Your company adopted a strategic sourcing process to save time and money. While RFPs in your strategic sourcing process should do both, RFP processes themselves are full of mismanaged time and resources.
Our team at Vendorful has compiled a list of 4 biggest time sucks in RFP processes, and how to solve them. We know (from personal experience!) the pain of manual purchasing processes. Here’s what you need to watch out for:
Communicating About the Process
Communication will always be a part of your strategic sourcing process, but communication about the process itself will often take longer than it should. When a sourcing process is executed with email and attachments, there is no “central bank of truth” where any one stakeholder can go to find the answers that they need. Instead, resources are scattered across inboxes and hidden in email chains. One type of communication that should never happen in this decade, is discussing document versions. Stakeholders should never have to question if ‘rfp-v2.1-latest.xlsx’ or ‘rfp-v2.1-latest-updated.xlsx’?” is the latest version. Instead, the entire team should be able to access the most current version of a document anywhere, and at any time.
You can solve this communication by using an RFP management solution that holds your documents in one easily accessible location. This allows your team and your potential vendors to know exactly where to look to find what they are looking for… and they never have to ask which version is current because the documents are updated instantly.
Not Communicating About the Process
“Wait… what?” That is correct, not communicating about the process can also cause serious damage to your RFP later on down the road. One of the critical purposes of an RFP is to add structure to your sourcing process. When used properly, it can save time and lead to better outcomes than using a less structured sourcing process. However, if your stakeholders don’t know exactly why they are creating the RFP, and exactly what they are looking for before they start, the consequences of that uncertainty will compound under a barrage of vendor communications. Up-front discussions about goals, criteria, and processes are going to save your team from miscommunication about the process, during the process. (Do we love the word “process” or what?!)
Not communicating about the process leads to
- Repeatedly revisiting assumptions
- Duplicating work among stakeholders
- Slow decision making by diffusing responsibility
- Over-scoping the purchase (buying an excavator when all you need is a shovel)
- Under-scoping the purchase (buying a shovel when you really do need an excavator)
- Inviting the wrong vendors
- Optimizing the wrong metrics (seeking the lowest price when you really need the highest reliability)
Using an RFP management solution that contains an RFP planner will allow your team to voice any uncertainties before they begin the process. Having everyone on the same page (literally) before you start your RFP will expedite the process and reduce the risk of bad purchases.
Managing email attachments across teammates is notoriously difficult, but even if you are just managing the attachments for one email account, you still have to be able to make the connection between attachments, versions, vendors, and needs. If you can’t pull up the right attachment when you need to refer to a certain question of your RFP, then you are wasting time hunting through the bottomless mess of emails. Even if you remove internal email from the equation, the attachment math is daunting. Imagine a 100-question RFP that is sent to eight suppliers, each of whom includes five attachments to accompany the questionnaire response. Each person on your team who is tasked with scoring the responses now has to juggle fifty attachments, associating them with the pertinent replies, of which there are 800. When confront with this, you’ll note that — all of a sudden — cleaning up your desk has surprisingly become an appealing way to spend the next few hours…
By using the in-browser messaging system of an RFP management solution, you can’t lose something in an email chain. All of the documents you need will be housed in a central data bank so you can access what you need, when you need it.
Questions Within Context
Try as you might, you’re probably not going to write the perfect RFP. Invariably, there will be questions that come back from suppliers — questions about your questions. When you’re lucky, the suppliers send you at least a snippet of context along with every question they ask, but if they don’t, you have to spend your day hunting through documents to figure out exactly what they are referencing. Every time that you get a question from a supplier without context, your time is being sucked away by yet another search through what might be reams of documentation.
Contextual questions should be a part of any good RFP management solution. This means when a vendor has a question about something in the RFP, the context for the question that is being asked should present itself automatically, as if by magic. You should not have to spend your days digging through your own RFP to be able to answer a vendor’s question. And what happens when you can’t find what you’re looking for? More emails. Help your vendors break the cycle, but giving them the ability to tie their questions directly to the context so that you can see both, side-by-side.
Get That Time Back
Vendorful’s RFP management solution can crush these time sucks without a second thought. With contextual questions, RFP planners, document organization, and seamless communication, Vendorful can cut out one of the largest expenses for your sourcing event — your time.
If you want to see how our solution can specifically save you time, click here.