In my previous blog in this series I set the stage for a particularly bad RFP to which Source One was invited. The RFP was being administered by a third party for an unnamed company, and we were given 2 business days to turn around a response. Though these two factors made me highly suspicious, I decided to give the rest of the RFP a look to qualify it further. You shouldn’t rule out a strategic sourcing business opportunity on these bases alone. So I looked at the actual RFP content. That’s when I noticed that the RFP was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. “Februray,” “servces,” “Standarization”– and there were a lot more. Now, we get it – sourcing people don’t need to be eloquent writers and perfect spellers to do their job well. But we do expect them to use a handy dandy tool called Spell Check (guess what? Spell Check works in Excel, too!). The whole thing reeked of a rush job that was not quality checked.

If you are entrusting a procurement services provider to represent your company’s interests, to build relationships with potential vendors – you need make sure that they don’t give participants the impression that they don’t take this project seriously enough to use spell check. How can you expect potential vendors to take the opportunity seriously if, as far as they know, you don’t?

Remember that in many cases, when you are dealing with services organizations - the people who develop proposals aren’t just sitting around twiddling their thumbs until an RFP comes along. They are fielding inquiries from dozens of potential customers at a time – and if they’re a reputable industry player – they are custom-developing proposals and Scopes of Work that best meet their customers’ requirements. In other words, a good procurement services provider is not simply taking their “Proposal Template X” off the shelf, slapping your company’s logo on it, and sending it over to you expecting you to sign on in short order. Any procurement services provider worth their salt is likely investing hours and hours of their valuable time and pulling in Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from billable work to carefully craft a detailed proposal and supporting documentation to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

But let me take a breath here. Maybe I am being too dramatic. We’re just talking about some spelling mistakes, right? Spelling errors in an RFP aren’t the end of the world / incontrovertible evidence of bad sourcing. Well - we’d be willing to look past spelling and grammar mistakes in an otherwise solid RFP.

This wasn’t otherwise a solid RFP...I'll wrap this up in Part 3...
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Ken Gaul

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