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Whether you love them or hate them, RFPs are still an essential part of the purchasing process for many procurement practitioners. Regardless of how you feel about them, it is imperative that you write an RFP that clearly communicates your needs. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, as evidenced by the many pitfalls that procurement professionals encounter when writing an RFP. Let’s look at three mistakes to avoid when writing an RFP.

1. Determining the Solution in the RFP

Too often, procurement departments set the scope of their requirements to what they’ve always done, with the hope of getting better quality at a lower price.

But these days, innovation is the name of the game. While you should accurately describe what you need and what problems you face, you should also leave room for suppliers to provide their best solutions to your needs. This allows them to leverage their processes, technology and innovative thinking. In turn, it provides you greater insight into the changes and innovation happening within your market and how that can influence your operations.

2. Asking Questions Already Answered

Don’t waste time by asking questions you should already have the answer to. Many basic questions can easily be answered by the supplier’s website. When you include them in an RFP, it can indicate a lack of preparation on your part, which can dissuade vendors from responding.

To make the most effective use of your RFPs, it’s better to do some up-front research on the potential list of companies to answer those immediate questions and to ensure that a supplier seems like a good match. Then, send the RFP to suppliers you feel can best meet your needs. Don’t send out an RFP to too many potential suppliers, as you’ll receive a ton of RFP responses that you won’t be able to fully consider, thus wasting resources and potentially missing some great responses.

3. Using the “Cookie-Cutter” Approach

Templates are great and certainly have their place in business operations. However, this is not the case with RFPs. To create the most effective RFP, it’s best to customize it according to the product or service you are procuring. Creating an RFP specific to your needs, as opposed to using the “find and replace” function in an RFP template, ensures that there are no mistakes in the RFP. It also ensures that the document won’t include irrelevant information that could mislead or confuse potential vendors.

There you have it, three mistakes you must avoid when writing an RFP. They may seem obvious, but they creep into RFPs on a consistent enough basis to warrant some discussion.

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