A Faster and Better RFP Process

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The RFP process, when done right, can be time consuming and very expensive. It doesn’t matter if you represent a large holding company, a small agency, or brand directly, RFP’s take time to build, execute, and evaluate. And as we all know, time is money. I recently interviewed a media buying leader that has worked for agencies and brands about the process and cost of executing RFP’s. By his estimation, it costs a large agency at least $5,000 to execute an RFP. This is for the simplest of RFP’s. When he has RFP’d for large technology purchases, it can be closer to $10k. How can this be? Glance at the process as it was described to me and then jump to the end and find a better way!

Here is how he described a typical RFP process:

  1. The client tells the agency that they would like to find a new DSP.
  2. The agency says, ok, we will need to RFP vendors based on the selection criteria.
  3. The agency spends some hours working with the client and internal teams to determine what the selection criteria is. This cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  4. Once the criteria is agreed upon, the senior leader at the agency asks a junior team member to draft a list of RFP questions and organize them by category. This cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  5. Once the draft to complete, the junior team member circulates the questions to the various stakeholders at the agency for feedback before sharing it with the client. This cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  6. Once all the revisions are made and agreed upon, the RFP questions are shared with the client. This cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  7. Assuming the client doesn’t have any edits, the agency emails the RFP to the select list of vendors. If this is a holding company agency, it likely goes to a select few that they favor based on kickbacks (although they call it something different). This isn’t the fault of anyone in this process. It is a top down mandate from corporate leaders who don’t know the first thing about advertising or adTech so if you are reading this, please don’t take it personally. This cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  8. In my experience, most RFP’s are flawed and each vendor will feel like the questions aren’t relevant to them or they have much more to add. The agency will say, “that’s OK, just fill it out the best you can and send it back with additional documentation. So the rep will proceed by inputting several N/A’s with notes that won’t be read. Depending on how much time has been granted, the vendor will circulate the RFP internally. However, oftentimes, they only have a few days so customization is lacking with can be a detriment to the client. The vendor will have several questions which they will send to the agency in hopes of getting answers before the deadline. If the agency does answer the questions, this will also cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  9. The agency will send out one or two reminders prior to the deadline, this cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  10. Once all the RFP’s have been emailed back, that junior team member will be tasked with organizing the RFP responses and circulating them to team members. This cost money in the form of hours billed to the client.
  11. The team will meet to determine a winner or which vendors they would like to invite in for presentations. The internal meeting and the vendor meetings will cost the client money in the form of hours.
  12. During this phase of the process, time will be spent searching for missing documents, printing responses, and so on, all billed to the client in the form of hours.
  13. Eventually a vendor will be chosen. However, in six months, the agency and client will learn that the vendor doesn’t have a key capability that they need. Everyone will be furious at this fact and start pointing fingers. People will start searching for documents that show that the vendor said they could do it but it will never be found because if it doesn’t exist, it’s buried in someones email or that junior team member had it and they are no longer with the agency.

This wasn’t meant to pick on agencies. A very similar scenario would likely occur at agencies of all sizes and with brands directly. Worse, I have seen many brands choose a vendor without performing and RFP process. This leads to all kinds of issues down the road because you don’t know who said what, when.

There is a better way! The Cogent Olive Platform performs complex technology evaluations quickly and easily. Its robust requirement libraries and internal survey features facilitate an agile collaboration process, making it easy to capture, prioritize and manage your business needs, no matter the complexity. The Cogent Olive platform guides you through all steps of the technology evaluation process, getting you to a shortlist of solutions faster than ever thought possible.

The platform automates much of the process and provides detailed audit trails that will maximize everyone’s time and value. All of your internal and external communication can occur in the platform, along with all document sharing. They key benefits are

  • Better organized RFP process
  • Less time on administrative tasks like searching and organizing
  • Faster times to implementation
  • More stakeholder and vendor engagement
  • More solutions evaluated
  • Better long-term partnerships
  • Less mistakes

This can all be done at a fraction of the cost or for zero dollars if you know the right people.