Fine-Tune Your RFPs for Streamlined Performance (Software Acquisition Insider Tips VII)

A recent article over on Supply Management . com on going faster pointed out many of the problems with RFXs that cause unnecessary process delays. Fixing these problems will enable your RFX process, which you now know how to construct in an unbiased fashion, to flow smoother and faster.

  1. Poor Scope
    The scope is not clearly defined at the start of many RFP processes. “A solution to automate our purchasing” is extremely vague as is “50,000 boxes”, which a quick trip to cBoxBid will quickly point out. (Dimensions? Style? Weight/Flute? Glue Tab? Printing? Color? etc.) The scope needs to cleary define what is required (automation of purchase order creation, invoice collection, and e-payments or 12″*12″*8″ boxes that can hold at least 45 lbs) and the desired outcomes (automated tactical processes with m-way matching and manual review only required on discrepancies and purchases over administrator defined thresholds or 5,000 boxes per shipment with 21 days notice).
  2. Lack of a Performance Regime
    The long-term success of a major contract will depend on a mix of “hard contractual” and “soft behavioural” factors. It is imperative to define success via a comprehensive performance regime with a simple hierarchy of performance measures and targets, and a mechanism for rewarding good service and deterring underperformance.
  3. No Team Empowerment
    Like every other sourcing and procurement activity, a successful RFX (process) requires a dedicated and fully supported team. A core team, authorized to make the necessary decisions, is required throughout the process and beyond to ensure consistency and clarity with the bidders.
  4. The Contract is an Afterthought
    The RFX should be presented in a format that matches the product or service being requested and should fully explain the selection process, the evaluation criteria, the rules of engagement, the delivery schedule, and the terms and conditions. In other words, the contract (template), which should clearly specify what is and is not negotiable, should be drafted up front and presented to all participants. Otherwise, you might work through a long, laborious RFX process only to find out that the winning bidder(s) can not, or will not, agree to your terms and have to go back to the drawing board.
  5. The Process is Not Managed
    The largest risk in any RFX process is a misunderstanding, and the sad thing is that this is very likely if sufficient information is not made available to the bidders and the process is not managed. It’s important to manage the process and communicate with the bidders at each step to make sure they have received all of the materials, understand all of the requirements, and have all of the information they need to craft their responses. The process should include regular briefings, review meetings, and question and answer sessions to insure that it flows smoothly.