittals.
Cost in Selection
Cost, if used in the RFQ process, is usually limited to the submittal of standard rate schedules. Except for qualifications-based processes, detailed cost proposals can be required in the RFP process, where the potential provider describes a project approach that helps explain and justify the resulting costs.