April 28, 2017

Costly Mistakes in RFP Creation Process and How To Do It Right + Municipal Website RFP Template

You are probably aware of the importance of having a website for your municipality. Sure, that is a great start. But it is only a start. There is a lot of work that goes into the RFP creation process and defining the focus can prove to be difficult.

You are probably aware of the importance of having a website for your municipality. Sure, that is a great start. But it is only a start. There is a lot of work that goes into the RFP creation process and defining the focus can prove to be difficult. Perhaps it has even crossed your mind to use a municipal website RFP template from a larger municipality, thinking their website looks great and all you need to do is change some bits of information here and there. Although ‘easier’ may sound tempting, it can be quite costly in the long run. Most of the municipalities we have worked with have found themselves in a similar situation. In this article, you will learn how to create a good RFP for your website with functionalities that your municipality actually needs. As a result, you will be able to save your municipality tens of thousands of dollars in the process by not including items that aren’t actually essential for you or your residents. You will learn:

Mistake #1:  Asking for requirements your municipality does not need

Ensure your RFP speaks for the needs of your municipality alone, otherwise, results are more than likely to be unpleasant. Let us assume that your municipality has a population of 10,000 residents. If you were to take an RFP template from a larger city or base the template on a quote from the largest web development company, this will likely result in:

You should embrace difference. It is what makes us unique and sets us apart from the rest of the crowd. It is what defines us. The same applies to municipal websites. Your goal should not be to imitate but to be specific to your municipality’s needs and expectations.

Ensure your RFP speaks for the needs of your municipality alone, otherwise results are more than likely to be unpleasant.

Chew on this, does Atlanta with a population exceeding 400,000 residents and containing various departments need the same website, with the same features as the Acworth municipality, populated by only 15,000 residents? Most probably, no it does not.

Our experience with past clients has shown us that lack of knowledge and time are factors that often prompt small municipalities to copy larger municipal websites. They do not even stop to consider whether they actually need such complex and advanced features.

Don’t Overpay For Functionalities You Don’t Need the result of such an approach is an embellished municipal website that is not tailored to the municipality’s specific needs. Consequently, the municipality ends up paying up to five times more than it would for a customized website. Save thousands of taxpayer dollars by paying only for website features specific to your municipal needs.

Mistake #2: Treating the price as the key value indicator

Do you need a functional website or a fancy website? Toyota or Lexus Analogy

Is driving a Lexus essential to completing everyday tasks, such as shopping and driving your kids to school? You could do it, but these tasks can also be completed driving a more economical car, such as a Toyota. Both cars get the same job done, but at different prices. One offers extravagance, the other functionality and simplicity. Nevertheless, the result is the same, but the cost differs.  

Image Source: koonslexusofwilmington.comOn the other hand, if you are a CEO of a large company who is going on a business meeting with foreign investors, you'd need a prestigious car, so a bit of extravagance is justified. Consequently, the most rational and viable option for small municipalities would be simplicity or in the case of the car analogy – a Toyota. This will save your municipality a lot of money and ensure that your website is customized to meet all your needs without having to pay for superfluous features.

When Do You Need a Lexus? If you're a big municipality that needs more complex features to cater for a unique community, then choosing a special design tailored to these specifications does justify the higher cost. For standard needs (small municipalities), Toyota will get the job done efficiently and for a fraction of what Lexus would cost.

Is the most expensive option really the best option? What does the price actually include?

The cost of website development can vary significantly, beginning anywhere from two thousand dollars to as high as twenty-five thousand dollars. The mindset that we often come across is - I want to make sure the website works correctly so I am willing to pay (much) more to achieve it.It’s not a wrong approach- quality and safety are crucial, it definitely makes sense to hire the best in the industry.

However, It’s often not true that the best value can only be delivered when you choose the most expensive option.

Many web design companies that charge more than industry standard don’t often provide the best value. It’s because:

Mistake #3: Taking an RFP from a larger municipality

From our perspective, RFPs with requirements that are too rigid and not adapted to the needs of a specific municipality often puts us in an uncomfortable position. We see municipal website RFPs which clearly contain lots of features that a given municipality does not need. We are not convinced - should we send the quote and just set the price for all those features? Should we try to “educate” the clerk and explain that the RFP should be rewritten, thus risk losing a potential client? It is a difficult situation for us and the municipality. How to do it right and save your municipality thousands of dollars?

1. Identify the Needs of Your Municipality to include them in your municipal website RFP

In order to avoid overpaying and overspending taxpayers’ money for your website, it is important to identify the needs of your municipality. Here are some key questions to help you identify your needs:

Answering the above questions will give you an idea that, in most cases, you need simplicity. You need a website that works according to your needs, that makes it possible for you to easily publish content without IT knowledge and offers support to resolve any problems immediately.[content_upgrade cu_id="2951"]Download free, editable RFP template. Simply fill in the details regarding your municipality![content_upgrade_button]Download Free RFP Template[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

2. Keep requirements simple and flexible.

Do not set rigid requirements. Go over the essentials:

Allow web developers to prepare a quote that matches your needs. The more requirements you list, the more limited we are when preparing a quote for you.Your RFP should be as simple as possible and it should contain:

3. Choose website features: must-have vs nice-to-have

There are two types of features that you should be aware of when making your RFP – must-have features and nice-to-have features. Must-have features are things that you should ask for in your RFP proposal. Nice-to-have features are things that can be a good addition but are not an absolute necessity. Keep in mind though, that a list of must have features scales up with the size of your municipality. The more departments and residents you have, the more it will benefit from various upgrades.

Must-have features

Nice-to have-features

Small municipality (up to 10,000 residents)

Medium municipality (10,000-50,000 residents)

Large municipalities (more than 50,000 residents)

[content_upgrade cu_id="2951"]Here you can download free, editable RFP template for your municipal website! [content_upgrade_button]Download Free RFP Template[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

We often see small municipalities ask for features that they will likely never use, or which are not needed for their small town. Some examples include having RSS Feed, the requirement their site be hosted on a dedicated server, and integration with external databases.Without going into too many technical details, the cost of additional features is high and there simply is no rational explanation for implementing them for small cities.

4. Remember about elements that are particularly important for a municipality

What you should be asking for, however, are things connected with support and training. Remember, most of the time you do not need a fancy website. Instead, you need support that will handhold you in case anything goes wrong. It is important to have support available all the time. This need for constant support is why hiring a freelancer can be risky. Freelancers cannot guarantee this constant support and security because of their indefiniteness in terms of working hours, sickness leave and holiday leave. Here are some factors you should consider about support and training:

We hope that the above table will prove to be useful when dealing with the RFP creation process and quotes evaluation.

5. Making the final decision

The best thing you can do in regard to pricing is following these five simple steps:

[content_upgrade cu_id="2951"]Download free, editable RFP template. Simply fill in the details regarding your municipality![content_upgrade_button]RFP Template[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

6. TownWeb - What is our price range and what do you get?

At TownWeb, we cater exclusively for municipalities and our prices are based primarily on the size of the municipality. We also have different options that affect the design based whether or not you wish to have a design based on a pre-built theme or wish to have something 100% unique and custom. This way you can be sure you’re getting the most value for your dollar, and not paying for something that is unnecessary. No matter what kind of website you choose, you get free and unlimited support and training. Click here to get a free quote!

Summary of Dos and Don’ts



Town Web services are approved for use with ARPA funds!