4). Give Suppliers the Correct Answer—We should actually tell the supplier what the correct answer should be. This doesn’t apply to all questions because that would be seen as leading the suppliers. Where I typically apply this logic is for the key terms and conditions section of the RFP. I want the suppliers to know what I want. This saves time in the negotiations and helps identify the best of the best suppliers.
5). Explain the Questions—The best practice is to always explain the questions as well as certain answers on occasions. This will help drive better supplier responses and eliminate the need for clarifications down the road. This also clarifies exactly what you are looking for and eliminates the need to answer questions on this topic during the RFP process.
6). Mix Question Types—It is quite common to see the “old school” RFPs containing the single type of question/response combination, “Yes/No, Please Explain.” This type of question ends up becoming very subjective and at times hard to score during the evaluation phase.
Instead, a nice mix of autoscored and judged questions is critical to the success of the RFP process. It’s also beneficial to mix in the types of autoscored questions. Mix in “Yes/No” (for mandatory qualifiers), “Multiple Choice/Single Answer,” “Multiple Choice/Multiple Answer” and “Numeric” questions.
Not only does mixing in different question types deliver variety, it also proves to deliver better supplier responses that can eliminate the amount of time judging each response.
7). One Question Per Question—Asking one question per question sounds quite simple but is not as easy to practice. Often clients will offer a question that asks so many sub questions that suppliers get confused and do not answer properly. Only answer the question(s) that make them look the best.
8). Use Question Libraries—Question libraries offer some of the best ways to deliver efficiency, consistency and overall best practice. It takes time to build a full library but from day one, you should be adding to the list.
Review each of the RFPs as they go out. When you see questions that are best practice, add them to the library and group them with like questions. Best practice your questions before sending out the RFP. Then import or add the questions to the appropriate buckets.
Achieve expected results
Using these simple best practices can net you significant amounts of efficiency, time savings and overall consistency as it relates to your RFPs. While some of this may actually require a decent amount of work on the front end, the overall effort will be worth it—I guarantee it.
Bill King is Director at BravoSolution, Chicago, a spend analysis company which provides supply chain organizations with software and services solutions.