Is a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ) in your future? To make sure that your RFP does not become a “Request for Problems,” consider the following advice:
- Engage the right team. Include a cross-section of stakeholders to develop the RFP and to evaluate proposals.
- Send the RFP only to 2-3 qualified parties. By the time you reach the RFP stage, you should have a good idea of which suppliers can best meet your needs. Do not waste the supplier’s or your time just to get pricing information.
- State the evaluation criteria up front. Share the “high level” criteria such as fit with business needs, ease of use, supplier qualifications, etc. Spare the details.
- Provide project background information. This sets the stage and gives the supplier a reference point.
- Provide a proposal outline or response template. This permits you to compare proposals on a level playing field. A clear outline will elicit better responses and a template should make responses easier to evaluate. Limit the response length in certain areas as you see fit.
- Make it easy for the supplier to respond. Be specific with your request for information. Avoid asking for superfluous information, and instruct the supplier to be brief.
- Provide a single point of contact. Typically, Supply Chain or Procurement is the contact. The single contact will ask the end-user of the product/service for help in answering questions in their domain. This levels the playing field and keeps politics out of the equation as much as possible.
- Request customer references–and check them! Assume that suppliers give only positive references. If you have contacts within other organization, then call them as well. Ask the same questions of each reference, including questions like, “Would you choose this supplier if you had to do it again?”
- Impose a “quiet period” from the RFP issue date through supplier selection.
- Provide feedback to ALL suppliers. After selecting a supplier, remember to give feedback to those who did not win the bid. Surprising, many organizations forget this common courtesy.
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