The request for proposal (RFP) process is a valuable tool in the procurement toolbox. Under the right circumstances, it can facilitate detailed comparison of the products or services offered by different vendors. However, when it comes to selecting highly specialized business software solutions, the RFP process is not always the most efficient route to the best selection.
How do I create an RFP for my business?
Start by working with your team to collect information regarding your needs, then spend some time evaluating those needs to find out which are required and which would just be nice to have. Consider what you need in a product, and also what you need from your future business partner.
Then, consider your bidder population. Ideally, you want to look at a small number of offerings, all of which meet your base requirements, from a small number of vendors.
When does the RFP process work well?
The RFP process can be particularly effective when used to evaluate a small number of vendors, across carefully selected, quantifiable criteria. In most competitive bid situations, assuming the buyer has sufficiently vetted the vendor population, you should expect many of the base features of their offerings to be substantially the same. Don’t waste time asking detailed questions about the things all vendors have in common – focus on the areas that will truly differentiate the winning vendor from the rest of the pack.
What are some of the biggest RFP mistakes that people make?
“Everything and the kitchen sink” – Every proposal writer and procurement representative has a horror story about an RFP that contained hundreds of questions. While these extensive RFPs excel at data gathering, they do not enable effective comparison.
“Show me the money” – While price is an important metric, it should not be the most important metric. When vendors know that a selection process is solely price-driven, they may be incentivized to put forward an unreasonably low proposal (with the knowledge that change orders may be necessary in the future) or a proposal for a bare-bones package (with the knowledge that add-ons may be needed). In either case, the buyer is not evaluating the “real” cost of the fully implemented solution.
“Go long” – Some companies choose to evaluate responses from a very large number of bidders. While this may be required by public-sector entities, companies in the private sector can benefit from limiting the bidder population to a small number of qualified respondents. By limiting the number of bidders in your RFP process, you can drill down into their qualifications and the capabilities of their software – the goal should be to gain an in-depth look at a few qualified providers, not to skim the surface of many potential vendors.
When should I consider other evaluation methods?
While some software consultants are highly knowledgeable about the capabilities of various software packages, many are not, and should not be expected to be. For a company that lacks the experience evaluating business management software, utilizing an expert like Blytheco will give you access to a vast knowledge base and the benefits of our 36 years of experience. Engaging a partner like Blytheco to conduct in-depth discovery and solutioning can result in the procurement of a more elegant, better-fit system than you may be able to find using an RFP evaluation.
Why would Blytheco not participate in my RFP?
As an award-winning value-added reseller, Blytheco is dedicated to working collaboratively with our clients to select and implement the most elegant solution that fits your current and future needs. We start by conducting a detailed discovery process that allows us to understand the ins and outs of your business, including uncovering needs that you might not have known were there. We are able to craft the most successful solution when we have access to our prospects and their deep industry/organizational knowledge. The traditional RFP response process does not always permit this type of vendor/buyer cooperation.
Therefore, Blytheco is highly selective regarding when to respond to a prospect’s RFP. When we feel that information about the prospect’s business is limited, or when we feel that we may not have sufficient opportunity to demonstrate the value we bring to the selection and implementation process, we may choose not to respond.
Conversely, in situations where we have the access to the prospect necessary to take a deep dive into your business needs, and when we know we are working with a partner who values our consultative approach, Blytheco can create an effective and attractive proposal package.
If you’d like to discuss your software needs with the software consultants at Blytheco, we are happy to help. We offer a free 2-hour consultation to help you identify your key needs; just click below.