Do you have a love-hate relationship with the RFP (Request for Proposal) process? Does it elicit warm feelings that the acronym could also stand for “Reliable, Fair, Pleasant” process? Or is it more like “Really Freaking Painful?”
The RFP process began in the Government sector as a way of ensuring fairness to suppliers – all competing vendors get the same information and deadline requirements, evaluate proposals against stated criteria, and select the “winner” in a transparent, defensible way. Today the RFP process is used in most industry sectors, where organizations see it as a useful method to collect competing bids.
However, for many procurement professionals, bid management can be time consuming and labor-intensive. Processes are often manual, paper-based and inconsistent. Large volumes of information with multiple versions must be collected, coordinated and distributed. Vendors, both known and new, need to be evaluated and multiple stakeholders must work together.
Smart organizations know that the relationship with the RFP process can be fulfilling, productive and yes, even, satisfying. Below is our Relationship Guide which contains best practice advice on how to improve your bond with this sometimes misunderstood process.
Enough with the spreadsheets
If you are wondering why your procurement processes are slow, error-prone, and costly, it is probably because of the M-word – most RFP processes are manual. This results in inconsistent execution and vendor engagement, and potentially compliance risk. Moving your bid process online facilitates the efficient flow of work, while enabling the capture of KPIs and process metrics.
Automating workflows provides decision makers and management with real-time visibility into procurement operations and enables sound strategic decisions. Difficult-to-manage emails become a thing of the past by moving all vendor and buyer interactions and communications to a single, central portal.
According to global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, the most successful procurement leaders “are fully automated – with real-time access to data.” It’s the 21st century. It is time to automate and join the digital world.
Know your suppliers
Large organizations often interact with hundreds or thousands of vendors and partners. Sifting through corporate memory to identify the best vendor(s) to fulfill a particular requirement can be time and effort-consuming — if not impossible. Intelligent tools are needed to keep track of suppliers’ capabilities, as well as how well they have performed in the past. Choosing the wrong vendor can have a host of impacts ranging from delayed projects and bleeding budgets, to business disruptions and public relations nightmares.
A bid management solution with strong vendor management capabilities can ensure that all relevant vendors are included in the evaluation and that past vendor performance is taken into account when executing new procurements.
Follow the rules
Like in any relationship, there are rules. And if rules are broken sometimes someone gets hurt, usually in the form of a fine or reputational loss. In one extreme case a few years back, the Government of Canada was ordered to pay almost $30 million in lost profits to a losing bidder for intentionally favoring the incumbent.
There are numerous policies that govern sourcing activities. Organizations must ensure they spend money judiciously and eliminate waste; and in the case of government, protect against abuse of public dollars. According to the US Office of Management and Budget, more than one out of every six dollars of federal government spending goes to contractors, making it essential that all sourcing result in the best value for the taxpayer.
Legislation such as the US Federal Acquisition Regulation, Federal Accountability Act in Canada, and the Public Contracts Directive in Europe, mandate that business is conducted with integrity, fairness, and openness.
Protect the information
The RFP lifecycle generates many business records that must be managed. When processes are manual, there is no central repository for communication and collaboration between the numerous stakeholders, jeopardizing information integrity and efficiency. Choose a solution with a secure back-end system of record, enabling the indexing of documents for easy search, full audit trail of actions that have been taken, sophisticated access controls, and automated records retention and disposition. These features play a key role in demonstrating the trustworthiness of the bid process and protecting important records per regulatory requirements.
Rekindle the passion
In large organizations, an RFP can be worth millions of dollars to a supplier and represent a strategic effort for business, procurement and IT organizations. Business leaders want to know they are getting the best solution for their dollar, and suppliers want to compete fairly for the business. You don’t need to have a strained relationship with the RFP process. A strong bid management solution will make you look at the sourcing in a whole new way.
Introducing OpenText™ RFx Center
OpenText RFx Center is an application targeted at automating and improving the efficiency of bid management. Built on OpenText™ Process Suite with integrations into OpenText™ Content Server and OpenText™ Contract Center, RFx Center combines industry-leading process automation, content management, and contract functionality in a single solution.
- Automate RFP, RFQ, RFI, Framework, and sole source processes
- Enforce regulatory compliance and increase transparency though audit history and tracking of all procurement actions, documents, and artifacts
- Manage procurement documents in secure centralized content repository
- Empower business users to rapidly configure workflows and business rules with intuitive, easy to use interface – no coding required
- Improve efficiencies and integrity for all vendor and buyer interactions using a single, central portal – no more emailing documents
- Take advantage of powerful Analytics capabilities that provide deep insight into procurement performance
- Ensure fairness to vendors with increased internal auditability, visibility, and accountability
For more information on OpenText RFx Center, visit here.
To learn about more OpenText compliance solutions, visit here.