Ah, the Request For Proposal (RFP). For some industries, it’s the golden standard. For others, it’s seemingly easier than shopping around. And before we rag on them, they do have their time and place… just not in Managed IT Services.
Why shouldn’t you use an RFP for IT services?
1. They’re time-consuming.
Unless you have a standard format for the RFP you’re using that applies to IT services specifically, the time put into composing a general RFP brief could be better spent having actual conversations with companies who may do more for your business than an RFP or break/fix relationship ever could.
With an RFP, you must sift through piles of paper to try to determine the best candidates on paper. And therein lies the problem: When you’re not spending time having real conversations, you miss opportunities for long-term solutions to be discovered.
2. RFPs can subconsciously skew your intent.
It’s easy to fall into the “bargain shopper” trap when using an RFP. It’s hard to compare candidates side-by-side without heavily considering the price.
This cost mindset is problematic for a few reasons:
- Quantifying ability or fit for your needs often extends beyond what can be conveyed on paper
- Lower costs can indicate a lack of expertise and a meager technology offering
- Opportunities for a long-term solution and partnership will be lost
3. You may not know what you actually need for technology.
As a business leader or key decision-maker responsible for running a company, the last thing you want to do is worry about how technology keeps your business functioning. It’s not your job to know which technology solutions will enable better day-to-day operations; that’s the responsibility of an IT team.
Unless your RFP was created by your current provider, it’s possible that you may not actually know how deep the IT issues go. What may look like a small upgrade could result in an entire overhaul in order to protect your customer data and boost efficiency.
Technology is complex. Many businesses hurt themselves by either over- or under-spending when it comes to technology solutions. This results in wasted time, money, and resources. An RFP doesn’t leave room for conversations that can lead to business-altering discoveries and solutions that can dramatically improve efficiency.
4. You may lose great-fit opportunities.
There are some service providers who avoid RFPs all together, not because they aren’t qualified, but because they recognize that it’s not worth their time to be put into a small box for solutions that may not properly fix the issues. This can eliminate opportunities for partners who will benefit your business in the long run.
Often, when it comes to an IT overhaul, creative solutions are necessary to fit timelines, budget, and need. An RFP can overlook the importance of conversation and deep discovery that sets up your business for greater long-term functionality, including a technology refresh schedule that works for your budget. You could be eliminating the right solutions just because you’re insistent on using an RFP.
5. The complexity and scope of a project are often underestimated.
When your new solutions don’t take into account old methods or examine current hardware, software, network, and infrastructure health, you set yourself up for long-term problems.
For example: Say your RFP is requesting hardware upgrades because your older models are running slow. You fail to recognize that some of your current programs may not be compatible with new solutions. Or that your new hardware may put too much stress on your infrastructure and network in their current configurations. This can result in a messy implementation process that leaves both parties frustrated.
The days of transactional service provider relationships are a thing of the past. That disconnect you sometimes feel with your current IT provider shouldn’t exist. But often, that gap is there because the two teams working together don’t really understand each other or how they can help the other. Mutual relationships are based on knowledge, trust, and interest in working toward big-picture goals. It’s important that you know which questions to ask when looking for an IT partner.
Creating a long-term partnership with a technology success partner, who focuses on your goals and enabling your company to grow, is a far better investment than the time and resources that go into creating and choosing an RFP. Together, you’ll create a technology roadmap and make sure that your business has all the things it needs to stay up-to-date.
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