Busting RFP Myths

RFPs are making a comeback. Like bad 80s fashion, they’re everywhere. It’s an understandable phenomenon – times are tough and budgets are tight. Using an RFP and getting multiple quotes must be the best way to get the best deal, right?!?

Not necessarily! Let’s take a close look at the top three RFP myths:

Myth #1: I’ll get the best price if I put the project out to bid.

Reality: You can certainly choose the low bidder if you use an RFP as your qualifying method. But are you really getting the best price – defining “best” as “the best product for the best cost”? First, you run the risk of getting a poor product. Low-ball bids often carry that potential. Second, when the project is completed and the final invoice submitted, will you have, in fact, gotten the cheapest deal? The chances are about 50/50. Vendors with low initial bids frequently nickel-and-dime you to death as the project progresses. Consider the following seriously: are you focusing too much on price and not properly vetting the providers?

Myth #2: If I use an RFP I can easily compare bids.

Reality: While using an RFP will generally provide a basis for more similar proposals, there are often still vast differences in what each provider proposes, including the project approach, the technologies utilized, the specifics of what is and is not included in the cost, and what you will ultimately receive and pay. Plus, how you create, execute, and evaluate RFPs is incredibly important. If your process is flawed at any of these three points, your RFP will likely not produce the results you’re seeking.

Myth #3: Everyone who is serious about their project uses an RFP.

Reality: Not everyone uses an RFP to get project proposals. Think about it: why would you cast an RFP out for any vendor to bid on? An approach that is at least as common if not more common is to seek for personal referrals and testimonials, interview vendors one-on-one, and study their portfolio and process intensively. Sure, you may not be able to make a line-by-line comparison of the vendors you interview – but since an RFP doesn’t guarantee that anyway, you’re not losing anything … and you may be gaining everything!

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