Strategic Sourcing & Other Vendor Management Best Practices

Successful vendor management that leads to long-term, beneficial relationships starts with sourcing.

Unfortunately, many organizations rely on ineffective requests for proposals (RFPs) to identify the right vendors … leading to poor selections and less-than-satisfying partnerships.

(Learn how RFP360 can help you craft effective RFPs and evaluate potential vendors.)

Fortunately, with a few modifications, you can write RFPs that lead to deep vendor insights and make selections that further your organization’s business goals.

How to craft RFPs that support strategic sourcing

Avoid one-size-fits-all RFPs

If you’re looking for a vendor, chances are you have a very specific problem you’re trying to overcome.

And while other organizations have probably faced similar challenges and sought similar solutions, every situation is unique.

Each challenge has its own context and requires its own approach.

That’s why you can’t rely on generic RFPs.

They simply won’t contain your situation’s context and history.

Instead of relying solely on boilerplate RFP language, identify your concerns and requirements and look for areas where you can tailor your RFP to match your needs.

That doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch, of course.

Your RFPs may contain certain questions you use over and over … and using RFP templates is a great way to give your team a head-start.

It just means you need to ensure the RFP you issue properly explains your challenge and expected solution.

That way vendors can provide you with the information you need to make a well-reasoned selection.

Ask for what you want

So, if generic RFPs are out, what should you do?

It’s time to customize your vendor selection process. Here’s how:

Step 1. Define your ideal vendor.

Before you send your RFP, you need to understand exactly what you’re looking for.

Discuss your unique service/product requirements with your team.

Ask yourselves what an ideal supplier would look like. What is their optimal size, location, and service portfolio?

Clarify which traits and features are necessities and which are on the wish list.

Be as specific as possible. The clearer you are about your ideal solution, the easier it will be to identify it.

Step 2. Ask specific questions. 

Now that you know what you’re looking for, ask for it.

Take the time to create specific RFP questions.

This will give vendors the chance to self-qualify themselves. (If they can tell from your RFP they’re not a good fit, they simply won’t waste their time.)

This also saves you time by reducing the number of irrelevant RFP responses you have to score and compare.

Shop smarter

All said, when your questions are relevant and specific, you get quality proposals.

It sets you up to get the information you need (by detailing what you really want to know), which means you can compare responses thoroughly and efficiently.

How RFP360 can help

RFP360 makes it easy to collaborate with internal teams to create a detailed RFP.

And with automated scoring and side-by-side vendor comparisons, making the selection that best addresses your needs is a breeze.

“We’re feeling more confident in the selections,” said Kelly Ellis, director of administration and operational excellence at Piper Jordan. “The scoring is much less subjective. It’s very black-and-white now, providing us with quantitative metrics we can point to.”

Learn how RFP360 can support strategic sourcing at your organization.

RD Symms

RD is a senior copywriter at Responsive. He has more than 15 years of experience in writing, content development, and creative strategy. Connect with RD on LinkedIn.

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