Alan Pelz-Sharpe has written a nice article on how to write better RFIs. It’s a good article and I wish I could send the link to all our clients :). Alan gives good advice on best practices for writing better RFIs. In one of the sections, he explains “How Not to Build a Shortlist” of vendors. I’d like to add one more point to that list. A lot of vendors take the help of SIs to draft the RFP (or an RFI) and then that particular SI is automatically on the shortlist. I don’t think that’s a very smart idea.
Also, customers should very clearly mention things like “No answer should be larger than 10 lines” or the “total size of the response should not be more than 10 pages”. It’s common sensical and these things are obvious if you want to make your response crisp but many vendors just don’t care enough about these and as a result, churn out responses that have 100s of pages and contain all kind of useless info. After all, common sense is not as common as it appears.
On a funnier note though, I once saw an RFP in which the customer had asked for “2 soft copies” and “3 hard copies” of response. I can understand the need of multiple hard copies but was completely stumped by “2 soft copies”!