Most organizations use of an RFP is to establish whether a vendor has a viable solution, to differentiate those solutions and to select those that offer then most value. Unfortunately, none of these is likely to be achieved. Here’s why.
To establish whether the vendor has a viable solution.
Most vendors will answer ‘yes’ to most if not all the questions posed on functionality, after all they do not want to be excluded from the sales process at this early stage. And besides, whether a product has ‘Top-down spreading’ can be easily interpreted by a vendor to mean many things including capabilities that, at a push, could be called ‘top-down spreading’. The result is that providing a ‘tick’ in a box is not an indication that the vendor has understood the purpose behind the function and similarly the customer has not found out whether the functional solution being proposed is workable in practice.
To differentiate between vendor solutions
Because of the above, potential customers won’t be able to tell the real difference between vendors. It’s a bit like selecting a car based on its functional capabilities – does it have central locking, 4 wheel drive, how much power does it have, etc. Answering ‘Yes’ to each of these functional capabilities will not tell you whether they are truly integrated and work as a whole, or whether the vehicle has been designed, built and is capable of delivering you and your passengers to your intended destinations. For example, most 4 wheel-drive ‘off-road’ vehicles look the part but are unlikely to take you across the Sahara desert. The only differentiation that’s established is how the vendors score themselves against their perceived understanding of the evaluation criteria.
To ensure value for money
Today’s software market for performance management is quite mature with software fast becoming a commodity. There are many products on the market with similar capabilities and good referencable clients. So what it boils down to is which vendor has the most for the least amount of money – that has to be the best deal? Well not necessarily. If those functions cannot be configured in a way that meets the customer’s real needs, then no amount of discounting makes them cost effective. Price is only valid when its first establish how those functions work together to deliver the intended benefits. And most RFP’s don’t ask those questions.
If you’re interested we have created a white paper titled “Challenging the RFP: The questions you really need to ask”. You can download it from here.