What is the No RFPs movement?
We believe that RFPs are bad for business. It's an outdated method that can no longer support our industry. An industry that thrives on innovation surely can work on a better process — a process that focuses on building fruitful client-vendor relationships.
Come on. RFPs aren't that bad. Are they?
If you're looking to purchase several tons of wood, an RFP is probably the best way to go about finding the best vendor for your project. When you're looking to hire vendors who offer a service that is more creative in nature, a cookie-cutter approach won't yield the best results. An RFP will only show you how good a vendor is at writing an RFP response, but won't necessarily yield the best vendor.
Slides from SXSW 2013
Our top 10 tips for clients and vendors
RFP tips for clients
- Don't default to RFP. Can you do something else?
- Honesty is the best policy. Be open and honest with potential vendors. Communicate budgets, timelines, and the details of your /selection process.
- Do not ask for spec work. Ask for examples of previous work instead.
- Research and prequalify vendors. No open bids!
- Talk to the team, not just salespeople. Salespeople should be facilitators, not the mouthpieces of the vendor.
- Relationships matter. Make it easy for vendors to have a relationship with you.
- Engage your stakeholders. They should be involved early and often.
- Don't bite off more than you can chew. Structure contracts in small bites rather than a single, massive RFP.
- Make it a conversation. Allow for open discussions and Q&A whenever possible.
- Know your contracting options. There may be more than you think.
RFP tips for vendors
- Offer alternatives to the process. The RFP process itself is often negotiable.
- Find out how they know you. How did they learn about you? Why were you invited to respond?
- Get to know your competition. How many vendors were invited to bid? Are vendors with existing relationships under consideration? Did another vendor write the RFP?
- Know the players. Find out who the stakeholders and decision-makers are.
- Find an internal advocate. They provide inside information and help you navigate the process.
- No newbies. Has the client ever embarked on a project like this before?
- Scout and prepare. Success often depends on how prepared you are.
- Consider the cost of bidding. If you can’t afford to lose this project, you may not be able to afford to win it.
- Pay attention to the details. If you're going to respond, be thorough, and follow the directions to the letter.
- Play by the rules. Understand the procurement rules, and do not ask your client to violate them.