Top Ten Reasons RFPs May Not Be Necessary

RFPs

Many companies require departments to issue RFPs for new business software systems, often when the cost estimate exceeds a certain dollar amount. Unless there are legal requirements that mandate an RFP process, consider these ten reasons why you should research alternative acquisition options.

  1. With today’s internet, gathering competitive information on products and vendors couldn’t be easier. Why bother with an RFP or RFI if the goal is information gathering?
  2. Many vendors, as a matter of policy, will not respond to RFPs, believing there is already a preferred vendor in place. Your well-intentioned RFP could inadvertently be excluding qualified vendors.
  3. RFPs tend to unnecessarily prolong the vendor selection. If you already have a preferred vendor or two, focusing on them will save time and generally produce a quality choice.
  4. Vendors want your business and will often lie or exaggerate their capabilities in RFP responses. Researching vendors and engaging them 1 on 1 will provide a more honest assessment. It’s easy to lie or stretch the truth in a written RFP response, but much harder to do so when asked face-to-face in a presentation.
  5. If the ultimate goal of an RFP is to gather competitive quotes from already screened vendors, consider a less formal RFQ. You will save time and generate the same desired result.
  6. RFP questions are often all over the map, intermingling true requirements, nice-to-haves, and even completely irrelevant questions. Nothing discourages prospective vendors like entire sections where they must respond in the negative. If you must issue an RFP, stick to your known requirements, and consider an RFI instead.
  7. If you are considering releasing an RFP for a new system, chances are you already have a qualified vendor in mind. Why muddy the waters with several new and often confusing proposals when you already have confidence in your first choice.
  8. Consider researching and selecting a short list of vendors and go straight for demos, circumventing the Q&A process. RFP decisions are almost always made after the demo. So head straight for the presentation/demo. You will save time, and likely make the same selection.
  9. In most business software categories, there are usually one or more “safe bets” — older reputable companies with large install bases. You have heard the phrase “No one was ever fired for choosing xxx”. There is a reason they have that level of reputation, so why not make that safe bet?
  10. If your department has a requirement to issue an RFP for purchase of systems above a certain threshold, consider finding a qualified solution that falls within that cap. Even though a cheaper system may be lacking in some functional areas, they may simply be “good enough”. You may just look like a hero by saving your company time and dollars.

RFPs do not guarantee the right vendor choice for your business, and often make the decision more time-consuming and confusing. So if RFPs are not absolutely mandated, then develop an alternate plan of action that will ultimately lead to a qualified selection.

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