RFPs suck for both sides of the equation. Bidders hate responding to them and the requesting organization hates reviewing them.
Well, because they’re time consuming… and each side believes that the other side is: 1) Only spending enough time to barely glean the financials off the top; 2) Inserting default language from prior RFPs which may or may not have relevance to the current project; and 3) Only doing this to appease some misguided sense of a “strategic sourcing process”. These assumptions are all 100% true:
- Using RFPs correctly can be a valuable part of a strategic sourcing process. But generally speaking, they’re hastily assembled, from a template, and sent out without consideration as to who will get them.
- Responses almost always arrive at the last possible moment – not because they’re the product of countless hours of taxing effort and meticulous drafting – but because they’re tossed in a drawer and forgotten until the last possible moment.
- Reviews ARE hastily done… with receiving “teams” designated to score RFPs by section but having no real training as to how to do it properly (usually because they didn’t spend enough time working on a requirements document for the project to begin with).
How do I know this? Well, it’s easy, really. After a decade of using them, I long ago learned to monitor the Word document’s properties for the RFP itself. It’s where I’ve asked responses to come electronically, so I can see EXACTLY how much time has been spent editing the document. Do I really think that it only takes an hour of editing to respond to one? Ha. Only if it’s a copy-paste job.
But I’d wondered what bidders were doing to monitor our review. Now I know. And I think it’s an excellent smack-down. Reviewers SHOULD be held accountable for the efforts they ask others to expend on their behalf. As time-consuming processes go, you should at least be willing to put in the effort to review something that you’ve asked someone else to create. Oh, and by all means should you have LIMITED the number of potential respondents long before sending out the document package.
By the way, all of the food, drink and alcohol provided by these various agencies sure smacks of impropriety to me. NEVER send a reviewing organization ANYTHING until after the deal has been signed… and then you’d better comply with that organization’s gift policy or you should expect to get it back.