Best Practices for Successful RFPs

When a post starts with a caveat, you may be tempted to dismiss it, but I hope you won’t write this off. I’m writing with a good spirit and good intentions, even though this could be misconstrued as sour grapes or something worse. I truly hope this post informs you and helps you achieve your objectives.

My goal is to help you achieve your objectives when submitting RFPs for professional services. I have to say at the outset that I don’t believe RFPs are the best avenue for securing the results you want and need from a consultant. RFPs may be great for buying staples and tissues, but not so much for buying expertise. We’ve read hundreds of RFPs in the course of our RHB history and 99% of them are problematic for one reason or another. For one, they generally fail to seek the best match between a client and a service provider. The requisites and questions aren’t crafted for a multitude of variables.

Second, they’re expensive. When your institution pays to have someone develop an RFP, you use time in engaging many prospects who may or may not be qualified and the providers themselves invest thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours preparing responses. And, you and your colleagues invest hundreds of hours reviewing them. This waste of time and money could be readily rescued by a few hours on the phone or in a video conference and with better results.

Third, while they may answer some basic questions about who’s willing to respond to your request, responses to RFPs likely don’t sift out who is best equipped to help you. They say little about whose “chemistry” best mixes with your own.

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Rick Bailey

Rick is the Principal and founding partner at RHB.