An RFP is not a Request For Propaganda

I get it. Responding to an organisation’s Request For Proposal (RFP) is not everyone’s favorite way to spend time. After all, first you need to read and understand the requirements described in the RFP to begin with, then figure out whether your organization has something to offer in this field, whether necessary personnel is available, come up with competitive pricing, and when that’s all done, write it all up in a comprehensive proposal that stands out from the rest. And all of that well knowing that it may be a total waste of time, if another provider is selected. It’s tough to be a vendor sometimes.

roosterI am currently involved in an RFP for what can be considered an  end-to-end BI implementation, from data integration and data quality to the data warehouse, its data model,  and finally various BI front-ends. Almost a green field approach, which is kinda rare these days.

So after carefully developing the requirements list and turning it into a concise RFP, it’s now the time to review the responses from about 10 solution providers, some of which are global organisations, others smaller and more locally operating vendors. And it became very clear that the size of the organization is no indication for the quality of the response. Similarly, a vendor’s grand reputation can be at a stark contrast to a very sloppy proposal from the same company. Sometimes it seems as if the vendor isn’t even interested in the engagement. So why respond at all then?

However, what gets me real mad is when a vendor sends a 50 page proposal from which 40 pages are pure propaganda, five pages are boilerplate stuff, and another five pages interesting content about the topic at hand. If I want to read a vendor’s marketing blurb, I’ll go and visit their website. But when I want to learn about a vendor’s approach, capabilities, pricing, skills, etc., they should better spare me the slogans. After all, we didn’t just pull their name out of thin air, but thoroughly  research them before inviting them to the RFP in the first place.  So there is little need for a standard marketing pitch.