For almost seven (7) years to be precise – ever since it published its now classic post On Technology RFPs: Don’t Put the Cart Before the Host where it noted that more and more buyers were putting together ridiculously over-specified and complex RFPs for its technology solutions that often eliminated all but the worst solution one could possibly imagine before the first response was even received!
And yet, the doctor missed this two-part series later this spring by Thomas Kase over on Spend Matters where he asked Why Set Yourself Up to Fail Don’t Use Traditional Solution RFPs (and Part II).
In it he notes that most RFX Templates are bad — not just the ones for technology solutions (which started my rants seven years ago) — and he’s right! Most of them are generalized mash-ups of dozens of RFXs that have been pushed through the solution over the years by a user base which consist of watered-down versions of the most general questions and cost categories, along with a few extra questions and cost requests that the vendor believes are becoming more common and/or more important. As a result you get a one-size-fits-all garment that, depending on your organization, will be two sizes two big, two sizes two small, lopsided, backwards, or even inside out. How can you possibly expect to get a good response from your supplier when you send them a proposal that doesn’t even define your requirements?
Needless to say, the doctor was not surprised to hear Thomas say it was (and probably still is) rare to see a well-written RFP built on a clear use case, with sufficient data and other information to provide the solid assessment of needs that is needed to deliver a response that is reasonably close to what the client needs in order to make a down-selection, or even an award recommendation.
As a result, this is the reason why cold-call solution RFPs (from previously unknown prospects) are unlikely to receive much attention. The better the firm is, the busier they are, and more likely to weed out such RFPs — and the responses you get back can very well be from firms that are either less capable (desperate) or haven’t truly understood your needs. In other words, reducing your chances of a successful first round outcome.
So how can you fix the situation? Come back tomorrow and we’ll cover recommendations from both Thomas and the doctor who has been, and will be, ranting and raving about this for years!