Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2016-02-29 19:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

Have you conducted an eDiscovery RFI/RFP exercise? Did your phone blow up for days as persistent sales reps had ‘just a couple questions’? Did you throw your hands up in despair as the responses trickled in bearing little resemblance to what you asked for?  Sending out a RFI/RFP is like ringing the dinner bell while standing in a pack of hungry hounds. You can’t blame them for wanting any scrap of inside information that might give their response an advantage. You can blame them for not reading instructions or the customer requirements. As you might guess, I am in the middle of another RFP engagement and I want to share some of the lessons learned.

  • Know the difference between the initial Request for Information (to qualify prospects) and the formal Request for Proposal (actual bids). Keep your RFI questions Yes/No where possible and give them room for voluntary details. Don’t demand pricing on the RFI or penalize providers who do not provide it. Get the information you need to narrow the field to real contenders.
  • Don’t waste provider’s time if they really don’t have a chance at the business.
  • Expect every provider to try to get you on the phone, even when you are in the RFI stage. If you can’t handle the calls, add instructions above the fold to that effect.
  • Put your due date in the cover email, on the instruction sheet and anywhere else you can think of. When the tardy providers call asking for an extension, think hard about what that says about their bandwidth and long term ability to deliver service/support.
  • Save the demos, meetings and detailed questions for the RFP phase.
  • Assess responses with pricing against your budget range and drop any who break the ceiling. Do not assume or expect that you can ‘bargain down’ list prices to meet your budget.
  • I have never considered it ethical to run back and forth using competitor’s bids to beat down pricing. Too many of our engagements are spent cleaning up the mess when a provider has cut corners after bowing to pricing pressure.

Mikki and I frequently conduct ‘blind RFIs’ that protect clients from the wave of hungry sales reps on the prospecting round. Forego the donuts and happy hour invitations if you have an eDiscovery savy counsel or independent consultant who can play that role for you. Better yet, I am betting that your purchasing department has resources and rules for these things.

Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a ‘Good Karma’ call. His active research topics include analytics, SMB eDiscovery, mobile device discovery, the discovery impact of the cloud, Microsoft’s Office 365/2013 eDiscovery Center and multi-matter discovery. Recent consulting engagements include managing preservation during enterprise migrations, legacy tape eliminations, retention enablement and many more.

Blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment. eDJ consultants are not journalists and perspectives are based on public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being posted. Do you want to share your own perspective? eDJ Group is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations.

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