If you search the internet for “tips on writing a Request for Proposal (RFP)” you’ll get over 1,500,000 results that will inundate you with insight and expertise from a variety of sources – from professional sourcing firms and copywriters to IT buyers. How could something that seems so basic generate so many opinions? And why does the process seem so overwhelming, with so many obstacles? In particular, conducting an RFP (also known as “tender”) for relocation services or household goods moving can be overwhelming for mobility and procurement teams. We’ll discuss some of the challenges, along with SIRVA’s innovative solution to this very complex process, below.
Simple Goal - Complex Process
The general premise behind an RFP/tender is simple:
Step 1: Ask questions
Step 2: Get answers
Step 3: Compare providers and make a choice
However, if you’ve ever created or answered an RFP/tender, or ever thought about implementing the process in your business, you’ve likely fallen down the same rabbit hole many of our clients and prospects find themselves in: start scratching the surface of the process and you’ll quickly discover that unexpected complications and complexities can sidetrack your project at every turn.
SIRVA responds to numerous Requests for Proposals and Requests for Information (RFIs) each year. For some companies, the sourcing process is completed in as little as four to six weeks. We’ve seen others whose RFP/tender initiatives have taken multiple years, often without any results. Meanwhile, on average, 9% of the RFPs/tenders we receive each year are ultimately abandoned by buyers for one reason or another.
There isn’t a lot of hard data around about the time and cost that go into conducting a relocation RFP/tender. However, A recent study within the IT industry indicated that, on average, companies invest 4,800 cumulative hours into sourcing new IT systems. For that industry, that’s the equivalent of 2.3 full-time employees, or upwards of $300,000 a year. These results are even more disturbing if you consider that, when surveyed, IT buyers stated that less than 60% of their goals were actually met by the RFP/tender process.
IT is one of the only industries to offer comprehensive data surrounding the RFP/tender process. This is likely due to the fact that buyers have used RFPs to purchase IT solutions for a very long time. Further, the purchase process within the IT segment is often complex and lengthy, so many experts within the industry have spent a great deal of time trying to find faster, more efficient ways to complete the process.
If you consider that IT is somewhat of a tangible purchase, you can imagine how much more complicated sourcing for relocation services can be. Whether purchasing software or systems, IT bids typically focus on well-defined products with easy-to-validate results. On the other end of the spectrum, relocation buyers are buying an intangible service that consists of many integrated parts. Defining the parameters of the perfect supplier can be difficult to pin down. Even within the same company, different stakeholders will hold different perspectives on which criteria are most important. This combination of factors can make for a challenging and often overwhelming process.
How Companies Attempt to Manage the Relocation RFP/Tender Process
Companies that anticipate the complexity of the RFP/tender process generally use one of two methods in an effort to streamline and expedite the process. Each has advantages and disadvantages:
- Using sample questionnaires from relocation providers: For the RFP/tender process to actually work for relocation, the RFP/tender needs to isolate and extract the specific features and qualifications that make a provider the best match. Using sample questionnaires from suppliers or online sources can expedite the RFP/tender development process. However, this method has its downfalls. Every business has unique goals and very specific needs, so using a generic template or questionnaire won’t necessarily isolate the information that’s most important to individual companies. In fact, it often results in getting a lot of non-essential information back from the vendors. Put succinctly, the intended shortcut can result in more work, as stakeholders may end up needing to sift through excessive information. As many companies have found, this often results in sending out additional follow-up questions that will need further review, and/or conducting multiple rounds in the evaluation to effectively narrow the supplier pool.
- Hiring industry consultants to develop and run the RFP/Tender process: Using industry consultants can be an effective way to run an RFP/tender process, as their experience helps to ensure that your request reaches the right suppliers and covers the right topics. Ideally, using a contractor helps to alleviate the administrative burden of executing the RFP/tender and provides professional direction when evaluating suppliers. However, for your RFP/tender to truly identify the right partners, a consultant will still need a considerable amount of time and input from your key stakeholders. The only way to ensure that the consultant identifies the right supplier for you is to ensure that s/he understands your company’s objectives, internal processes, and culture. Those same stakeholders will also need to provide evaluative input of supplier responses in some form to ensure alignment. As such, while a consultant’s leadership and expertise can save time in terms of managing administrative activities, it won’t necessarily eliminate the need for your stakeholders to prepare for and participate in the process.
SIRVA’s Response to this Problem: Simplify the Process with our RFP/Tender Toolkit
To assist companies in their efforts to develop relocation RFPs/tenders, SIRVA has developed an RFP Toolkit, which provides mobility buyers with a faster, more direct, efficient economic path to achieving objective results. The Toolkit provides robust functionality to guide buyers through every step of the RFP/tender process. With SIRVA’s RFP Toolkit, users can:
- Determine the key areas the company is trying to correct by launching an RFP/tender.
- Identify supplier qualifications that are most important to the success of their company’s programme.
- Determine the right questions to ask – to get targeted information that will be needed to assess prospects’ capabilities.
- Rapidly transition from development to the distribution of the entire RFP/tender package.
- Conduct a metrics-based assessment of all responses to determine the best potential partners to move forward in the consideration process.
SIRVA’s RFP Toolkit allows users to quickly create a custom-generated RFI or RFP/tender document. Users simply provide some basic information about their company’s programme and objectives. The Toolkit then uses this information to filter the internal database of more than 1,100 mobility-related questions, returning only those questions that match each user’s qualification criteria.
Next, the Toolkit places these questions into a customisable document that can be included as the questionnaire for an RFI or RFP/tender. The tool also provides boilerplate materials, such as response instructions, pricing templates, and standard privacy information that can be included in the user’s solicitation. The RFP Toolkit allows companies to go out to bid in as little as an hour with a targeted, professional RFP/tender package.
However, the Toolkit does more than just allow users to collect answers to questions. Its new Vendor Analysis Tool also allows sourcing teams to quickly assess and rate vendor capabilities based on the criteria they consider to be most critical to company success. By recording these evaluations side-by-side, all vendor responses can be compared and evaluated in an apples-to-apples way, resulting in a simple, non-discriminatory scoring grid that clearly indicates how each vendor stacks up against the others. This part of the tool supports committee-based buying decisions, as company stakeholders can evaluate the entire response document or only an assigned topic.
A Better Tool for the Right Results
Successful relocation programmes depend on the successful partnership of internal mobility teams and their partners, so a lot is at stake when developing and executing an RFP/tender. By using SIRVA’s RFP Toolkit, users can maximise their time and effort and minimise the stress associated with the RFP/tender process. Users can ensure that their company asks the right questions which, ultimately, lead to the right result.
For more information about the challenges and best practices associated with conducting an RFP/tender, read our recent white paper, Best Practices, Challenges, and Solutions for Conducting a Mobility RFP. To access a free copy of our RFP Toolkit or for more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dee Koharchik | Director, Sales Strategy
Lisa Marie DeSanto | Manager, Content Marketing
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