The Do's and Don'ts of the RFP Process

Posted by Jack Biersdorfer

Recently, I had the opportunity to be on a panel at the SOCAP Conference. The topic I discussed was around  the Do's and Don'ts of the RFP process.

Did you know:The average company spends 1,500-2,100 hours on the RFP process, which equates to $125,000 - $175,000 per year? 

It is critical that you manage the RFP process correctly to yield the program expectations that the executive team has put in place.

Here are my Top 5 Takeaways as it relates to the RFP Process

  1. Sound business decisions are based on intelligence, trust, value and relationships.  It’s tough to extract these attributes from the RFP process, so you need to approach the process differently.
  2. If you’re not required to write an RFP, don’t. And if organizational regulations require you to proceed with an RFP process, don’t re-use the template from 3-5 years ago. 
  3. I would not make a decision to partner with a vendor until your executive team has met with the potential vendors executive team.  You want to make sure that you have executive sponsorship to make this work from both sides. 
  4. Guess what, a level playing field and ‘apples to apples comparisons’ are not reality.   What you are creating by sharing all information with all vendors is strengthening the weakest vendors. 
  5. Your business is rapidly changing and you’re not going to move your business to another vendor for the same solution…So leverage the RFP to clearly state your challenges without being prescriptive and challenge the vendors to solve real problems, not just staff to numbers.

Here is my summary of the Do’s during the RFP Process:

  • DO determine what you’re solving for – what are the goals for this RFP
  • DO build Your Team
  • DO establish your timelines
  • DO decide who you will invite to participate (how many) and how many finalists will you narrow the field to
  • DO use the services of an external consulting firm or internal department to facilitate/coordinate each step
  • DO use an on-line response system

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What are your thoughts? What are the Do's and Don'ts of the RFP Process that you would recommend? Leave me a comment below or tweet me @JackbHGS


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