Paving the road to a great RFP-process

In November I am running a workshop on RFP-processes at the The Digital Experience Summit in Chicago. I am currently preparing my presentation which is a nice opportunity to look back on my recent experiences within this area.

This year I’ve had the privilege to advice a couple of different organizations looking for an Agency to implement a new CMS. Many of those are subjected to follow the Public Procurement Directive for EU. This influences the selection process and has led me to think in depth about the selection criteria that are relevant to most organizations looking for a new partner and solution.

The purpose of Public Procurement directives are mainly to make sure that public organization gets the highest possible value for the money the spend and that the selection process is fair to the bidders. There can’t be favoritism and winner has to win on equal terms with the losers. This all sounds logical, but often you will have to prioritise between your own requirements again before you can decide who is the right pick to build the solution. Meanwhile it is rare that proposals are that easily comparable, even on the “standard” stuff.

This means that you have to think carefully about how you can follow the rules, be fair and still get to choose the proposal that is the best fit for your project.

Different ways to select a new implementation partner

EU’s Public Procurement Directive allows organisations different possible processes for selection. You can tender with a round where interested bidders can submit an application to pre-qualified or include a round of negotiation after the final proposals have been received. Every method has its strengths and weaknesses but in many cases the choice of approach isn’t governed by the nature of the project as much as the resources available to run the process.

Typical resource factors that influence the choice of methodology:

  • A tight deadline limits the available time to negotiate and back look on questions and follow up information

  • Limited access to legal council restricts the options

  • The team lacks time and/or experience to go a certain way

Prepare well

To get the best result from your RFP and selection process you need to think carefully about how you spend your time and what you will invest in the relationship with a new implementation partner. In most cases you also have a lot of questions in order to be able to write a relevant RFP. 

This is equally important whether you have be compliant with EU’s public sector directives or some other internal standards so I think there will be something for everyone.

If you have a topic you are specifically interested in, let me know and we can add it to the list.