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Requests for Proposals (RFP), the Drinking Game

by on March 8, 2011
Last updated on

Requests for Proposal can be excruciating for both the issuer as well as the proposal respondent. We've seen it all from both sides of the equation... and decided to bring a bit of humor to the situation. Please drink responsibly!

Drink if/when*

If this is your first time responding to a RFP

The RFP asks for liability insurance coverage exceeding 10x the amount of your project proposal

The RFP requests 5 or more years of financial statements
x2 if the RFP states that they'll be running a background check on your company and all of its employees

The RFP contains a legalese to project content ratio of greater than 5:1
x2 if the project content is only 1 page
x3 if the ratio is greater than 10:1

The RFP does not contain budget information
x2 if it contains budget information that is a small fraction of what you'd be pitching
x3 if it states that they don't have any money (at the moment), but need your proposal to raise capital
finish your drink if part or all of your project is expected to be done for free, for trade/barter, or for part equity

The RFP contains information that is clearly from a different project (architecture information in a web development project, etc.)
x2 was clearly copy/pasted from some other organization's RFP and includes their name

The RFP repeats the same question multiple times
x2 if it repeats the same question but with very slight variations
x3 if you respond by copy/pasting the same answer for each question

The RFP gives 2 weeks or less, from release of the RFP to due date

The RFP provides you with answers to your questions less than one week before the proposal is due
x2 if the RFP does not allow any communication with the issuer at all

The RFP is a poor scan image of a text document preventing you from copying information from it.

The RFP asks you to send a digital copy of your proposal by email, a copy on disc, AND multiple printed copies
x2 if it specifies how your proposal needs to be bound
x3 if the number of copies is 5 or more
finish your drink if the entire packet needs to be hand-delivered by someone in your company
finish a second drink if someone in your company requires you to hand-deliver the package.
finish a third drink if someone in your company requires you to hand-deliver the package during a major storm.

The RFP asks you for bios of your entire company
x2 if it also states that your proposal can't be longer than a specified number of pages making it impossible to provide all of the bios
x3 if it asks for "all persons having a financial interest in the company, including shareholders, members, general or limited partner" and you're a publicly traded company

The RFP requires spec work
x2 if it also requires that you present your spec work in person
x3 if it requires your entire project team to be present at the presentation of the spec work

The RFP has conflicting information
x2 specifies two different due dates within the document

You begin working on the proposal only to realize after you've spent a number of hours that there is a requirement that precludes you from being able to bid on the project

You rush to have the proposal out the door only to be notified that the due date has been extended
x2 if the due date was revised and proposals are now no longer being accepted

The RFP states that the project is a "life changing idea" or a "huge opportunity that can change the world"
x2 if it then states something such as "it's sort of like [Facebook, Craig's List, LinkedIn, etc.]"
x3 if "it's sort of like a mashup of [two or more existing products/ideas/services]"

The RFP includes math that is supposed to add up to 100% but doesn't.

The RFP includes lorem ipsum text, or placeholder text that was supposed to be removed.
x2 if it includes internal-only comments that were supposed to be removed
x3 if those internal-only comments are incriminating in some way

The RFP payment terms exceed 30 days.
x2 if the payment terms exceed 60 days
finish your drink if they state that they'll pay you only if they like the finished product and it exceeds their expectations

The RFP is due the day before a holiday
x2 if it is due the day after a holiday
x3 if the RFP is due on a day that the RFP says that their office will be closed

You learn about the RFP the day before proposals are due
x2 if you end up pulling an all-nighter to finish the proposal
x3 your boss tells you "winning this RFP is a must!"

* Please drink responsibly. If you find yourself intoxicated after the above drinking game, please 1) call a cab and 2) consider not bidding on that RFP.

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  1. That was fantastic!! Now you need to do one for subconsultants. Include things like 2x for unreasonable deadlines for information, 3x for bugged for information more than twice in one day, etc.

  2. The RFP requires disclosure of trade secrets
    x2 if the customer is a public agency or will not sign a NDA
    x3 if they use a consultant
    finish if there is no consultant named in the RFP but you find their name in the document properties

  3. I believe I have sample RFPs for each of these and could add more game parameters :)

    5x if the RFP is subject to Treasury Board approval!! (ie a business case+cost/benefit analysis has to be written and submitted to finance ministry to approve funding as this project is a non-budgeted expense)

  4. If I ever really followed all of these commands, I'd die of alcohol poisoning.

  5. You need one more:

    Drink a whole bottle of Mezcal -- including the worm -- if the RFP requires electronic submission of the proposal, but the RFP is distributed only hard copy (no electronic RFP).

  6. Mezcal's a bit rough for that one!

    One of my new personal favorites is when a RFP asks for multiple copies of the proposal in electronic form to one email address. How does that work? Do you attach the file multiple times to the email, or do you resend the email multiple times? I just don't get it.

  7. Welcome to the world of proposals! There is one positive, if you can handle all the negatives, you will always have a job--you will always be in demand.

  8. C. Tina BradshawMay 9, 2018 at 4:04 PM

    This was a great read and hit so close to home. Another good one to add that has happened to me a number of times:

    The RFP outlines a contact person to send questions to. When you send a question, you get an automated response stating that person is out of the office until AFTER the RFP closes.
    X2 if they don’t outline an alternate contact
    x3 if they list an alternate contact, but that person is also out of the office until after the RFP closes.
    finish if the alternate contact doesn't have a clue about the RFP and cannot address your question(s).