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Request for Proposal: Website Services

Statement of Intent

This Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks submissions of proposals to provide website hosting, maintenance, support services, content migration, and web development.

Proposals may include one or more of the services above (e.g., website hosting only, website development only, or full-service hosting and development support). Firms may also propose partnerships to jointly provide full-service hosting and development support, but the provider of each service and the related costs for each must be clearly specified.

This RFP does not commit Grinnell College (herein, the College) to select any vendor, award any work order, pay any costs incurred in preparing a response, or procure or contract for any services or supplies. Grinnell College reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to accept or reject any or all responses received, negotiate with any or all qualified respondents, and request modifications to proposals in accordance with such negotiations; request supplemental or clarifying information from respondents; or cancel, amend or modify the RFP in part or in its entirety. Submitted proposals will be valid for 90 days from the date of submission.

All RFP proposals will remain the property of the College upon submission, will be reviewed in a private session, and kept confidential by the College. Modifications to submitted proposals shall only be accepted in the event that the College substantially changes content or the requirements of the RFP, or at the request of the College. Any such changes shall be communicated to all vendors who have submitted proposals.

The project scope includes two Drupal 7 websites: www.grinnell.edu and forum.grinnell.edu.


Grinnell College has contracted with its current provider for hosting and web development since November 2014. In June 2015, the provider notified Grinnell that they were discontinuing their Drupal business and would no longer be providing hosting or development to the College after September 2015.

The www.grinnell.edu site is entirely built in Drupal 7. It was launched in October 2013 after a redesign and content migration process from Drupal 6. The site was built with a high degree of custom code. Since that time, Grinnell College and the current provider have been working to transfer as much functionality as possible to contributed modules that can be administered by users at the College. The site has little integration with other systems, but has a large amount of content.

The College has two Communications staff who manage the front end and content full time, as well as several developers and a project manager in Information Technology Services who consult and advise as needed. Approximately 50 staff from departments throughout the College are trained to submit and edit website content.

The forum.grinnell.edu site (the Forum) is also built in Drupal 7. While it has a small fraction of the content of www.grinnell.edu, it has a high degree of integration complexity. It must securely interface with donor and directory data that resides in Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge. In addition, it utilizes authorize.net and PayPal for credit card transactions.

The Forum has one full-time website content manager, as well as several developers and a project manager in Information Technology Services who consult and advise as needed.


Grinnell College accepts federal financial aid and is therefore subject to Section 508 regulations. In addition, we are committed to a philosophy of inclusion, and thus require following a minimum of WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines.

Scope of Work


Install, configure, migrate, host and support two load-balanced production instances of Drupal. Each production instance also has a development and a staging environment.

  • One production/staging/development grouping will serve the main public-facing site (www.grinnell.edu) and one production/staging/development grouping will serve the alumni site (forum.grinnell.edu).
  • Each stage instance shall replicate exactly the environment of its respective production instance.
  • Provision production instances with server capacity, memory, and performance that will guarantee that there are no server-side limitations to performance. The two production instances will be separate and meet industry best practice for redundancy of power, content delivery, and other services. The production instances of Drupal will be supported by a 100% uptime service level agreement.
  • Provision two staging instances with resources adequate for development and testing, and keep them in sync with the corresponding production instance.
  • Administer and maintain the integrity of the servers on which the services run. This includes timely patch management, hardware maintenance and replacement, configuration and performance optimization.
  • Provide a total of 200 GB of mass storage.
  • Provide unlimited bandwidth for access to the sites.
  • Provide redundant offsite data backup (nightly) and restoration services as part of our routine support for Drupal (please detail any fees charged to restore user-deleted content). Please indicate in your proposal the guaranteed recovery time should the service be requested.
  • Monitor performance of the production instances continuously and address server-side factors that limit performance, share monitoring data with the College and provide incident reports and root cause analyses for any outages.
  • Alert the College immediately of any actual or potential security issues, including but not limited to intrusions, data theft, and loss or compromise of backup data.
  • Coordinate closely with College staff in testing the migrated instances and DNS record updates to complete the migration.
  • Provide ongoing access to College staff to a version repository (e.g., github) that contains the existing sites, themes, files, and modules required for the site operation.

Drupal Support

The selected firm will support the ongoing management of the www.grinnell.edu Drupal site. The site currently uses Drupal 7 and no plans are in place to move to Drupal 8 at this time.

Support areas include:

  • Managing core updates and patches
  • Installing contributed modules
  • Custom module development
  • Theme support
  • Front-end training for site administrators
  • Backup and Git repository management

The site is currently stable, and while there are several projects that require work in the near-term, there are no redesigns or major projects planned. For planning purposes, a support partner should have capacity to provide approximately 10 hrs/month for standard support, with the capacity to take on major projects with advance notice.


Publication of RFP – July 14, 2015

Deadline to Submit Questions – July 20, 2015, noon

Response to Questions – July 21, 2015, noon (responses posted here)

Responses Due – July 31, 2015

Intent to Award Notification - August 14, 2015

Respondents must adhere to the College's Terms and Conditions, and all proposals must adhere to and be familiar with the College’s policies and procedures.

All fields below are mandatory except as indicated.


Firm Qualifications and Experience
Provide a statement of qualifications for your organization, including a statement of the size of firm (e.g., how many people in total are employed by your company? Please delineate between employees and consultants), a description of services provided by your organization, and a statement of the extent of experience/history providing the services requested by this RFP.
Describe overall services you can offer in response to the stated requirements and include experience working with higher education organizations.
If applicable, list the professional qualifications for each individual that would be assigned to provide services requested by this RFP, including date and school of any applicable degrees, additional applicable training, and any professional certifications/licensing. In lieu of listing this information, you may submit a resume or curriculum vitae for each such individual if the resume/CV includes all the requested information.
Optional: submit a resume or curriculum vitae for each such individual if the resume/CV includes all the requested information. Please compile into a single PDF file.
Have your staff been trained in developing to WCAG 2.0 (Level AA minimum) guidelines? Please describe training and/or qualifications and provide examples of sites you have developed that follow these guidelines.
Proposed Approach

This section describes your proposed approach for meeting the services required by the College, as listed above. Relevant considerations include the quality and feasibility of your approach to meeting these needs, the manner in which you plan to provide adequate staffing (including planning for absences and back-up coverage, training, background checks, and monitoring, etc.), and equipment or other resources provided by you (if applicable). Keep these considerations in mind as you respond to the following:

Describe the project management and client communication processes for your firm.
Identify how you will meet all other aspects of the scope of work and related requirements listed above, and list any items you cannot provide.
Please describe your proposed hosting solution. Please indicate whether your solution is self-hosted or utilizes a third-party platform (Rackspace, Amazon, Acquia, etc.). You may present more than one option, but you must include costs for each option in the section below.
Describe the measurements/metrics/deliverables/assessments you will provide on at least a quarterly basis to allow the College to assess the services you will provide.
Customer Service
In the event of a routine problem, who is to be contacted within your organization?
In the event of the identification of a problem by the College and/or other applicable constituents, describe how you will address such problems and the timeframe for addressing them.
Please list any current violations or claims against you/your organization and those having occurred in the past five years, especially those resulting in claims or legal action against you.

Provide a detailed explanation for all costs associated with your providing the requested services if you are selected. Grinnell College intends to enter into a contract with the selected vendor for an initial one year term. Grinnell College shall have the option to extend the contract for 2 additional one year terms, said option(s) to be exercised at the sole discretion of Grinnell College. The College may choose to negotiate separate contracts for www.grinnell.edu and forum.grinnell.edu.

Reference #1
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Supporting Materials
Please attach any supporting materials that may support your proposal. These supporting documents must be in support of, not in lieu of, responses to the questions above. (Please compile into a single PDF file.)