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The 'How' of Request for Proposals: Expert (Part 2)

By Kelly McGuire, TMCnet Editor
January 25, 2010

Editor’s Note: Requests for proposals, or “RFP,” or a request for a quote, or “RFQ,” is a process companies implement to put out outsourced work for bid amongst competing providers. In many industries, including the telecommunications industry, these requests are used to organize the process of selecting service providers for various duties within a company. Craig Antonucci, 3rd party remote call monitoring provider BPA International’s director of Client Strategies, breaks apart the process, weighs in on the pros and cons of the systems and offers insight as to how these strategies work.

In continuing with last week’s discussion, BPA’s Craig Antonucci touched on the “why” of RFP’s and RFQ’s and the necessity of them in the telecom industry.
And this week, Antonucci talks about how a company can ensure that the RFP process, if a company chooses to conduct it, is done according to protocol to ensure maximum efficiency.
“The first thing to do is to throw away the cookie cutter set of questions you have used for the last RFP,” Antonucci said. “I have come across several RFP’s that contain entire sections of questions that have no relevance to the business for bid.”
Next, getting the right – and, therefore, experienced – people involved, especially individuals who understand the business a company is looking to bid out, will move the process along much more smoothly.
“At BPA we have specific services for companies who wish to publish a RFP for one of our offerings,” Antonucci said. “We will help their company construct the proper RFP document, ask the right questions and compare them properly…even if we don’t end up being the vendor of choice.”
According to BPA officials, the basic foundation of a good RFP will start with establishing the goal of the project.
For those looking to cut costs, improve service levels or increase problem resolution, voicing these needs to a bidder will help detail their part of the process. And then, achieving a list of specific questions will allow a company to assess how the bidder will achieve specific requirements, including costs, timing, obligations and delivery.
According to Antonucci, this next step goes without saying.
“Get references,” he said. “Talk to existing and former customers of the companies you are considering and find out what it is like to work with that company.”
“Finally, the devil is in the details; this comes from experience and is why we recommend engaging someone like BPA when preparing your RFP document,” Antonucci said. “Things such as IT, data security, employee dedication, account management structure, billing, etc are all details you need to know about before you make your choice and regret that decision.”
In addition to all these steps, BPA officials suggest that arranging demonstrations, a “meet and greet” and, or site visits can solidify a proposal.
“Your investment could be large, and it’s well worth the time to fully research the company you will be working with…as the old adage goes, cut once, measure twice,” Antonucci said.
Check back next week to find out BPA’s predictions on how RFP’s can be a potential source of business.

Kelly McGuire is a TMCnet Web editor, covering CRM and workforce technologies, and anchor of its daily TMC Newsroom video broadcast. Kelly also writes about eco-friendly "green" technologies and smart grids, compiling TMCnet's weekly e-Newsletters on those topics, as well as the cable industry. To read more of Kelly's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire