Do you have a big e-learning project where you’ll need to find skilled consultants or freelancers? If you do, you might consider creating an RFP (Request For Proposal). Having a clear and detailed RFP will go a long way toward ensuring that e-learning vendors vying for work on the project provide you with the information you need to make the right decision.

What Is an E-Learning RFP?

An RFP is a document that outlines the requirements of a specific job or service. It’s used to solicit proposals from various vendors who want to provide that job or service. In the e-learning world, an RFP typically outlines the rough scope of an e-learning project, the budget, and the timeline for launching or implementing the materials.

Why Create an E-Learning RFP? 

You don’t necessarily need to create an RFP for every e-learning project. However, you may want to consider it if the project is very valuable or costly, or when the selection process is very competitive. It takes a certain amount of time and effort for candidates to respond to an RFP, so the project needs to be worthwhile enough for them to put in that work up front. An awesome RFP will clearly identify crucial project details that will help service providers provide you with more accurate proposals. Furthermore, a well-written, thorough RFP may attract more vendors, giving you more proposals to consider. In certain industries and work settings, such as government agencies, RFPs may be required by law.

What to Include in an E-Learning RFP?

It’s important to include the right information in your RFP to ensure proposals contain the information you want and need to decide on an e-learning vendor. Here are a few key items to consider including in your next proposal:

Statement of Needs

    • Roles to Fill: You’ll want to be clear about who the specific people are that you need for this e-learning project. These are some of the roles typically involved in e-learning projects:
      • Instructional Designer
      • E-Learning Developer
      • Graphic Designer
      • Voiceover Artist or Narrator
      • Translator
      • Web Developer
      • Quality Assurance Tester
    • Project Overview: Provide a high-level overview of this e-learning project and what it entails. A few things to consider include.
      • What is the size of the course?
      • How long is it expected to be?
      • What level of e-learning is the content? (Read more: Get to Know the 3 Levels of E-Learning)
      • How many languages will the course be delivered in? (Read more: Planning Your Localized E-Learning Projects)
      • Will there be instructional design work, or only content development?
      • What do you envision in terms of review cycles and testing phases? (Read more: 3 Ways to Apply Principles of Agile to Your E-Learning Projects)
      • Project Goals: It’s important to outline your specific business goals and how you plan to reach them. You should also consider any key performance indicators (KPIs), data, or metrics you can use to help measure success (Read more: Use KPIs to Make the Business Case for E-Learning)
      • Target Audience: This probably won't be a detailed audience analysis at this phase, but would be helpful to provide some general information about the learners and their level of technological proficiency.
      • Available Content and Materials: It’s important to let the vendors know what existing materials are already in place, or if content will have to be researched and gathered.
      • Maintenance and Updates: Take time to consider your needs post-implementation. If any problems or mistakes are found post-launch, who will edit the content? Or when content changes down the line in a year, who will do the maintenance? Who will retain access to the source development files? It’s important to make this clear in your RFP.

Company Background

This is where you tell the vendors a bit about your company: who you are, what you do, and how long you’ve been in business. This is also a good chance to sell yourself and convince vendors to work with you.

Scope of Work and Deliverables

You’ll want to develop a clear outline of the deliverables for this e-learning project. Some of the typical deliverables in an e-learning project include:

  • Project Plan 
  • Storyboard 
  • Test Module
  • Final Module

Depending on your development cycle and how many review checkpoints you incorporate, the volume of deliverables may change.

Technical Requirements

When you’re hiring a vendor to create e-learning courses for you, there are going to be certain technical requirements in place. A few things you will want to consider include:

  • Authoring Tool: Which tool do you prefer to use? You want the applicants to be skilled and experienced in the tool you are using.
  • Audio or Video Editing: Will there be audio or video in your e-learning? If yes, you need someone who can work with audio and video files and has the appropriate software to do so.
  • Graphic Editing: Do you need some graphic design work done for your course? How about graphics created or edited? If so, your vendor will need to have graphic editing tools.

Timelines and Budget

It’s important to include a due date, or a go-live date, in your proposal. You may need the course to be implemented at the same time as a new system is launched, or before a new product hits the shelves.  

In terms of budget, you need to put a number out there—even if it’s an educated guess or simply a broad range. You don’t want to waste your time (or a vendor’s time) with proposals that are outside of your price point.

Contract Terms and Payment Details

Be sure to include all other terms and conditions you want covered. This may include things like who will hire and pay subcontractors, any details about termination of the contract, and information about payments and the intervals for them.

Proposal Submission and Timeline

You should provide the vendor with information about how you want the proposal to be formatted, what it should cover, how they can submit their portfolio and work examples, as well as any important details of submission. Don’t forget to include a due date for proposals. You can also mention the schedule for applicant selection and interviewing.

Points of Contact

Always include a point of contact in your RFP. This may be the person leading the project, or someone else altogether. Regardless, the people submitting proposals should always have a specific person to contact.

Finding a qualified vendor for your next big e-learning project doesn’t have to seem like mission impossible. Writing a detailed RFP can make the process a lot easier for you by allowing the candidates to sell themselves to you. Do you have tips of your own for writing a great RFP? Let me know in the comments!

Follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.