Buyers considering an RPO solution are evaluating a major investment, both financially and strategically. Those running the RFP process must conduct a thorough and disciplined process which often takes one of three paths:
- The “kitchen sink” approach, which covers almost every possible contingency within the intended engagement;
- The “cut & paste” approach, which cobbles together various questions from a range of different RFPs that the organization has used for other business vendors;
- The “tailored” approach, which thoughtfully addresses only the most relevant topics relating to this RPO engagement and the typical areas of disclosure for this stage of the process.
When companies choose either of the first two paths, they can make more work for themselves and the applying vendors. But even more concerning, having an over-engineered RFP can also have a dilutive effect on understanding the true strengths of the vendor in question.
Buyers should take a “tailored” approach to building their RFP. The following tips are simple ways to focus your RFP and get the most out of the process:
- Start with Motive: “What is the problem you’re trying to solve?” This is the most important question a buyer can ask themselves when building an RFP strategy. Distilling your approach down to a simple set of questions that fully support the current business challenges will allow you to get more direct and specific with vendors about the target service requirements. Make the company’s “business problem” the core focus of the RFP content and use this as a litmus test throughout the document by continuing to ask… “Does this question help me understand how this provider will solve our business problem(s)?” If it doesn’t, cut it.
- Get Consultation: If you are building an RPO RFP for the first time, there are resources to understand RFP best practices. Buyers can tap into their personal network of other HR/TA execs, leverage research from RPO industry associations or even ask a few RPO providers themselves for their input and help. The experiential depth is all around you, and people are typically very willing to share their best practices and learnings for your benefit.
- Allow for Engagement: The written structure of the RFP can create a “check box” mentality. Is the provider global? Do they have experience in your specific recruitment area? Do they provide the specific solution needed? However, buyers should identify questions in their RFP that are not as easily satisfied with a written reply and allow for additional discussion when warranted. These topics will tend to be areas with some level of variability, such as pricing and implementation. It behooves the buyer to ask additional questions on certain key topics. This will help the buyer learn what other factors may play in to this topic and will also allow providers to be fully transparent and detailed in their response. In some instances, certain questions may be better suited for discussion during the actual sales presentation stage.
- Avoid Duplication: There are often various stakeholders that are consulted with when building an RFP, including: HR/TA execs, Department Heads, Hiring Managers and Procurement. While their contributing influences will be different, they may ask very similar questions, which then appear repetitively throughout the RFP. Avoid these redundancies where possible by streamlining the questions – ideally a single topic should only be asked about once. If there are multiple stakeholder perspectives that need to be taken into consideration, ask the provider to address each of the distinct audiences.
RFPs are complex to build and labor-intensive to respond to, which is appropriate given the depth and importance of the solution being considered. Buyers can create an ideal RFP communication tool that eliminates vague responses and allows providers to provide more clarity and substance. A strong RFP process can set the tone for a highly productive buying process and will ultimately help the buyer pick the best partner possible.
If considering an RPO solution, read more about the range of solutions to consider.