by Ken Pedersen
If you’re like most companies, when it comes to choosing a product or service delivery partner, you use a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) selection process. Be careful! RFPs can lead you to the very place you hoped to avoid: An arbitrary choice that yields a decision no better than just going with gut feeling.
Here are five ways to get the best outcomes from your RFP process:
- Give your vendors adequate time to analyze and address your complex needs.
- Strive for authentic dialog. Share real information about your requirements and observe whether your vendors care enough to take the time to understand them.
- Enlist vendor creativity and expertise by detailing what success looks like in business terms instead of obsessing about product features and competitive knock-offs.
- Make it a win for both you and them. Don’t make it all about price. While price is always important, ‘cost,’ has many dimensions (time, quality, opportunity cost). Balance initial out-of-pocket costs with generating the best overall return.
- Ask for commitments! Prioritize in favor of suppliers who back their claims with their own investment in your outcomes.
One of the key problems with the RFP process is that it encourages gamesmanship that has little to do with making the best decisions. Do your best to control the game-playing in favor of a more authentic process that unleashes the knowledge, experience and creativity of potential vendors. The result? More enlightened decisions with better outcomes for everyone.
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