Project Management

The Problems with RFPs (Part 1)

PMI Northern Alberta Chapter

Craig is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and has worked with for the last six years developing the various HEADWAY processes (Project, Change and Portfolio). He has hosted a series of webinars and is a business intelligence subject matter expert.

Project managers are often in the unenviable position of writing and releasing Request for Proposals (RFPs) to acquire products or services from outside vendors. For a number of years, I have been on the receiving end of those RFPs because I worked as a vendor for a consulting company. While I didn’t have to write the RFPs, I had to read them and attempt to understand the products or services the customers were looking for.

The challenges and the frustrations were many. Imagine reading through a 30-page document and at the end having one overwhelming thought akin to “Huh?” Sound familiar? This two-part article is my attempt to provide you with some insight into some of the most frustrating aspects that vendors experience when they attempt to decipher the hieroglyphics found in the proposal documents sitting in front of them. The first article will focus on the content of the RFP, while the second article will examine the procurement process.

Confusing Document
Carrying on with the above “Huh?” moment, think about the last time you read a document that left you puzzled, confused and frustrated. Maybe it was a report you were asked to proof, a proposal written by a colleague or your child’s essay for school. It may not have been an altogether happy experience--and could have been much different if the document had simply been …

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If you can't convince them, confuse them.

- Harry Truman