Sam Brown

Andy Rutledge on The Trouble With RFPs

Andy writes a great piece on some of the problems we face with RFPs, while it is more aimed at those requesting them there is a lot to learn here, particularly the difference between design as a service and design as a commodity.

An RFP typically circumvents relevant communication.
The first step in any client/agency inquiry should be concerned with getting to know one another in order to gauge mutual suitability. Yes, mutual suitability. Sure, I need to know what your project is about and what you’re generally expecting, but I also need to get to know you and discover if you meet my criteria.

What Andy says above in The Trouble With RFPs really rings true for me, and as I’ve said in the past I simply don’t do proposals – I don’t want to spend a day writing about making you a kick ass site when I could be doing it!

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Sam Wieck 31 August 2009, 08:27 #1

Another well articulated Rutledge rant. I’ve never had a formal RFP to deal with; it’s all University projects and friends & family work at the moment.

Have you always been anti-proposal or was it a decision that came from experience?

Sam Brown 31 August 2009, 11:46 #2

I have always been anti-proposal, and in my experience it has never harmed me.

As a freelancer working on my own I can’t afford to waste time pitching for jobs or being put on shortlists for potential projects. Just like I don’t create multiple design options for clients, working for yourself you truly have to maximise your productivity.

Ross Chapman 31 August 2009, 12:10 #3

Good topic! I have been doing proposals, only because I thought they were the norm, but I’ve be evaluating my methods recently, and yes, there’s a lot of wasted time, and very limited collaboration in a one-sided proposal.

Sam – how do you go about instructing potential new clients that this isn’t something you do? Do you just show them past work/processes?

Sam Brown 31 August 2009, 21:13 #4

If a new potential client requests a proposal I simply explain my situation, while agencies may have the staff, time and excess budget to spend time writing up proposals, I simply do not – this usually means I don’t get this job which to be honest is fine with me, no time wasted.

The majority of my clients are referred from past clients or colleagues, this means there is a certain level of trust before any discussions have even taken place, and from this stage it’s all about talking with them, realising their goals and what they want to achieve and seeing if it matches my working methods – if so I pursue it further and this does usually involve outlining my processes but that can quite easily be explained in a single email or within my contract.

My past work can be seen in my portfolio, if they like what they see great, if not, no love lost.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.