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Writing RFIs, RFPs, and RFQs May 12, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , ,

I understand that it’s important to have clear documentation and terms between an organization and its vendors when a new system or piece of software is being purchased and implemented. This could be a learning management system, learning content management system, document management system, etc. But I’ve run into a frustrating scenario several times recently with some vendors and their Request For Information (RFI), Request For Proposal (RFP), and Request For Quotation (RFQ) forms, and it makes me question why they operate the way they do.

Here’s a scenario that illustrates the problem I’ve encountered: I’ve been asked to select a ________ system to serve a particular purpose for our organization. I’ve been told that my budget is $________. Generally, I would speak with stakeholders, identify our requirements, research vendors, watch demos, get pricing, and then decide which vendors are in the final running for selection. If I’m not familiar with a certain type of system, I will typically call a few vendors to get initial pricing information to help me get started. However, I’ve found that you can’t get pricing information from some vendors – it’s like pulling teeth. They require you to work through their RFI, RFP, or RFQ form(s) and/or requirements gathering process. But here’s my question: Why should I spend all this time filling out a long form or going through a long process when their product ends up being way outside my budget?

Some vendors that I’ve worked with genuinely take offense when you ask for general pricing information up-front. And I do state that I’m looking for a ballpark estimate; I’m not asking exact figures by any means. I don’t understand that. I’d rather not waste my time (and their time) if there’s no chance of a transaction taking place.

Detailed requirements and a complete analysis should be completed when it comes time to get serious with one or more vendors, but not in the early stages of selection, in my opinion.

Please excuse me as I step off my soapbox. 🙂

P.S. – Here’s a great reference for writing RFPs: http://www.howtowriteanrfp.com/.


1. Gloria Goldstein - May 17, 2007


I agree, that is why we will give out ball park pricing in preliminary stages.

But, from the other side of the fence. What is really annoying for us is when we receive an rfp that is very general, and just plucked from someone’s web site or off the internet.

1) Quite frankly, most of the time companies or individuals assigned with doing due dilligence in assessing systems themselves don’t really know what they need. Then they just pull down these large docs from cyberspace, and send them out en mass. On our end, its just a real time waster. We are forced to fill out these long forms and provide all this information, and RARELY if ever does the company even use 1/2 of the functionality they ask for.

2) RFPs are poorly written and very general–hence, ripped from the internet–not really written for the situation.

3) MOST OF THE TIME….A company already has been talking to a vendor or vendors at first. So, when they do send out an RFP–its really wired to the company they are already talking to. I can not tell you the number times we get RFPs and we know exactly who’s template they have stolen and where it comes from. So, its not really fair. And to a sales person, its a real time waster to fill out these long docs–when you rarely get down to the final because you have already been knocked out of the game.

So, those of us on the other side of the mix do not like the process either and it takes away from a organization’s selling effectiveness. We want our people using to be using their time effectively, but doing RFPs is just not effective in terms of closing business.

That is why you get mixed to poor responses from companies when you send out an rfp. Its become so bad, that we will not accept ANY unsolicited/BLIND RFPs. And we require that we must have at least one and sometimes two preliminary meetings with company representatives before we will even spend time doing one.

So I say to you, consultants, companies, do your job well on your side and give us a fair shot and we will work with you…

Probably not what you wanted to hear…

2. B.J. Schone - May 17, 2007

No – this is good to hear!

I’m glad you provide ballpark pricing during the preliminary stages. And it didn’t even dawn on me that companies like yours would receive so many variations of RFPs. I bet that is a hassle, and I see how it could be a big time-waster for you, too. I don’t blame you for not accepting blind RFPs at all.

I’ll make sure I keep all of this in mind going forward; I’ll always ask a company their preferred format for RFPs when the time comes. Thanks!

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