Members of The Council of Public Relations Firms asked for a way to help prospects generate formal requests for services. The Council asked us to help them build the solution.

RFP Builder automatically generates a rough process timeline. Click to view walk through video.

RFP Builder intelligently adds new steps to the process based on need. Click to view walk through video.

Compose individuals pieces of your request for proposal right inside RFP Builder. Click to view walk through video.

Mission: The Council of Public Relations Firms advances the business of public relations firms by building the market and firms’ value as strategic business partners.

Goal: Build an user friendly tool that walks prospective PR firm clients through a professional, well-considered request for proposal process that maximizes the odds of client and firm success.

Services: Strategy, Information Architecture, Creative Design, Custom Application Development, eCommerce, eLearning

Project Summary

The Council of Public Relations Firms saw a market for a tool that could simplify the process of generating requests for public relations services, while simultaneously improving the quality and clarity of these requests. The Council had the subject matter expertise, and they turned to us to help them automate the process and put in on the web.

During the initial cost assessment, it became clear that the early notion of shoehorning a solution into their existing CMS would not serve their market or long term vision effectively. The project was re-framed as a custom web application development initiative that would involve four of our core competencies: strategy, design, custom development, and quality assurance.  We collaboratively established a pragmatic approach that included a clear 1.0 milestone that balanced price and time against the ideal feature set.

Our web strategy and storyboard design services helped the Council clarify their vision of the overall end user experience and extend their vision of the application’s potential. Rather than embedding the solution inside their website, the web application would have a dedicated user interface, optimized for the task hand, that would still reflect their brand. Content protection features like auto-saving and exit warnings would prevent end user frustrations. Rather than requiring payment upfront, the application would be free to use; registrants would only pay if they elected to download the final Request for Proposal (RFP), or (in a future update) use the electronic submission feature.  Online payment would be seamlessly integrated, with instant authentication against the Council’s PayPal account.

By the time we began the programming and development phase, we had internally codenamed the project “TurboRFP”. It was a reference to the bar set by TurboTax for taking a dreaded process that can involve costly one-on-one consulting to get right, and turning it into a low cost, relatively simple process to get right.

Throughout the development process we leveraged open solutions to maximize value for the Council. The FCKeditor project became the foundation of the integrated word processor that allows end users to author sections of their RFP within RFP Builder. The allowed us to fully integrate eCommerce (we actually had to update PayPal’s provided resources for the latest version of .NET; we’ve shared these updates with the community). We leveraged Microsoft Word’s support for basic open HTML standards to generate a pre-formatted and broadly compatible output that opens right inside their local word processor.

Once development of the beta was complete, we worked closely with the Council to review, test, and refine the integrated product. The Council’s commitment of resources to addressing user feedback and refining version 1 before its launch is evident in the release’s polish. Finally, to assist with early marketing efforts, we produced a short, narrated video walk through.

If you’re seeking professional Public Relations support, or even if you’re just interested in learning about the process of selecting a PR firm, you absolutely have to check out RFP Builder.

Technologies Used: C#, .NET 2.0, PayPal API, Microsoft SQL Server 2005, AJAX, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Adobe Captivate