We Don't Do RFPs

RFPs are an ineffective way to source software. Fortunately, there's a better, easier way

Articles » We Don't Do RFPs

We recognize that some organizations rely on RFPs for evaluating software purchase options. But we have found that this approach does not serve the interests of software buyer or seller. Therefore, EchoSpan has decided to not participate in RFPs. The article below explains why.

RFPs Are Ineffective

While RFPs may be passable for sourcing commodities such as fuel, apples or nails, they aren't well-suited to sourcing complex business software and services.

The talent management industry includes dozens of 360-degree feedback solutions. Within that group, there are large subgroups of companies that vary by product age, customizability, price, multi-language capabilities, security features, etc.. However, even very detailed RFPs fail to capture each vendor's key differentiators. Instead, a myopic emphasis is placed on price and baseline capabilities, thereby preventing higher-quality participants from communicating their strongest qualities. Our best differentiators--usability, customizability, scalability and customer service--are not always made easily apparent in the typical RFP format.

Further, RFPs are not even necessary for gathering price information. Most credible companies will publish pricing online (ours is available here), so a RFP is really only needed for acquiring pricing information from vendors that hide it. It's a mystery to us why buyers would even consider a vendor that isn't open with something as simple and essential as the price of its products.

Finally, RFP responses are bad indicators as to whether or not a software tool will actually work in the production environment. During the sales process, vendor sales people are very good at highlighting portions of an application that "present well" while glossing over what is obtuse, out-of-date or costs extra. Over the years, we've won many accounts that resulted from failed RFP selections of competing vendors. Buyers have come to us seeking our help when the tool they selected originally "didn't work out."

They Attract Bottom-Feeders

We're not the only company in our industry that avoids RFPs. Most of the higher-quality vendors in our space do, too, because there are faster, easier and more meaningful ways to earn new business. This, along with a RFPs drive to minimize costs, means that many respondents to RFPs are weak companies that have to compete on price. The buyer is left choosing from a group of vendors that are at the back of the pack.

They Aren't Real

In many cases, RFPs are sent out to participating vendors after a selection has already been made. From a respondent's perspective, it's next to impossible to discern if a RFP presents a legitimate business opportunity, or, exists only to gather alternate "bids" for the buyer to record. Additionally, some RFPs are issued solely to survey the market and provide intelligence to a "buyer" that intends to build their own system or negotiate more favorable pricing from an existing vendor.

We Don't Like to Waste Time

RFPs very rarely result in new business. So, we choose to spend our time serving our current customers and engaging prospects that involve us more closely in their decision processes. Add to this that RFP deadlines are usually unrealistic and that purchase decisions are usually delayed or abandoned, the chance of winning business from a RFP is miniscule. This is why RFPs have and always will be the lowest priority sales activity at EchoSpan.

There Is A Better Way

Based on our more than 14 years in this industry, we've found the best way to evaluate whether or not software will meet your company's needs is to run a pilot program. By selecting a handful of vendors that meet minimum capability requirements, a buyer can run a few pilot reviews and assess the viability of a tool more quickly and completely than reviewing lengthy RFP responses.

EchoSpan will happily provide access to our system at no cost for the purposes of a pilot project. Other high-quality vendors in our space will do the same. We'll even provide you introductory training on how to use the system and support you through your pilot.

So, if you have an interest in learning more about EchoSpan and how we can help you, contact us. We'll be happy to arrange a demonstration, answer your questions, set up a pilot program and write a proposal without any obligation.

Last updated: Monday, July 25, 2016