After you have written an RFP and identified a short list of potential suppliers, now you need to issue the solicitation for them to respond. Here you're triggering a more formal process, and you'll want to follow best practices, but remain authentic and agile as we've been counseling all along.
Steps in this phase include obtaining signed NDAs, setting expectations, answering vendor questions, and highlighting key deadlines. Make sure here as elsewhere that you don't favor any individual bidders in your communications and approach.
Use this time to assess how bidders interact with you. How they behave in a sales process may not be a completely accurate barometer of future relations after a contract is signed, but you may learn about their overall culture and approach in ways that can and should affect your decision-making.
- Let suppliers know in advance that they have been short-listed and to expect the RFP/Tender on a particular date
- Confirm that you have selected them specially after conducting significant research
- Ask bidders to sign an NDA and then later an "Intent to Respond" so that you can anticipate the volume of proposals
- Make sure to communicate that you will not entertain any oral questions (unless you decided to take that risk)
- Be firm but friendly (never arrogant) in all communications
- Do not socialize with vendor reps after issuing the RFP
- Set aside a day of uninterrupted time to answer their questions
- Collate, anonymize, and share questions and your answers with all the bidders
- You do not need to answer every question, but you should answer as many as you can; remain polite and open-minded in your responses
- For more complex technologies or projects, consider inviting a second round of follow-up questions, but in any event, make sure that your schedule supports this
- If you are considering open source options and lack a single vendor to respond, find a local integration partner who knows that platform very well
If you have a technology selection project that has gone off the rails or is languishing, let me know. It's almost never too late for a rescue...
Other Posts in This Series
- Tip #1: Articulate a Solid Business Case
- Tip #2: Build the Right Team
- Tip #3: Setting the Right Business Foundations
- Tip #4: Capture Requirements That Don't Suck
- Tip #5: User Stories Are Everything
- Tip #6: Ask Questions That Really Matter
- Tip #7: Find More Than the Usual Suspects
- Tip #8: Target the Right Suppliers
- Tip #9: How to Engage Vendors
- Tip #10: Create RFPs That Actually Work
- Tip #11: Keeping It Real with Bidders
- Tip #12: Evaluate Proposals Critically
- Tip #13: Hold Demos on Your Own Terms
- Tip #14: Run Competitive Bake-Offs
- Tip #15: Negotiate Like a Pro
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