Think of running an RFP like corporate speed dating; not only do you want to put your best face forward and solicit competitive bids from vendors, but you want to find the best match for your company. Ideally, the process will facilitate an effective relationship with your supplier.
With all of this on the line, drafting an effective RFP can seem like a daunting process. Luckily, Scout’s e-procurement software takes care of most of the headache with built-in RFP templates to ensure uniform responses. However, when it comes to content, here are four tips for your next RFP to help you find your ideal business partner:
Communication is a two-way street. You need to let potential vendors know what they are getting into before either of you commit to a long-term partnership. This means providing context to your proposed project such as your company’s background, what you do, and how you differentiate yourself from competitors in your industry. The more information you provide about your company’s culture and unique value proposition, the more likely you are to find a vendor that complements your company’s strengths.
Describe the Problem
Focusing on your company’s problem doesn’t have to be a negative exercise. In fact, attempting to describe an “ideal solution” in your RFP could be limiting your success. Instead, try to articulate the problem as best you can and describe your project’s central pain point. Focusing on the challenge at hand encourages vendors to propose their own creative solutions, showcasing their expertise and understanding of your needs. You may find that your responders propose better solutions than any you had in mind.
Healthy relationships are built on realistic expectations. In the procurement world, this translates to telling vendors exactly what success looks like for your project. You should include project goals and objective outcomes that, if met, constitute a win for your company. Whether you want to break into a new market, increase sales, or move more product, establishing concrete goals helps orient vendors to the criteria you will use to evaluate their work.
Don’t be afraid to talk money. Discussing important metrics in your request can help save you and your potential suppliers valuable time in the proposal process. Including a timeline and a budget range for your project allows vendors to self-select based on their capabilities. Be sure to discuss the quantitative limitations and requirements of the project, be it shipping overhead, profit margins, or product volume. Being upfront about the project’s logistics and budget allows vendors to realistically assess their ability to deliver on your request.
As Dr. Phil would say, the key to a healthy business relationship is communication. Scout’s e-procurement software helps you use your RFP to facilitate a dialogue between your company and potential vendors and ensure compliance down the road.