Situations like this always remind me of HL Mencken’s quote (paraphrasing) that all complex problems have answers that are clear, simple and wrong.
While the idea of a standard response format to put all possible suppliers on an even playing field was valid and understandable at one point, in today’s technology environment the process is fundamentally flawed. The assumption that all solutions to a problem or need can be compared on an apples-to-apples basis is no longer true. Beyond that, the restrictive nature of the typical formats used prevents responders from detailing innovations that those writing the questions hadn’t envisioned.
Whether we’re discussing the RFP (Request for Proposals), the RFI (Request for Information) or the latest convolution we’ve seen lately – the RFS (Request for Solutions) it has become clear that the formality and rules of the processes involved do not serve the true needs of the client firm. While a rigid, formal process was once an excellent tool for comparing alternate prices for similar components and services, the RFx has been corrupted into an illogical process that is just incapable of identifying the right solutions to meet an organization’s needs. Or to put it another way, a good RFx response in no way correlates to a good solution.