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Failed RFPs are expensive. Here’s how to find better vendors.

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When you find yourself in a scenario where custom software is essential, you have three options:

  1. Develop the custom software in-house.
  2. Find a partner to handle the entire project.
  3. Partner with a vendor who integrates with your team.

This middleground of working closely with a vendor leads to writing an RFP and evaluating responses.

Why do RFPs fail?

Many RFP partnerships fail due to poor vendor selection or unclear project requirements and deliverables outlined. You may have even lost faith in the process of trusting partners altogether.

Consider that it might not be the RFP process that’s failing, but rather using outdated methods for evaluating your partners. After all, they’ve probably responded to enough RFPs that they’ve learned what you want to hear at the surface level.

Try these evaluation tactics to dig deeper and choose better partners.

1. Stop using price as a measure of quality.

We are trained to believe that price and quality is a linear relationship: the more you pay, the higher the quality and the less you pay, the lower the quality.

However, price is not exclusively tied to a company’s output. It’s also closely tied to internal efficiency and how streamlined internal processes may be.

A vendor who has found a highly efficient way to produce a quality product may have the same price as a company who cuts corners to produce a low quality product.

According to CIO.com, “The highest priced technology partners often spent longer amounts of time on the project, with too many unnecessary staff members and account managers. On the other hand, the lower end of the market often lacked the skill and technical ability to produce consistent quality.

Picking a technology partner is a completely different experience than shopping on Amazon. You cannot go to a vendor and simply pick the lowest price for the exact service you need. It can be a nuance-filled and complex process.”

For this reason, your perfect partner is likely in the middle ground of high and low price.

2. Rely on references over examples.

Most organizations like to see vendors’ examples of past work and testimonials to help them evaluate expertise. This may come in the form of case studies or quick client quotes.

The problem is, these are surface-level validators that can skim over some of the important nitty gritty. You’ll want to take a step further. Always ask for references to discover:

  • How the vendor handled issues that arose during the process
  • How the vendor performed in terms of budget and timeline
  • If the final product was satisfactory and truly provided business value

3. Look for a warranty.

Vendors who truly believe that their services will be satisfactory will offer some sort of guarantee. This may be in the form of month-to-month contracts, commitment to fixing bugs for free, or free work when a project exceeds budget.

4. Seek vendors with flexible processes.

You work in an organization that follows strict regulatory compliance. Decisions must go through careful approval processes and budgets are tight.

Is your vendor the same? What happens when two rigid organizations work together?

Look for a partner who can mold their development, deployment, project management, and billing processes to fit your organization’s standards.

Need help with custom software development?

Whether you need help defining business requirements, writing an RFP, or are in the stage of looking for vendors; we’d love to learn more and see how we can help! Get in touch for a free consultation.

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