Are RFP’s Dead?
I’m attending the IHRIM conference this week in Washington D.C. and today I tried to attend several sessions that dealt with new technology, trends, or new initiatives. Presentations were varied – some case studies and some by those consider the new HR tech gurus. I find it interesting when old information is regurgitated in a new format with slight tweaks to make it seem new and cutting edge. And one of those sessions expressed what HR trends were like for 2011.
In this session, the presenter expressed their belief that the process of RFPs is broken or unneeded. For example, one comment today was that RFPs are really unnecessary because of the consolidation in the industry and because there are really only about two viable solutions for any given client. Said with such conviction and certainty, a member of the audience might walk away with the impression that no analysis or investigation is necessary. Just partner with the right consulting firm and you’ve got a guarantee of success. It’s no surprise to me that the speaker in this presentation had said earlier that his firm was moving into “vendor recommendations” rather than “selection”.
So obviously, if you want to avoid the hard work of analyzing your needs and evaluating the best solution – if you want to be told what to do rather than developing an understanding and making an informed decision – if you want a consulting firm to come in and tell you what the market has to offer and then hold the consulting firm accountable when the decision is made – you should opt out of the process of doing an RFP. Preparing an RFP requires you to put time and effort into understanding what your needs are and what you want. If you want to abdicate your responsibility and accountability for doing the research and evaluation that your organization will depend on for the next 10 years – if done well – then by all means, just take the advice of a consulting firm.
Make no mistake – you own the solution – not the consulting firm and you will be responsible for problems, mistakes, or failed ROI if or when it occurs. So choose to take recommendations without research at your own peril. So many times, I have worked on projects that are struggling because the research into solutions was poorly managed. It happens over and over. So my question is – how can a consulting firm know your organization better than you do? What if there are 3 viable solutions and because you understand the culture better, a solution that the vendor doesn’t think of as best – is actually best for your organization? The consolidation of the industry changes players and vendors all the time – but you may still be working with the same organization 5 years from now – trying to live down that mistake caused by no research.