Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The RFP Delusion

You can bet there are a couple of RFPs behind our problem of a stadium

I guess the question I'm asked the most often is: "When you were sitting in that capsule listening to the count-down, how did you feel?" Well, the answer to that one is easy. I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts -- all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract. - John Glenn, american astronaut

I already wrote about my hate of the RFP process in The worst way to choose a digital agency.

If you're buying a commodity product, a Requests For Proposal (RFP) might make sense because it is easy to compare vendors on a few, easily isolated variables like quality, price, speed, etc.

But when choosing a digital agency or for any kind of complex service, it is guaranteed to fail miserably.

To believe otherwise, you need to be either:

1. Retarded: You have no clue.

2. Be an accountant: You believe that anything worth measuring is easily measured.

3. Working in a purchasing department: Keeping your jobs requires you to not understand.

4. Employed by the the government or a multinational: You're not rewarded for results, you don't care and it's not your money.

Not only are RFPs inefficient in finding the right service provider, but you don't need to be a genius to figure out how easy it is to manipulate this kind of process. Humans are clever and imaginative and there are many many ways to work around the system. To believe otherwise would be foolish.

Marketing directors have the hassle to constantly deal with legal and IT and you think that they can't run circles around the purchasing guys? C'mon.

I can't recount how many times competitors have called me to play dummy on a RFP they wanted to participate in. Or how many marketing directors I have seen warp the process to favor the agency they wanted.

And I'm not the only one ranting against the RFP process.

How to Hire a Marketing Agency (if even Mr Nice Guy Mitch Joel is against it, there is a reason)
Why RFPs Don't Work (for the client OR the agency)
RFPs sucks - don't take my word for it
RFPs Sucks
Why Finding a Marketing Agency by RFP Sucks

Wake up and smell the coffee Ms Bueller. 

If you know someone who still believes in RFPs, please forward him this post. Who knows, they might wake up.

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