Many people see the request for proposal (RFP) process as overly complex and time-consuming, and one of the biggest drains on resources for the procurement team. It’s true that RFPs can be arduous—especially for complex sourcing needs like specialized technology spends or sophisticated manufacturing orders.
Even if they think there’s room for improvement, procurement teams are often hesitant to make changes to their RFP processes, fearing they could make things worse.
Yet there is a host of new technology now available that can totally transform your RFPs, ridding you of many of the traditional pain points. By adding automation to repetitive tasks and data entry, and by integrating RFPs tools with your existing procurement systems, you can dramatically improve the results of your sourcing efforts. Streamlining your RFP process will solve many of the headaches your team experiences with every request for proposal. It’s time to embrace some change.
What is an RFP process?
The RFP process is the steps your team must take to formulate, disseminate, collect, and analyze a request for proposal. RFPs tell prospective suppliers what product or service you want to purchase. They communicate your needs and expectations so that vendors can pitch their ability to meet your needs. There are seven broad RFP process steps:
- Gathering your requirements
- Writing your RFP
- Making the initial evaluation
- Communicating with shortlisted suppliers
- Collaborating with internal & external stakeholders
- Determining your selection
- Contracting the selected vendor
Each of these activities is a time-consuming and labor-intensive task, often requiring a considerable amount of manual effort by multiple members of the procurement team. From identifying the initial need to building the requests. From collaborating with stakeholders in your organization, to reaching out to potential vendors and explaining your needs. From managing and consolidating vendor responses, to identifying the best fit bid. Each activity requires care and attention. Because of this, many procurement teams are stretched to their limits. As a result, typically they will only conduct 20 RFPs a year, accounting for just 20% of annual spend. And each RFP is treated as if it is a unique process that cannot be replicated.
The tools used to create them sit apart from the rest of the procurement toolkit. Yet this does not have to be the case. RFP tools can be used to great effect much more widely—not just for complex sourcing requirements. And they can be integrated into your wider procurement toolkit, adding value and providing insight and efficiencies throughout the department.
5 benefits of a streamlined RFP process
When you streamline your RFP process and use best practices, there are many benefits for your team and your organization. Here are five of the big ones:
1. More RFPs
Even though they can be a pain to do, everybody knows that RFPs are valuable tools that can help the procurement team make better sourcing decisions. But when the process is time-consuming, you can only do a few RFPs a year. If you can improve your request for proposal flow and your RFP response processes, then you’ll be able to fit in more RFPs. So, how do you set yourself up to handle more RFPs? Put efficiency first and eliminate manual efforts. Cut the average sourcing time in half by automating many of the menial tasks.
2. More competitive bids
Minimizing the time it takes to do RFPs means you can fit more into your schedule. Increasing the number of RFPs you can do widens the net on prospective suppliers. More suppliers means more competition in your bid process. And that leads to more control over your spend.
3. Fewer errors
Removing the human hand from menial or data-heavy tasks, is a proven way of removing the risk of error. And it also means that your team members can turn their minds to more interesting—and value-adding—activities. Here are just a few of the RFP tasks that can be automated:
- Pulling data from other integrated systems—like your CRM and ERP—to load component information into the RFP
- Vendor profile reviewing and updating
- RFP progress tracking along the lifecycle of the event
- Notifying stakeholders they need to perform important tasks in the RFP process
- Proposal scoring calculation and measurement
- Analysis of vendor evaluations based on set criteria
- Obtaining pricing tables for bid comparisons
4. Handle a wider variety of sourcing events
RFPs don’t have to be just for complex sourcing events. When the RFP process is simple and automated, it can bring its value to a wider range of purchases.
5. Integrated processes
Top of the list for RFP process best practices is integrating your RFP process with the rest of your procurement systems. And this brings a host of benefits to your team. It adds value to the technology you’re already using, and it means you can use your procurement data in new and insightful ways.
So, how can organizations start streamlining their RFP process?
Streamline your RFP process
Fairmarkit’s RFP tool lets you realize all these benefits—and more. It allows you to make your RFP process more efficient, thereby improving the bids you are receiving and increasing your ability to conduct RFPs. But it also links seamlessly with other procurement tools—helping you unify all your sourcing events in one view and adding value and insights across the entire procurement process.
Combining Fairmarkit’s RFQ and RFP capabilities into a consolidated platform provides procurement teams with a central source of information on all their sourcing activity. With the structured reports and smart sharing of procurement data, your procurement team can have much greater visibility into your organization’s spend activity.
Fairmarkit’s template capabilities allow you to put efficiency first. Templates are a great way to save time because they remove the manual effort of creating commonly run RFPs from scratch. If you do find yourself creating manual RFPs, invite team members via Fairmarkit’s collaboration tools to make the process more efficient. By inviting other members of your organization to participate in building an RFP, you can have more sets of eyes on the event to reduce error.
Lastly, you and your team can complete scoring and evaluation right in Fairmarkit. You’ll be able to assign section weighting, invite evaluators to score the entire RFP or specific sections, and more. At the end of the scoring period, you’ll see all responses in a consolidated view with the winners automatically ranked - which will easily allow you to complete evaluation & award your RFP with confidence.
A streamlined RFP process with autonomous sourcing helps you secure better, more competitive bids, reduce the manual effort required by the procurement process, and expand your sourcing events to help your business grow. Tools like Fairmarkit’s new RFP module can add automation into your RFP process flow and work with your existing systems to make life easy. To learn more, check out Fairmarkit’s blog, The Source.