There is an alternative to an RFP, so before you go ahead and start the process, we have a better suggestion for you.....
Although an RFP process is a tried and trusted approach to technology selection and procurement, it has a range of challenges that mean that many people simply refuse to go through a standard process.
The Problem With An RFP Process:
Here are some of the reasons why you might not want to run an RFP:
Time - an RFP process can bring significant delays to your project. A considerable amount of time is devoted to the various parts of the process, from writing and agreeing to the terms of the RFP document, to the convoluted response expectations which can consume months at a time.
Cost - the process typically incurs costs at every stage - it's expensive to run, and even more expensive for the suppliers themselves as they devote precious pre-sale resources.
Supplier Disinterest - many technology vendors and systems integrators refuse to take part in a standard RFP process, particularly if they are not aware that the RFP is coming (a 'blind RFP') or perceive that they have little chance of winning. It can cost the supplier tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars to bid - with no certainty that they will win. It also means that their sales, technical and legal teams can be invested in a process that can go on for a number of months.
You Get What You Ask For - a major issue with a standard RFP is that you take away any opportunity for the supplier to be creative. Invariably they will give the client exactly what they ask for - nothing more, nothing less - and at a reduced cost. That's great if the purchasing company knows exactly what they need, but this is highly unlikely to be the case.
A Better Approach
If your business allows it, why not try something different and see how that works for you? There are a variety of different approaches that shortcut the process and bring more suppliers to the table with better ideas. At Viewpoint Analysis, we act as Technology Matchmakers. A central role of our company is to help businesses to find and select technology to meet their needs. We offer two approaches that are completely different to the stereotypical RFP process.
1 - The 'Meet My Need' Service
The 'Meet My Need' procurement service, as the name suggests, is all about issuing a problem statement and asking the vendors to respond with how they might tackle the challenge. This really is a game-changing approach as it no longer needs a lengthy RFP document, or a million and one different questions to be answered. It simply poses a question to the vendor and asks them to solve the problem in the best way that they know how.
Its main advantages include:
Speed - the process can be completed in a few short weeks. The set-up and writing of the vendor briefing document is super quick. The responses from the vendors can be dramatically reduced both in terms of elapsed time and documentation. It's not difficult at all.
Creativity - it brings the power of the vendors to your door. No longer required to fit your specific demands, they are able to be much more creative and they will likely bring their 'a-team' to respond.
Vendor Participation - this is the type of response a vendor will welcome. It is a partnering approach where you are asking for input. It means that they will want to be included and will understand what they are aiming to achieve.
Learn more about the Meet My Need service at our Vendor Selection area.
2. The 'Rapid RFP'
For customers who have to issue an RFP - we have a middle-ground - it's called the Rapid RFP. Again, it's a real departure from a standard RFP in that we aim to get the process done and dusted in just 2 to 4 weeks. It is an RFP - but it's an RFP that is completely designed for speed.
How does it work? Well, it works like this:
We write the vendor briefing document for you - using a super-quick approach that works more like a problem statement than a longer RFP.
We keep the number of recipients to a minimum, an RFP should be reserved for your shortlist, so there should be no more than 4 vendors included.
The process is streamlined to take out any wasted time and effort, for both the buying team and the vendors. We have one call to present to the vendors and to answer their questions - meaning that they take part together and ensure that we don't waste weeks of elapsed time in the education process.
We provide pre-built templates - meaning that the buying team doesn't have to make them up themselves. They can simply be edited to fit the need. Furthermore, they are limited in terms of length, there is no need to ask thousands of questions - it just delays the process significantly.
The Rapid RFP is an RFP - but it's so much quicker. The vendors will respond as they will see the speed and direction of travel. The process will be dramatically reduced. The executive sponsor will be happy - and the project can get started that much quicker. It's a win/win for all concerned.
If you want to see more about the Rapid RFP and how it can act as an alternative to an RFP, check out our Rapid RFP which provides the quickest RFP possible.
So, there is a better way. There is an alternative to an RFP - your team will love it. Your vendors will want to be a part of it. Your costs will go down and your final solution will be so much better for it. Go and take a look at the two services above, and maybe see what other options are open to you.