Why the RFP Process Always Takes Longer Than You Think

Procurement folks are a quirky bunch. We're known to obsess over process. We need everything to be streamlined. We need everyone to follow our protocols. And if they don't, we get a little nutty.

This is why we love RFPs. We love translating complicated business needs into a uniform request that we can send to suppliers.

That is...until we get to the requirements gathering process. This is where the Procurement department starts to lose control. And this is where the process always takes longer than expected.

In this video, we'll explore why the RFP process for an ERP system is such a lengthy endeavour — and whether or not it's worth the wait for your organization.

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Video Transcript

I’ve been in the workforce for almost 30 years. And in that time, I’ve met a lot of professionals who are very good at what they do — lawyers, accountants, doctors.

And what I’ve found is that each profession has its own unique character trait.

Lawyers like to get lost in the details.

Accountants want everything to balance out.

And I know a lot of doctors who are very quick at making decisions.

Well, procurement professionals aren’t any different. We’re highly process-oriented.

We obsess over it. I know I do.

Which is why it’s no surprise that we’re in love with RFPs.

There’s an order to things, a uniformity. Everything in its place.

Until you get to the part where you have to define requirements… That’s when things start to get a little bit tricky.

Because organizations won’t spend a million dollars on an ERP system to do just one thing, for one business unit.

They want everyone using it for everything, which means everyone gets a say in what the tool’s going to do for them.

And that presents two problems:

First, somebody has to sit with everyone and find out what they need. The problem is, no one ever tells you what they need. They only tell you what they want.

A few weeks ago, I was with a client, and she said, “Mohammed, we need the ability to create contracts in OneView. You have to build this functionality for us.”

So I said, “Okay, what tool are you using right now?”

“Oh, we’re not using a tool. Legal provides us with templates which we send to the suppliers.”

“Alright. How long have you been doing that?”

“Well, at least for the last 8 years that I’ve been with the company.”

“Hmm. So you don’t actually need that functionality. You want the functionality.”

And it’s okay to want features and functionality that you currently don’t have.

But when you’re building requirements for an RFP, separating the must-haves from the nice-to-haves take weeks, sometimes even months depending on the size of your organization.

The second problem presents itself when you finally have all the requirements from every business unit that’s going to use the new ERP system.

Now you have to find suppliers who have solutions that can actually meet all of those requirements.

At this point, a lot of organizations will send out an RFI (request for information) to a large group of suppliers.

In an RFI, you don’t put in the detailed business requirements but rather, a set of business problems.

And you ask the suppliers to respond with how their solution is going to solve those problems.

And then you shortlist from those responses and send those suppliers the RFP.

But that whole process usually takes a few months before you finally select a supplier, another 3-6 months before negotiating a contract, and then — depending on the supplier — it could be another 12-24 months before you actually have an ERP system go live.

Now as I’ve said, an ERP system may be exactly what your organization needs when the time is right for you.

But the question you should be asking is: can you really afford to ignore contract management for another 2-3 years while you wait for your ERP system to come and save you?

The short answer is no, you can’t.

So over the next few weeks, we’ll show you what you can do about it.

But while you’re waiting, check out our free course on the 4 Pillars of Contract Management at oneviewnow.com/course and stay tuned.