By: Anne Farro and Ellen Jones
PAICR Board Members and 2018 RFP Symposium co-chairs.
Welcome to the second installment of our round-up from May’s RFP Symposium, in which we share random observations that we wish someone had shared with us when we were coming along in our careers.
For those of you who missed out on the Symposium, or would simply welcome a refresh of what was discussed, you can now do a full catch-up by binge-reading Parts 1 and 2 back-to-back. Happy reading!
RFP 101 | Random Observations (Part 2)
Quality Control (QC)
This should be a separate and disciplined step apart from finishing the answers to the questions.
- Use a checklist of items for verification– first by the writer and then a peer or manager. Check everything from footnote references, to trademark symbols, formatting, and disclosures, and search for words that give compliance heartache (“unique”, always, you will make a million dollars).
- And let the QC results live as a part of your documentation. Again, you will find this is a boon in an internal audit.
The RFP Process: Get it right the first time
Many firms try and get a draft out fast. We say “get the draft out right!” When you begin to excuse poor document quality on workload or turnaround time, you have a problem with your process or staffing model.
- RFP writers should be accountable for the quality of their drafts (consider implementing a QC before the draft goes out and keep metrics). No one has time to correct a lot of errors caused by rushing or just filling a hole in a document.
- Poor quality drafts are a drag on the RFP team’s reputation and generally cause increased workload for everyone involved in the process, which makes the process unenjoyable. Be the smart team!
Internal Customer Experience
Try and create consistency amongst everyone on the team.
- Do not allow a writer to pull the “RFP martyr” fast one. The minute one writer is willing to put out another draft at 3 am (because the sales officer didn’t get changes back by the deadline), or is willing to work all weekend and call SMEs on their cell phones, your team’s process is shot. Now, this feels the opposite of good customer service, right? Chalk this one up to the team’s customer experience consistency. It makes everyone’s life predictable.
- Create email templates for research, draft communications and RFP submission. This is a difficult thing, but it unites a team.
Metrics and Measures: What to capture
- Through-put is not an effective measure of how well an RFP process works. But, win-rates aren’t exactly fair either.
- Measure what the RFP team can control – volume, quality, timeliness (don’t you set dates and timelines for all stages of the process?), SME and Sales input, and content management.
Speaking of Content Management
Do you have a dedicated RFP database manager? Not many firms do this well “on the fly” or when writers have time to go and mine/update content from recent RFPs.
- Mostly, you find these teams writing out of their RFP library – DO NOT WRITE OUT OF YOUR RFP LIBRARY.
- Every piece of content should have an SME attached to it. The RFP team cannot be one of its own SMEs.
- You need established and documented verification cycles.
- Make sure you keep any and all approvals and changes.
OK – It’s a wrap! But don’t forget what you’ve learned. And better still try out some of the recommendations.