RFPs are often process gone wild

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

5 August 2010

RFPs are often process gone wild

One of the many hurdles we run into at Stealing Share is companies being more process-driven than they imagine. There are reasons, of course, why companies are like that, mostly related to quality control and even old-fashioned fear. Process demands accountability and provides comfort.

But it can also prevent innovation and successful results. It’s valuing process over purpose.

Nowhere do we come across this more often than in responding to RFPs. We have been the winning firm in responding to several RFPs, but we also begin the work by throwing much of the process listed in them right out the window.

ProcessWe do that for a simple reason: The RFP suggests the company has figured out the problem and has pre-defined goals without even knowing if they are valued in the market.

Otherwise, it’s like saying, “Here’s how you make the best sushi roll” without knowing if anyone likes sushi.

RFPs get even more overly process-driven during the selection stage. Instead of deciding who can fix the problem, there is often a series of criteria where a committee – often one without any skin in the game – awards a points system or percentages to come up with the winner.

How silly is that? Like finding the right partner to fix a problem is something that can be quantified? Or, better yet, that you can be excluded for having the solution because the response format wasn’t followed exactly or the suppositions in the RFP are wrong and other solutions are instead offered?

This isn’t sour grapes here. We’ve learned how to handle RFPs, but many RFPs tell you right away the first problem the company is facing: Process gone mad.

A better way is to invite a few carefully selected firms – whether we’re talking about brand firms or firms in any other industry – without any pre-conceived notions of how the problem gets solved.

Identify the purpose. Not the process.

See more posts in the following related categories: Brand RFP Branding RFPs

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