Small projects: Ask for a POC instead of an RFP

I’m often asked to respond to Requests for Proposal (RFPs). As a small business owner, I am grateful for every request, but I generally decline those opportunities and instead propose a Proof of Concept (POC) project with a money-back guarantee. Read on to find out why.

Size of the project

If a project looks to be 30 hours or less, the time and effort spent by both parties producing, reviewing, and deciding on an RFP are better spent on the project itself. In fact, because these projects are so small, they often go unapproved for months or get forgotten altogether.

An RFP is sometimes just used for vetting candidates

Instead of requesting, waiting for, and reviewing RFPs, do your homework on the reputation and references of potential vendor(s).

For example, to see what Tech Comm Tools and I (Matt Sullivan) am all about, search the internet for something like “Matt Sullivan FrameMaker” or whatever concept for which you are looking for help. Specific experience and social proof usually trumps a beautiful proposal.


Once you’ve identified one or more likely candidates, reach out to them to see if they have interest in working on a POC which is a small part of your project.

You’ll quickly get a sense of whether the vendor is a good fit for you and will be moving toward completion of the project at the same time.


Multiple bids

I expect that any RFP I receive is going out to at least two other organizations, meaning that even if one proposal is accepted, there at least two proposals that will quickly be rejected. While I encourage organizations to do their due diligence, the effort needed to properly respond to the RFP for a small job isn’t proportional to the potential revenue it may provide. Responding to an RFP also takes time away from other revenue activities as well as reducing the effective income from the project itself.

A guaranteed Proof of Concept is better

Many projects in the 10-30 hour range have multiple manageable objectives that can be accomplished in about two hours. Instead of spending two or more hours producing an RFP for consideration, I’d rather spend that time learning about you and your project and accomplishing actual work. While I do charge for a POC, I also offer a money-back guarantee for the Proof of Concept.

The guarantee

Don’t like what I did, how I did it, or just don’t like the cut of my jib? Don’t think I provided enough value or experience?

No problem. We’re probably not compatible for this or other projects and I’ll happily refund the cost of your initial POC project, up to two hours of time.

Crazy, right?

Not really. I’ve been suggesting POCs to clients for 20 years. And while I didn’t offer the refund for that entire time, because of the positive ROI on the initial engagement, the vast majority of POC clients have become solid and repeat Tech Comm Tools customers.

So…have you got a small project for which you can’t seem to pull the trigger? See if a guaranteed POC can give you the jumpstart you need to get started.

Let me know when you’d like to get started

Visit my contact page to see how to get in touch, or use the booking form there to book up to two hours for your own guaranteed POC.

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