I love this article from Smashing Magazine called A comprehensive web planning guide. This outlines pretty much everything wrong with agency web quoting and why I want to stay in bed most days. Everything goes back to planning, communication and having all the right people in the room from the start.
While created with good intentions, RFPs are often a bad idea both for the issuing party and for web firms responding to them. Business and organizations who are used to the RFP process should realize that for a complex and creative project like building a website, this approach is often inappropriate. (It works just great for more static creative work, like print advertisements, but for flexible digital endeavors, it’s just not effective.) In many cases, asking a web designer to craft a detailed response to an RFP is like asking an architect to create blueprints for a house “so we can see what you would do for us.” This is akin to asking someone to work for free (on “spec”), and such a process can be demanding and unfair.
Worse still, when a business has already chosen a designer, RFPs may be issued simply to go through the motions, pretending to seek competitive bids, giving the appearance that rules were followed. This bypasses the critical needs assessment, forcing designers to invent numbers and timelines without enough information to do so. It is a waste of time and energy.
When RFPs are sent to a large number of designers, the only thing a response indicates is a willingness to respond to an RFP, not that designer’s suitability for the project.