An Alternative RFPs

October 07 2016

Last time we talked about how RFPs actually harm more than help the bidding process when it comes to creatives. We weren’t shy about it. But that’s because we know the RFP process is not only unfair, it hurts the quality of work a business receives from a contractor. And this is true in more than just software and web design.

So how exactly do you determine who will do the best work?

First, recognize there isn’t an easy way to success. The creative process takes time and effort, and most of that time and effort is spent planning. Here’s a step-by-step guide for getting the right team for the right solution for you.

Step 1: Set goals.

One of the major weaknesses of RFPs is the necessity of developing solutions before you’ve even spoken to the experts.

Instead of predetermining what you want the contractor to do, figure out what you want the solution to accomplish. You may think you want a blog, because everyone else has a blog, right? Not necessarily.

Blogs are helpful for content development, customer engagement, establishing reputation and expertise, social media marketing, etc.. But they may not be the best method of achieving one or all of those for your company targeting your audience.  So instead of saying you want a blog, tell your developers what your end goal is and they will help find the best solution.

Some questions to consider when determining your goals:

  • What do you want this work to accomplish?
  • What are the problems you want to eliminate or alleviate?
  • What are the strengths you wish to enterprise?
  • Who is your target audience (could be consumers, but could also be employees)?
  • What exactly do you want your audience to do, from point of sale backwards?
  • What image do you want to project?

Once you’ve determined what your goals are, you are ready to talk to contractors about the solutions they can provide.

Step 2: Research potential vendors.

To do this right, it’s going to take time.

Gather references from people you know have seen success with their products, but branch out to other companies, too. If you have specific goals, it’s easier to narrow down the companies who specialize in what you need.

What to look for in potential vendors:

  • Their portfolio The best (especially in web development) should have a thorough and varied portfolio with specific projects for your industry, goals, and business size. And don’t be fooled by pretty pictures and vague details. They should be explicit about the challenges, their solutions, and the results.
  • Their resources What staff does the company have? What do they outsource and to whom? We’ve recently grown, so we have a multi-talented staff, but there have been times when we relied on subcontractors and sometimes still do (photographers, videographers, copywriters, etc.). BUT we outsource to people we know are talented. Some companies will have limited resources, acting more as a project manager. Find out what resources the contractor has, what they outsource, and to whom they outsource.
  • The way they work You should find a contractor who will research, test, collaborate, etc. But there are also elements of their way of doing business that work better with you. Be honest about your preferences, and make sure the contractor can and will accommodate you.

Step 3: Get to know the contractor.

You don’t want to jump into marriage because a dating service says you’re compatible, so don’t contract with strangers, either. When you contract with a company to improve your business, you are building a relationship.

Set a meeting with each vendor and give them opportunity to ask questions and find out exactly what your goals and objectives are. (You can tell a lot about a company by the questions they ask.) You’ll get a better idea of how they can help you meet your goals, but if they’re good, they’ll help you better refine your goals.

Step 4: Repeat research.

After meeting with development companies, you’re going to have a much better idea of what to look for. Go back and reassess your options to see who has the best solutions, follow-through, and success.

Step 5: If Necessary, Develop an RFP.

If you still want to issue an RFP, you are in a much better place to do so. You can better organize your goals and specific solutions. But be careful about stealing ideas from one company to give to another company. Chances are, if one company recommended a specific solution, they better understand how to use that solution.

Confession

Part of why we encourage businesses to skip the RFP and use this alternative process is because we know we will win. When you meet with us, we will help you fine tune your goals and develop strategic solutions for your company. At the very least, we will set the bar for your search. But it’s likely you won’t be satisfied with anyone less than the best.

Give us a call and let’s get started.