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The RFI and RFP, Term Paper Example

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Term Paper

Introduction

Requests for Information (RFI’s) and Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) are documents that relate to procurement processes within the general project management context.  This paper examines the procedures of both RFI’s and RFP’s within the context of a medical administration organization.  An example of need for a procurement process in this environment is the implementation of an electronic health records system.  Proper application of these processes will ensure the health authority optimizes both time and resources and obtains value of money for the taxpayer. These procedures fall within the important concepts of Project Management. (Shirley, D. 2011)

Request for Information

The purpose of an RFI is to solicit information from vendors relative to products and services.  In essence this is a fact finding mission.  It is often used as a market sounding to establish if there are vendors who are able and willing to provide a product or service, and to evaluate the suitability of that product or service for the requirement.  It can also be used as a means to produce a shortlist of qualified vendors and/or product or service prior to purchasing those products or services using a Request for Quotation or Request for Proposals.

The issuing of an RFI to potential vendors is a useful way of creating communications channels and establishing a start point for a formal selection process.  (Ahima Journal, 2012)

Structure of an RFI

In general terms, an RFI would be structured as follows within a medical context:

  • Notification Number: The unique identifier referencing the RFI.
  • Key Dates: The date of release and the date and time by which a response is required.
  • Issued By: The name (contact name) and address details of the person issuing the RFI.  This is where all communication and queries should be sent and may include a web address with general information.
  • Background: Provides general background to the RFI.  Essential reading that focuses upon goals and objectives.
  • Information Requested: Detail of what is required in the RFI response.  May include quality criteria and benchmarks for submission data.  Should consider the bounds of scope and indicate the detail required in the response.
  • Submission Details: Deadline submission date/time and where the RFI should be submitted, the acceptable means of delivery, number of copies, electronic or paper format, and a website link to additional information such as a data room.
  • Inquiries: Details of where further inquiries or additional information can be obtained.  May include website link to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s). (National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities , 2012)

Request for Proposal

One of the initial steps in planning an RFP process is to form a committee that will represent the key stakeholders.  This should accommodate as broad a spectrum of stakeholders as possible and include medical departments, Finance, Technology, Human Resources, Purchasing, Legal Counsel and end users.

The RFP should include a description of the organizational requirements and priorities.  This prioritization considers both current future state needs.  The RFP should also include the functional requirements of the end product.  It is important that the scope of the project is clearly identified and remains achievable throughout the anticipated lifecycle of the procurement and the project.  The scope section is also important to define the project so that vendors are prevented from adding enhancements or additional features later on as a means of elevating the costs.

RFP Proposal Format

This is often a structured process that takes one of two format types; a short answer and response format as a checklist; or a narrative response.  Sometimes these approaches are combined as a double-check, as follows:

Checklist:

  1. Usual table/column format;
  2. Simple response format, i.e. yes/no; available/not available;
  3. May have numerical value associations;
  4. May state mandatories and desirable features.

Narrative Response:

  1. Simple paragraph response format;
  2. Provides opportunities for more detailed responses;
  3. Does not facilitate ease of comparative analysis;
  4. Often includes a cover letter, executive summary and other supporting information that will facilitate the decision making process.

Importance of the RFP Process

The need to evaluate and scrutinize a vendor’s response ensures that goods and services being procured are fit for the purpose.  It is also a means of imposing quality checks before formal commitments are made.  Additional considerations are:

  • Conservation of time and effort, reducing costs of administration and processing;
  • Provision of adequate consideration of stakeholder and end user needs;
  • Provision of the foundation of the scope for the products/services required;
  • Promotion of efficiency and safety in the quality of patient care;
  • Ensuring the products/services meet organization standards in terms of quality and performance;
  • Ensures the products/services meet legal and other regulatory requirements;
  • Serves as a means of updating the organization’s database on current vendors, products and service offerings.(Government of Canada, 2012)

Vendor Selection Process

Once a shortlist of qualified vendors has been established from an RFQ process, it is necessary to provide a matrix of criteria for the evaluation team to use to establish a winner.  Key considerations will be:

  1. That all the mandatory criteria are met and that the highest quality in the desirable criteria is demonstrated;
  2. Financial stability and history of the proponent company;
  3. Existing credit status;
  4. Level of support services required;
  5. Supply chain issues;
  6. Certification status;
  7. Price (if evaluated).

Evaluation must be conducted free from bias and any conflict of interest should be disclosed before evaluation commences.  The overarching principles of fair, open procurement with all proponents having access to the same information (i.e. a level playing field) will ensure that the selection of the successful proponent does not give rise to any objection by the unsuccessful proponents.  Offering debriefs is essential in this process and gives the organization an opportunity to give feedback but also receive comments about the procurement documents and process for future improvement.  The procurement of goods/services for a medical organization, which is often funded by taxpayer dollars, is always subject to greater public scrutiny than procurement in a private organization.

Source Selection Criteria

The concept of source selection criteria is frequently covered within the procurement process.  These are often used to provide metrics that rate or score the clients proposals. Such criteria may be based on subjective or objective criteria. Essentially this will cover such items as:

  • The understand of the need by the proposal to the procurement statement of work;
  • How the seller will demonstrate the total cost of ownership;
  • The technical capability – how the seller can demonstrate acquisition of the skills and knowledge that is required;
  • How the risks will be mitigated in the statement of work
  • The management approach and style that will be adopted to govern the work;
  • The proposed technical approach in terms of methods, techniques and solutions that will bring the desired results.

Case Study – Maine’s Medicaid System

This project involved the transition from a legacy system to that of a new web based system that would process Medicaid claims. The piecemeal approach to both procurement and strategic planning caused the project to fail. This subsequently resulted in lack of compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; thus Main is now the only State in the Union that has noncompliance with the Act. Further it created systems failures resulting in nearly 300,000 patients being denied medical treatment and ended up in diminishing Maine’s Credit Rating.

There was a whole catalogue of mistakes identified from the post mortem of the system implementation.  These included such items as : building a complete system from scratch without having proper technology or planning in place, lack of over-arching strategic planning guiding the management process, failure to meet deadlines, unrealistic procurement processes, hiring contractors with no experience in the business, lack of project management, inability to integrate merger considerations ( another strategic planning issue), lack of risk management and no disaster recovery procedures or back up plans in the event that a crisis happened.

The blame must really reside with the CEO and Senior Management team in allowing such a major and significant project to proceed without the overall adequate strategic planning in place. It creates the analogy of a ship without a rudder.  Planning is fundamental to the success of any project.  You need the required controls in place and the mechanisms for achieving the goals and objectives on time, within budget and within the scope that has been identified. (Mannas, J. 2012).

Conclusion

The RFI and RFQ form an important part of the Project Management systems lifecycle with regard to providing governance and quality checks over the standard procurement process. These procedures are vital in order to maintain the integrity over the purchase of products or services within an organization.

References

Ahima Journal. (2012, 10 8). The RFP Process for EHR systems. Retrieved from Ahima Journal: http://library.ahima.org/xpedio/groups/public/documents/ahima/bok1_047961.hcsp?dDocName=bok1_047961

Government of Canada. (2012, 10 8). Writing Effective Requests for Proposals – A Guide for Northern Ontario’s Tourism Industry. Retrieved from Government of Canada: http://fednor.gc.ca/eic/site/fednor-fednor.nsf/eng/fn03273.html

Mannas, J. (2012, 7 12). Project Failure Case Study : Maine’s Medicaid System. Retrieved from PM Think: http://www.pmthink.com/2006/04/project-failure-case-study-maines.htm.

National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities . (2012, 10 8). Request for Information (RFI): Medical Technologies for Reducing Disparities in Healthcare Access and Health Outcomes . Retrieved from National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities : http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-EB-07-009.html

Shirley, D. (2011). Project Management for Healthcare. Boca Raton Fl: Taylor and Francis.

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