Did You Even Read the RFP?!

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

In my last article, I looked at what needs to go into writing an RFP and the work that a procuring organization needs to complete to ensure that the RFP that they issue is capable of achieving their goals. This time, I would like to look at the RFP process from the other perspective--the potential vendor who responds. An RFP response is more than just a proposal to supply products and/or services; in many cases it is an opportunity to showcase a potential vendor to the procuring organization, and as the saying goes: “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”

It’s therefore slightly surprising to me just how bad some RFP responses are. When I see a response that so dramatically misses the mark of what is asked for, it doesn’t just exclude the vendor from consideration for that contract, it raises doubts about the quality of their work in general. That may not be completely fair, but it’s an understandable reaction --one that can be hard to shake off. In this article, I want to flag some of the things that vendors should be considering when replying to an RFP.

The initial sanity check
It can be tempting to try and respond to every RFP that you see, especially if it has been sent specifically to you rather than published for public consumption. In the current economic climate, that temptation can be even more difficult to …

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"Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard of no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

- William Shakespeare