The Best RFP Process Advice We've Ever Heard
Obviously, we spend our days building RFP software and assisting clients, but we also issue and respond to RFPs ourselves. So we always have our ear to the ground for advice on how to make the vendor selection process easier, great RFP examples, and common pitfalls to avoid.
Here's some of the very best advice we've found so far.
How to streamline your RFP process
Employee Benefit News wrote a fantastic article on Purchasing Power: 10 steps to streamlining your RFP process. Some of our favorite nuggets of wisdom were:
"Use a standard RFP template — no more than 10 pages. The three-inch-thick binder looks impressive, but it just puts off vendors." Well said!
Not only will a document of that length definitely frustrate your vendors, but it also creates a nightmare for you come scoring time. Don't issue chit-chat RFPs, narrow down to what you really need to know.
"Incorporate enough time for a proper implementation. Depending on the line of coverage, anywhere from two to four months is needed for a proper implementation. Most problems for employees occur because implementation was done poorly or too quickly."
Defining product ease of use, training required, and support available, effectively accomplishes two things. First, it's doing due diligence and setting appropriate expectations. Second, it's a chance to assess what a vendor will be like to work with in the long haul.
What not to do
So now what know what to do before we issue a request for information or proposal, but what about what not to do?
They list several "foolish" questions frequently asked in RFPs that are just too vague or ambiguous to be helpful. They do a great job explaining why these common (yet ineffective) questions just don't work, and suggestions for "better" and "best" question alternatives.
*Images courtesy of Businessovler eBook
Lockton admonishes the key to effective RFP scoring is setting parameters before you send the request, and keeping the whole process as simple as possible:
"Weighting questions and answers can be an easy way to really set the vendor responses apart and confirm your critical decision factors, but again, don’t make it too complicated. Creating a side by side comparison of all vendor responses can also be helpful when comparing responses."
Agreed. And great news, you don't have to manually compute that side-by-side comparison. Learn how to do it automatically.
Great vendor selection insights and RFP/RFI examples are a great place to start. But they're not enough. All the tips in the world can't change a broken process.
The good news is, it can be better. Stakeholder notes and verdicts can be transparent. Scoring matrices can be automatic (no manual Excel). Vendor profiles can be updated instantly.
Bottom line, the vendor selection process can be infinitely simpler.
**Feature image credit: Ryan McGuire