RFI Process - The Devil is in the Detail
We have a bit of a love/hate relationships with RFI's. They can be the most efficient process to everyone, or they can be black hole of time and energy that leads to nowhere! The sales team only have eyes for the end results. But the services team treat them with caution.
The services team get excited that a new client is on the horizon, and even happier when the client is approaching the procurement process in a logical, organized, single approached manner. Hell, maybe they even have an allocated budget!
But as the saying goes, 'The devil is in the detail,' and the one key item that can derail an RFI process is...Who put the RFI together?
If IT and the EHS team have collaborated...we are in business. We get to be deal with the people who will be buying and using the software. This crucial collaboration between EHS and IT allows us to configure the application in line with the users wants and needs and meet the organisation's exact infrastructure requirements.
This isn't High School, you don't need you friends to ask your crush out on a date.
When a client gets someone else 'to ask their crush on a date' in their RFI process, we get a bit sad as we know if is sure to devolve into a box ticking exercise. A black and white exercise with no passion or relationship to it. Also, the fact that the people who should care the most about the end result have taken a backseat and given the steering wheel to people who don't really care and who won't be using it is worrying in itself.
Of course IT input is vital, but they cannot lead the process, they are there to make sure the system will be up to date, scalable, flexible and fits in with the rest of the organisation, but their input stops there, because at the end of the day, what do they know about EHS?
But the far greater concern is when the process is led by consultants. Sure their spreadsheets are elegant, they have a nice scoring system and say all the right EHS buzzwords. But what do they know about your team and companies EHS culture? What will work and what won't for your team? With the focus on soul destroying worksheets, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of the relationship in the transaction. Also, how can you be sure the consultants #1 priority is to serve your company and not the software supplier’s system. Preference form for all sorts of reasons, and this can distort the reality of the presentation and cloud your opinions.
So when you are putting together a RFI, take the reins and keep the process in house. No one knows what your team needs better than you and start asking yourself the important questions:
- What do I really want to know about the supplier and their software?
- Decide what are the must-haves, and what are the want-to haves. Remember, if everything is important...nothing is.
- What kind of relationship do I want with the software provider?