Ditch the RFP Process and Dig Deeper

How do you hire a vendor to meet growing business needs? Usually, when a company has a particular requirement or needs a service from another business, they submit a request for proposal (RFP). This is a business document that announces and provides details of a project and solicits bids from contractors – agencies that can complete the project in the given timeframe.

Many industry leaders from the marketing, communication, and consulting circles have grown to dislike the RFP process. Here is why:

Research Killer

When you want a vendor to review your company’s requirements via an RFP, you would like them to propose an innovative solution. Innovation is what makes you stand out from your competitors.

By default, RFPs curb creativity. The specifications you add to the process are actually restrictions that prevent the vendor from studying other possibilities. As a result, you might miss out on better solutions.

The best agencies know that they must develop an in-depth understanding of what problems you face. As such, they demonstrate one or more solutions for them. The fundamental nature of an RFP can stifle this creativity and limit your organization to a limited number of solutions.

Budget Uncertainty

Do you set a budget for the project before receiving the proposals?

When an organization is uncertain of what to include in a redesigned website, an RFP can be a good source of experimentation. In some projects, the stakeholders are in two minds. They use an RFP to test new ideas and determine the potential project costs. Rather than setting a specific budget, they use the RFP process to go through the proposed costs from vendors and decide the average project cost. As you can guess, a project like that lacks proper commitment from the higher-ups and often fails.

Format Rigidity

One of the most important stages in a project is the early discovery phase. This is where the organization collects requirements and understands what opportunities and risks are involved. The RFP process is extremely resource-intensive. It encourages the organization to spend lots of time – days, weeks, or even months – preparing comprehensive analyses of these factors.

However, the organization often lacks a clear understanding of technical issues due to a lack of subject matter experts. This means the project is compiled with inadequate, contradictory, and inaccurate information.

To add insult to injury, these scenarios are often constrained by a stringent communication policy, which often prevents direct conversation between the organization and agency.

Usually, there is a question and answer period in an RFP process where agencies must submit their questions by a deadline. The client then produces a single document and answers each of them. Although agencies try to be more open, the process itself is too inflexible. As a consequence, the agency fails to collect proper insights. Also, without an open line of communication with all stakeholders, there’s always the possibility of a poor culture fit, which may cause issues down the road.

Quantity Over Quality

RFPs were designed to address the distribution dilemma by circulating the company’s needs to a large number of relevant agencies. The idea is that a structured document and process can attract more agencies to apply. While this approach does work, many of the proposals lack substance because a lot of time goes into creating a good proposal, which is costly for agencies.

Therefore, most agencies only respond when they are certain that they have an advantage over others. The lack of incentives can discourage others from pitching, while those who apply may not spend many resources on the proposal.

The UX Studio Approach

Despite the glaring issues in the RFP process for both clients and vendors, a lack of a better solution means that it is still widely used. That is why UX Studio has come up with a viable solution: a paid discovery service.

Here’s what you get:

Recommendations from Subject Matter Experts

In the discovery process, we start by establishing a framework for your project, which includes defining the overarching project goals. Next, our subject matter experts thoroughly study your operations and recommend the best tools to meet your goals. For example, we help you find the most affordable third-party tools to automate core operations to improve efficiency.

Coordination with Stakeholders

We smoothly coordinate with the project stakeholders – participants of your operations. Moving forward, we arrange discussions to gain a clear understanding of their daily tasks and the critical aspects of their roles. It is important to identify the difference between your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” features and prioritize their execution accordingly.

Benefits

Here are the benefits you get from this process:

  • Eliminate assumptions and define all the moving parts
  • Uncover your true needs and assign priorities, without RFPs hindering research
  • Define what will make this project a success
  • Avoid resource wastage, setbacks, scope creep, and missed requirements
  • Benefit from a tailored solution
  • Decrease the likelihood of choosing the wrong platform to a significant extent
  • Experience a stronger partnership with the other party before the project starts

Involvement from the Beginning

In the case of an RFP, the client often contacts the subject matter expert too late – after determining a solution on their own. Or, they expect the expert to do all the work without giving anything in return, meaning there is no incentive for the former to study the problem at hand in detail.

Our approach addresses both of these issues. In the end, the client is the one who will decide what to choose, but our role is to help them from the beginning to understand what is possible while we take care of the technical work and identify gaps or loopholes from an unbiased perspective. By keeping us involved, you can enhance the project quality at all stages.

To get more details about the UX Studio approach, please reach out to us right now.

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