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Toward Higher Impact RFPs

Last updated August 29th, 2018. First published

Key Points

  • A clear vision, attempting to maximize impact, and ensuring the RFP is implementable are key.
  • Don't submit RFPs with diffuse laundry lists of requests.
Related resource
Is your digital RFP ready? | Be prepared for your RFP

Most RFPs are atrocious

Most RFPs are pretty terrible. Your potential partners know this since they see so many that they are forced to respond to. Three of the most problematic issues are:

Put another way, most RFPs have the uncomfortable combination of both not really being clear about what you want big picture yet being very specific about lots of little things that don’t really matter. Note that this also means that potential partners may be forced to cherry pick responding in detail to those aspects they most understand (or that they know how to implement) only to ignore what needs to happen to accomplish your business goals.

Shouldn’t we avoid RFPs entirely?

Perhaps this would be an option for very small requests and if what are requesting is exactly what your partner has implemented in the past. But most of the time, when looking at big changes, the commitment is high enough that evaluating multiple bids makes sense.

Higher impact RFPs

Higher impact RFPs define a strong vision, are defined in a way to maximize impact, are implementable, encourage clarity with the vendor, set expectations of what the vendor’s responsibilities are, is sent to a targeted content list, and then of course lists industry standard requirements (such as being responsive) and any legal requirements. They do not rely heavily (if at all) on checklists.

Move toward higher impact RFPs

Perhaps the three most important aspects (that are also difficult to get right) are:

Just say no to scoring for selection

Selecting your implementation partner isn’t a game. You are looking for the best fit and this is a balance of variety of factors, not an average score with false precision.

Is your digital RFP ready? Be prepared for your RFP