Mobility RFPs are a significant cost to both corporations and their service partners. How do we ensure the RFP process provides corporations with more focussed and meaningful information on which to rely in selecting a service partner?
At the annual CERC conference held in Montreal in September, Linda Ward O’Farrell, Michael Kislasko of RGA and Rob Stone of The MIGroup lead a workshop on the subject of RFPs that focussed on the importance of communicating clear evaluation criteria to assist bidders in the preparation of an strong RFP submission. We thought we would share the highlights of the workshop’s group exercise.
In order to highlight the possibilities for misalignments between what corporations and suppliers see as important features of a submission, participants were presented a fictional though not uncommon RFP scenario and asked to sort 15 evaluation criteria categories in order of importance. The scenario involved a large growing organization with offices worldwide and increasing international relocation requirements administered through a tiered relocation program. The key requirements included high touch service, experience with domestic and international flex programs, responsiveness and reasonable cost.
The results of the exercise provided interesting insight into each party’s understanding of each other.
The graph below indicates the average rankings by category (highest=1 and lowest=15) for the two participant groups:
It was reassuring to see that both groups were aligned on the importance of Experience as well as Communication & Counselling. Several of the other categories were also fairly close in their rankings.
The categories for which there were the biggest differences in how they were rated gave us valuable insight into the filter service partners use to evaluate the RFP and prepare their submission. In most cases, the difference was of 1 or 2 points. However, corporations rated SLA’s/guarantees and management of scope as more critical (by 5 and 3 points) than did suppliers, and suppliers viewed global reach/locations and price as significantly more important (by 4 points) than did corporations.
In the context of this exercise, the gaps in the ranking of these four categories tell us:
SLA’s/guarantees: That it’s not good enough for suppliers to state that they have the experience and offer well managed, high quality service. Corporations expect them to understand the importance of oversight and accountability through well-defined SLAs and guarantees. This was the largest disconnect of the exercise.
Price: It is important but, for corporations, not enough to minimize the impact of other important elements of any arrangement (e.g. shoddy oversight or service shortcuts).
Management of scope: Again, corporations want assurances that they get what they ask for.
Global reach/locations: That global presence and reach are important to corporations but should be viewed in the context of the increased accessibility provided through technology. It was interesting to note that both ranked the Virtual Space vs. Bricks & Mortar category near the bottom of the list. Why then did suppliers see global reach as the second most important criteria?
This exercise illustrated to workshop participants why a comprehensive RFP document should include clearly described criteria on which the service provider’s submission will be evaluated, in addition to the service and administrative requirements. With this in hand, the bidder is well positioned to prepare a submission that demonstrates an understanding of the corporation’s requirements and mobility culture while providing information focussed on the evaluation criteria. Whether the submission is effective will then be entirely up to the bidder. The corporation, for its part, will have a framework in place to perform a structured, fair and consistent evaluation of the submissions.
As an independent consulting firm with extensive experience and knowledge of the industry, Ward O’Farrell Consultants is in an ideal position to design and administer an RFP process. We will structure an RFP will a good understanding of the supplier market, as well as assist in establishing a meaningful evaluation process.