AutoRFP

Revamping the RFP (Request for Proposal) process for Digital Media Planners while maintaining key business goals through a centralized, web-based RFP management platform.

Duration

8 weeks

Project Type

Concept Ideation, Design for SaaS, User Research, System Design

Role

UX/UI Designer, UX Researcher

Client

Self-driven Project

Project Overview

Designing an RFP Management platform for media agencies to streamline workflow

I self-initiated this project as I was wrapping up my first job after college as a digital media planner for the Disney & 20th Century Studios. Handling RFPs for multiple campaigns including Mulan (2020), Free Guy (2021) and many more made me notice the inefficiencies lying in the RFP process and gave me an urge to create a web-based platform to streamline the fragmented steps. The final product incorporated perspectives of many other media planners, addressing pain points they have experienced during RFPs.

Challenge

The traditional RFP process within the media industry has historically been overly complicated and time costly. There needs to be a revamped process to reduce repetitive steps and increase efficiency.

Solution

Through systemic thinking, research, and user interviews, I ideated and designed a centralized, web-based one-stop shop to streamline the RFP process for media professionals so they can efficiently evaluate, negotiate, and plan campaign elements.

Background

You might ask, what’s an RFP?

Why does RFP need to be tackled?

Through primary and secondary research, I discovered three main reasons for RFP being a challenge during media planning stages if the issues go unaddressed.

Reason #1: It’s time- and labor-consuming.

According to Bionic, it takes 38 hours across 4 job functions to conduct the RFP process. For media agencies, it usually costs more than $3,018 per campaign in labor to perform the RFP process.

Reason #2: It’s the baseline for all media planning stages.

RFP is usually the first step of starting a new campaign, so it has an impact on all later stages including publisher negotiations, actual campaign planning, and even as a reference for future campaigns.

Reason #3: It’s the step where most communications with publishers occur.

On average, media planners send out 50+ RFPs and need to manage mass communication - streamlining this step reduces stress and fatigue for them.

“How might we simplify the RFP review process, help digital media planners quickly and accurately evaluate proposed placements, while maintaining client business goals?”

Research & Exploration

Discovering What’s Working & What’s Not From Different Perspectives

In order to decide on the scope & potential functionalities of the platform, I decided to analyze the RFP workflow, interview my colleagues for various perspectives, and brainstorming features that could hopefully solve some of our key pain points.

Step #1

Summarizing the entire RFP process, find steps that require the most back and forth that could be simplified

Step #2

Interviewing colleagues as well as friends who also work in the industry but do not work at the same agency as me

Step #3

Brainstorming functions and capabilities to resolve pain points and to address the problem statement

Analyzing the RFP Workflow

The first step I took was to dissect the RFP workflow into individual steps using pen and paper. Then I used journey map to summarize the general interaction between media planners and publishers. I found out that media planners spend the most time comparing efficiency, negotiating rates and package elements, and asking questions to publishers through emails.

Interviewing the Experts

By interviewing five media planners across show entertainment, CPG, and gaming industries, I was able to get a grip of their points of friction during the RFP process.

I then synthesized my interview findings into the summary below to help me better define the scope and potential features of the product.

Brainstorming & Ideation

Based on my research findings, I found out that most points of friction media planners experience are actually caused by the format that they send out and receive back proposals  — emails. Because of that nature, reviewing proposals requires additional steps, including opening up excel sheets and powerpoints, and sometimes even reading important details that are buried in publishers' lengthy emails.

The solution I came up with embodies the below functionalities:


01

Instead of RFPing through emails, it will be a centralized, web-based platform

02

Mocks and creative details will be one-click away from the placements - no need to open multiple attachments

03

Past plan rates and historical placement performances will be stored on the platform for easy comparison

04

The platform will automate the recommendation building process by having the media planners check the box for the recommended placements

Design

Build a web-based RFP management platform through iterations

I started off the design process with some rough sketches for the key pages of the platform. With some iterations and re-evaluation of my design decisions, I proceeded with low-fidelity wireframes to help me better visualize the dashboard.

Sketches & Low-Fidelity Wireframes

As I was sketching out some key screens, ideas such as creating a tab for supervisors/directors to leave feedback on recommended plans popped into my head. However, I decided to focus on designing the key features instead of turning AutoRFP into an all-in-one media planning platform due to time constraint and priorities.

High-Fidelity Prototype

The final dashboard prototype addresses the key pain points media planners encounter during the RFP stages. Through this web-based, centralized platform instead of utilizing emails to send and receive RFPs, handling proposals is much more efficient and accurate, maintaining key business goals for media agencies and their clients.

Results

Revamped RFP Process for Efficiency & Accuracy

With AutoRFP, the RFP process will be much more simple, efficient, and accurate. The tool will help media planners evaluate efficiencies and historical performances among publishers, let them view placements in the actual site environment with the “View Placement Mock” function, and lastly, use one-click import to compile the recommendation plan.

Reflection

What I Learned & What This Project Meant to Me

Overall, I really enjoyed the process of designing a platform that would simplify the RFP (request for proposal) procedure for digital media planners, of which I was also part of the target user group.

Since I’m personally very familiar with the RFP process, initially I brainstormed the features of this product only based on my own needs and pain points. However, knowing that I’m not the sole user, I branched out and interviewed others working in the media industry, since everyone and every agency has a different process during the RFP stage. Talking with them and understanding their needs made me realize that having a wide range of users to study from is extremely important before and during the design process, as their input had largely impacted the direction of the product.

I've also received reviews, critiques, and feedback from many experienced designers on this project. In fact, I have been updating the product from time to time to better it since 2020. It taught me an important lesson that good design always needs constant iterations and improvements.

More Case Studies