So, Do You Throw Provider RFX Templates Out with the Packaging?

This post originally ran two years ago. (Link) SI is repeating this post because the majority of organizations still have issues with RFX templates of all shapes and sizes for all types of purchases.

So, do you throw provider RFX templates out with the packaging? That depends. If you have lazy, uneducated, or inexperienced Supply Management personnel (because your Procurement department was staffed like the Island of Misfit Toys), then you want to delete them as soon as you get them because, if a template exists for the product or service you want, it will be sent out more-or-less as is and you’ll get a specification that is two sizes too large, two sizes too small, or very irregular and not at all a good fit for your organization.

On the other hand if you have educated, experienced, go-getting Supply Management personnel who take the time to properly construct an RFX, going through the steps outlined in our many RFX series here on SI, then they do have a use. Specifically, as a check-list after the RFQ has been completely drafted to make sure that nothing was missed. Sourcing is complex these days and it’s hard even for an expert to include every relevant detail every time when time and resources are so scarce. There’s a reason that even hospitals and clinics use checklists, because it greatly decreases the chance of a (serious) error being made. If a vendor, that built a template as a result of analyzing dozens of events, included something in an RFX template, then, at least at one point in time, it was very relevant and, as such, should not be excluded from an RFX until a senior buyer confirms that the market or standard operating conditions have changed and that the question, cost component, or requirement is no longer relevant.

So, these templates do have their uses, as long as they are editable by senior buyers. Because, as explained in the last paragraph, over time, some parts of the template will become irrelevant and other questions, cost components, or requirements will become very relevant and need to be in all RFXs related to that product or category. If the senior buyers can completely customize the templates to the categories, products, and services of the organization and configure the tool so that no template is used out-of-the-box (until a senior buyer confirms that it is still accurate enough out-of-the-box), then the templates, and template features, have a use.

But as-is, the templates in many template libraries are probably still less useful than calling a supplier over the phone and saying you need a quote for customized circuit boards and doing three-bids-and-a-buy blind.

In other words, templates have a use, which is why the doctor encourages most vendors to have a library of templates that can be used as starting points, but their use, until customized by a senior buyer, and reviewed regularly, is that of a post-RFX creation checklist. Nothing more. And not understanding this can get your organization in serious trouble in its sourcing events.

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