5 Reasons Why IT Requests for Proposal (RFPs) Slow Down Procurement
When it comes to the IT industry, requests for proposal (RFPs) response process can turn into a drag, keeping the organisation from evolving and staying relevant as technology develops. Why is this happening? Well, the answer is relatively easy.
IT RFPs require strong collaboration
Proposal managers are heavily reliant on the expertise of several subject matter experts to complete the request for proposal responses: finance, legal, sales, or even product specialists, but also IT colleagues. And that’s not all.
We’ve observed a new trend for RFPs: more and more questions related to security. Before committing to a vendor partnership, an organisation must take all the necessary measures to make sure that the solution they’re purchasing is secure.
In most cases, the RFP manager is counting on the IT department to provide security knowledge, this being a real collaborative effort, but also one of the challenges proposal managers face.
A few years ago, when the technology to support collaboration was not that widespread, manual processes were used, but fortunately, we have more automated options available nowadays, making IT RFPs easier to deal with.
According to a report from KCOM, conducted after carrying out an examination of the RFPs received over the past two years for IT projects, just 14% of RFPs were actually the result of a collaboration between the IT department and the wider organisation.
Furthermore, just 30% of RFPs focused on consumer projects required information on how the IT project would improve the overall customer experience, with the remainder focusing solely on IT metrics instead. Let’s take a close look at why IT RFPs are slowing down procurement.
1. A big part of IT RFPs are created in the so-called ‘IT isolation’
The above-mentioned KCOM published an analysis which revealed that the most majority of requests for proposal (RFPs) in the industry were created in ‘IT isolation’, with measures of success being focused on IT, rather than on broader business or customer outcomes. This happened even when the project objectives were clear: improve customer experience or service delivery.
Combining this with a common failure to encourage technology providers to come up with innovative solutions, KCOM reached one conclusion: there’s a big need for an overhaul when it comes to the traditional approach to enterprise technology projects.
2. Traditional RFPs are time-consuming and contain errors
According to GovQuote, despite being the standard for a wide range of purchasing needs in IT, RFPs are far from being the best choice. Why? Obviously, because they consume a lot of time – taking even up to 6 months – but also because they are prone to errors, miscommunication, as well as other delays that slow the process down to a crawl.
The main cause of this is very simple to explain: most organizations do everything manually, without relying on an automation software. The latter is able to speed up things seriously, not to mention that it doesn’t make mistakes.
3. Maintaining a workflow can be a real challenge
In most cases, employees working with a customer on the frontline of sales also receive the initial RFP. Should they respond to some questions? Not necessarily.
Generally speaking, the sales department knows the product, as well as what the company does, but they can’t go into details as deep as subject matter experts can. And this is where the big disconnect between the frontline and backend of a business can come from.
Making tweaks to the workflow and automating the RFP response process can help with this issue. Figuring out a detailed workflow that makes sense for your organisation and making sure that everybody knows their role in the RFP process can seriously speed up procurement.
4. Collaboration is key
During the RFP response process, all team members should constantly communicate. Still, streamlining efforts in this direction can be a substantial obstacle, because some team members can pass on responding to RFPs in favour of other current projects.
Some would even argue that IT RFPs should become a thing of the past, because the RFP response process is so long and tedious. Getting everybody on the same page and contributing with materials in a common knowledge base will surely speed things up.
5. Security is still an issue
Nowadays, a lot of companies have major security concerns, especially when it comes to products in the cloud. SaaS companies, for example, are required to respond to all incoming security questions, as well as full-on security questionnaires sometimes.
These questionnaires can be a major setback for software companies, since many repetitive questions have to be answered quickly. As a consequence, the quality of the responses can influence how a prospect views your product. Since not all team members are able to answer highly technical questions, the entire responsibility falls on subject-matter experts from the IT department.
There are several reasons contributing to IT requests for proposal (RFPs) slowing down procurement. Still, there is a simple solution that can remedy that: content.
As you gather more and more responses to IT-related questions, the information should be captured, stored, and managed within an online knowledge library. This is where RFP automation software comes in, featuring a content library where you can store information and use it as a starting point for every new IT RFP response process.