There are plenty of best practices for conducting an RFx, many of which become fairly routine for those who have run their fair share of them. In the past, we have blogged about what not to do when running an RFP, listing things like 'spamming' the RFx to unexpecting suppliers, running unreasonably tight timelines, or writing the RFx with a supplier already in mind and making it nearly impossible for others to compete. Recently, we came across two additional examples of what not to do when running an RFI or RFP.

The first was an RFP we had not expected but, upon review, looked like a perfect fit for our company: telecommunications audit and strategic sourcing. But then we looked a bit closer at the submission criteria and it included a mail-in only policy. Sure, we still see this as policy for some of our customers from time to time, but that's not where it ended. The submission required eight hard copies of the response, each in separate binders! Further, the RFP called for notarization of six documents, of which we needed 8 copies of each. Our decision to not pursue it basically boiled down to this: If there is such a lack of engagement and unnecessary bureaucracy during the RFP stage, what would it be like to work with the organization as a client? Then again, there might be enormous cost reduction potential on the table...

The second example of what not to do came in via RFI. The RFI came as a second round to a previous bit of business we had bid on about nine months prior, which we can refer to as Phase I. Phase I was intended to be a telecom audit to be used in preparation for a Telecommunications Expense Management (TEM) rollout. Unfortunately, we did not gain an opportunity to work on Phase I. We did keep in touch, however, with the prospect and were considered for Phase II, the TEM rollout. A simple glance at the TEM RFI showed that the RFI had clearly been written by the bidder who won the business for Phase I. The RFI was 190+ questions, many of which were written specifically to eliminate every other competitor, leaving their own tool the only solution that would fit the requirement set. The prospect did not realize that having the provider write their RFI did not give them a fair look at the marketplace at all. Hopefully they got a good deal.

Both of these situations were easily avoidable. In the former, some supplier engagement and process streamlining would have gone a long way. In the latter, the prospect relied too heavily upon their incumbent service provider to build specifications for them and draft the RFI. They would have been much better served to use the service provider as a supplement, but to define their requirement set independently if they truly wanted a clear understanding of what is available in the marketplace.

At Source One, we help our clients build requirements, identify and engage suppliers, draft RFx documents, review proposals, and negotiate final contracts. For help with any of these activities, contact Source One at
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David Pastore

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