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RFPs: The Seven Deadly Sins that Confuse Your Suppliers and Drag Down Results

October 15, 2014 by Hillary Ohlmann

RFP Issues

Take a moment to review your RFP process. Are you unhappy with the number of bids you receive per proposal? Do you waste valuable time responding to the same questions over and over from suppliers?

 If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, you might be committing one of the seven sins of procurement. Even committing just one of these sins could negatively affect the outcomes of your procurement process, costing you both time and money.

The seven deadly sins:

Sin #1: Too many questions

RFPs guilty of this deadly sin ask question after question. Suppliers get frustrated before getting to the end and leave your RFP sitting unfinished in the recycling bin.

Sin #2: Too many variables

An RFP asking for quotes for every variable under the sun is an RFP that’s nearly impossible to complete honestly. Too many variables also makes it hard to summarize and compare bids once they’re received.

Sin #3: Too many pricing options

This sin is similar to the sin of too many variables. Prices will fluctuate, and the best you can ask for is an honest estimate based on past experiences and current market conditions. Asking for price points for every possible situation will drive your suppliers to madness.

Sin #4: Missing key information

This is a great sin of omission. If your RFP commits sin #4, you will find your procurement department fielding multiple phone calls and emails asking the same questions. If only you had included the essential information, you wouldn’t be wasting time responding to the same questions over and over.

Sin #5: Too general

While it might be tempting to commit sin #5 by creating a generic RFP that you can send out for a variety of materials or services, don’t do it. Generic RFPs won’t get you the specific information you need to compare bids accurately and choose the best materials or services for the job.

Sin #6: Poor product specifications

This sin will leave your suppliers confused. If you haven’t properly reviewed your product specifications, you’ll find yourself field countless phone calls and emails. Like sin #4, you waste time answering questions that could have been avoided by providing accurate information from the get-go.

Sin #7: The unforgivable sin

The one truly unforgivable sin of RFPs? Sloppiness. This involves making horrible mistakes, such as leaving an incumbent’s name or even the current price on the product specs. The only way to avoid this deadly sin? Take the time to carefully review every RFP or use an e-procurement platform to keep everything organized.

The path to righteousness

If you’ve found yourself to be guilty of one or more of these seven deadly sins, it’s not too late. Try investing in an easy-to-use e-procurement platform to help you get your RFP process under control. A user-friendly layout will help you avoid these RFPs sins and place your procurement department on the path of RFP angelic goodness.


download free guide to mastering the rfp process

Hillary Ohlmann

Written by Hillary Ohlmann

Hillary is DeltaBid's resident writer, copy editor, researcher, and all-around procurement enthusiast. She holds a degree in Journalism and Spanish from UW-Madison.


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