Solution-based RFPs ask suppliers to propose an IT business solution to an agency's identified problems and requirements. Solution-based RFPs briefly state the business need, describe the technology problem to be solved, and/or provide minimal specification requirements. The use of solution-based RFPs allows suppliers who are technology subject matter experts to use their broad-spectrum market knowledge, creativity and resources to propose innovative cost-effective technology solutions. Solution-based RFPs may request suppliers to provide a solution for only part of a business problem or to propose high-level concept-type solutions which are evaluated based on a supplier-provided detailed set of requirements.
By their nature, specifications and requirements set limits and thereby eliminate or restrict the items or solutions available for the supplier to include in its proposal. Technology specifications should be written to encourage, not discourage, competition consistent with seeking overall economy for the purpose and technology solution intended. An agency is then able to identify the technology solution, not a particular product or service, which will best meet its technology or business need. Part of the decision-making process of when to use a Solution-based procurement involves performing a risk analysis whereby the project team resolves the following questions:
When preparing a solution-based SOW, some components will be different than a non-solution-based SOW. A solution-based SOW should include:
Use technology questions to drive specifications instead of including mandatory requirements in the solicitation. The goal is to invite maximum reasonable competition while procuring the best technology solution for the Commonwealth. Pose questions to suppliers in the solicitation to drive requirements, such as: "What is the industry standard for this product and does your product(s) meet or exceed such standard?" The proposed definitive responses, as negotiated, will then become part of the final SOW in the contract.