In my previous blogs in this series I set the stage for a particularly bad RFP to which Source One was invited. So far we’ve seen information withheld, unreasonable turnaround times (Part 1), and spelling errors galore (Part 2). But we haven’t even gotten to the actual ask of the RFP. So let’s look at that now.

Here’s the very first question they asked after the usual "adminis-trivia" of Company Name and Contact Information:

“Does your company provide sourcing services? Enter Yes/No If “No,” please specify if your company provides this service:” 

What kind of RFP is this? Ask the supplier if they can do something, and if they say no, ask them if they can do that thing again. Is it one of those tests they use to diagnose personality or cognitive disorders? I really don’t understand this question. “Can you do this? No? OK, well, can you do this?”

At this point my team and I decided that we had enough, between unreasonable turnaround time, spelling errors, information withheld, and nonsensical questions. We would not be participating. So we wrote back:

Source One: “Thank you for including Source One in this opportunity but given the enormity of scope/requirements, the tight turnaround, and our inability to speak directly with the stakeholders leading this initiative, we are unable to provide an RFP response at this time.”  

I decided not to mention all the spelling errors because in my experience, people try to invalidate arguments by saying that focusing on spelling is trivial. I digress.

Having sent the message above, I expected either to get no reply, or if I did it would be the standard courtesy “We are disappointed to hear you won’t be participating but thank you for your time.” Instead, this is what I got:
Bad Sourcing Team: “Hi Ken, Thank you for your response. I am sorry to inform you that we are running on a very tight deadline. Please give me the contact information for the person who will be responding to this RFP.” 

I declined the opportunity to participate, and they wrote back asking us how we’re going to participate. Again I wonder – is this some kind of psychological experiment or tactic? Maybe I should have my team drop everything they’re doing (including active client work) so that we can respond to this RFP. There’s gold in them thar hills!

But then I remember the axiom that “the simplest answer is often the most correct.” The simplest answer in this case is that this is a Bad RFP – and the people running it don’t care enough to check for quality and to comprehend their own correspondence. They’re just checking the box of contacting X amount of providers and getting Y amount of responses.

Sourcing Managers: If you are simply picking the lowest cost provider when it comes to additional support for strategic sourcing – you might be signing yourself up to send out hastily-developed, shoddy RFPs backed by terrible communication skills. Can you really afford that?
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Ken Gaul

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