Open Forum

 View Only
  • 1.  Master Planning RFP

    Posted 02-04-2021 09:02 AM
    We'll be going through the process of reassessing our living history and educational programming and physical infrastructure at Jamestown over the next year. Need to put together a Request For Proposals to solicit bids from planning firms. Does anyone have a template out there that we can use as a point of departure or advice on what to include as we go about gearing up?

    Mark Howell, Director of Education

    Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation | P.O. Box 1607 | Williamsburg, VA 23187

    757.253.4940  | | Follow us on Facebook

                       crossed rigging.jpg


  • 2.  RE: Master Planning RFP

    Posted 02-05-2021 08:56 AM

    I don't have template, but they mostly follow a similar format: Background, Goals, Anticipated scope of work, Timeline, Budget, and Response particulars. I'll email a half a dozen samples chosen mostly at random from our archives.

    Several pieces of advice:

    • Create a short list of firms that you feel are qualified before issuing the RFP.  Ideally, you would like to be reviewing 4 to 6 detailed responses. And the firms would like to know that the time they put into crafting a proposal has a good chance of being successful.  You can make the shortlist either by sending out an RFQ or by researching firms online or through your networks.
    • Rather than asking for price quotes for a detailed scope of work, develop an outline scope with detailed desired outcomes and include a budget (or budget range) for the project. Then ask respondents to detail what they can deliver within that budget. Unlike architectural, construction, or even exhibit projects, planning work can go deep, wide, or both, with dramatically different results and costs. Being clear about how much money you have to invest in the plan will result in proposals that are easier to compare and with more diverse approaches to the project.
    • Set clear page limits on the length of the submittal. I have found that RFP responses as short as 15 pages can result in sufficient information to make a decision about interview candidates. You can always ask finalists for additional information. Page limits are a blessing for both you and the responding firms.

    If you'd like some help putting together the RFP, Barbara Punt at Punt Consulting can practically write RFPs in her sleep.

    Good luck!


    Guy Hermann
    Museum Planner

    Museum Insights helps museums plan for long-term growth and change. 
    Our transformative strategic master plans, pre-design architectural plans, operational feasibility studies, 
    and capital project plans result in sustainable museums that people love and funders support.

  • 3.  RE: Master Planning RFP

    Posted 02-08-2021 07:07 PM
    Guy, thanks for revealing my secret ingredient (zzzzzs!).


    Guy gave you important tips, and he's very experienced in working with museums of all sizes and types to create relevant master plans.  For more about his company and how they work with their clients, see

    To expand upon what Guy's suggesting:
    • If you have a large number of firms receiving the RFP (>6), you may risk having the best firms submit a response.  It takes time to produce a proposal and good firms are often busy, so the risk/reward of putting in a proposal may not be worth the time to them.
    • Revealing your budget for the work is always a good idea for any RFP.  You want quality, and if you set the price you have control over what you'll spend.  I've written dozens of RFPs over the years and not once have I seen what some clients are afraid of - leaving "money on the table."  A good firm will charge a fair price but if you don't tell them what it will cost, it will cost you more in the long run because they'll give a conservative estimate.
    • Definitely limit the number of pages in which they can answer your questions.  Fifteen is a good number.  If you think you want more information, you can view the firms' websites and/or ask for marketing materials later.
    • Leave sufficient time for the firms to prepare a proposal once you release it, a minimum of 3 weeks.  It takes time to be thoughtful in their response, and if you're expecting them to drop everything to cater to your request you may not get the best firms responding (see the 1st bullet point above) and/or you're suggesting by your actions that you might be a candidate for "client from Hell", which isn't a good way to start and might also scare off good firms.  If you have a complicated process that means you know now that you can't release it until X date, give a heads up to the firms which will be receiving it so they can block out some time to prepare the response.
    • Ask those receiving the RFP to let you know if they're interesting in submitting a proposal by registering their "Intent to Bid" with you in writing.  If you find there will not be enough respondents you'll have to widen your net of firms which receive it.
    • Do everything in writing and include a question/response time period within the first week of the schedule after you release the RFP.  If it's all in writing it prevents some participants in the process getting information not available to other participants and your proposals could be based on the apples and oranges they're aware of.  Be clear that all questions and all answers will be provided to all registered respondents (and that questions will be listed anonymously, to encourage people to ask whatever isn't clear to them).  
    • Do not, repeat, do not answer anything by phone and have only a single point of contact for all information.  There is a legal doctrine called "detrimental reliance" which means if one firm relies on the written instructions provided to all, but another firm somehow gets more or different information, if one of those firms which relied on the information provided to everyone doesn't get the project but someone with special information did, the losing firm may have grounds to sue you.  (I was told this by a lawyer some years ago and I'm not aware that anything has changed since then).
    • Be clear about the information you want in your answers and equally clear about how you will rate the information provided.  It's only fair to reveal your scoring system, e.g. "Prior experience will be worth 25% of our score, references will be worth 25%, etc."

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly.

    Good luck!  It's your institution's future, so be thoughtful but not paralyzed by the process.  Have some fun with it and be as specific to your institution as possible.  Generic information in = generic proposals generated.


    Barbara Punt
    Punt Consulting Group
    409 North PCH, Suite 326
    Redondo Beach, CA 90277
    (310) 937-3366

    When in Doubt...Punt!

  • 4.  RE: Master Planning RFP

    Posted 02-05-2021 11:03 AM
    Hi Mark,
    Great advice from Guy Hermann!
    We have worked with Guy and other firms on the east coast that can be of great help in your process.
    If anything needed from me/us, let me know.
    No cost/obligation to use our services.
    Happy to help via call and/or email if I can.
    Best regards,

    Art Manask
    Art Manask Consulting
    818 358-3588

  • 5.  RE: Master Planning RFP

    Posted 02-08-2021 11:49 AM
    Also, please keep in mind that if you are searching for a planning firm moving forward, and are reviewing the history of your organization-  it is critical to include firms who have been excluded from your organization's narrative as a result of the legacy of slavery in this country. One resource for finding firms with an insightful perspective is: National Organization of Minority Architects

    Coralina Meyer
    Brooklyn NY

  • 6.  RE: Master Planning RFP

    Posted 02-08-2021 12:16 PM
    Good perspective. As a state agency we go out of our way to include SWAM businesses in our bidding process and it's been very successful and mutually beneficial.

    Mark Howell, Director of Education

    Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation | P.O. Box 1607 | Williamsburg, VA 23187

    757.253.4940  | | Follow us on Facebook

                       crossed rigging.jpg