Is your Website RFP Hurting you?

We respond to RFP’s on a somewhat regular basis, but for the most part we try to simply build long lasting relationships with our customers that go beyond what could be portrayed on a simple piece of paper.  You see we have found that discussion is by far the best way to determine what is best for your companies web presence.  Not only is it hard to clearly define expectations, requirements, desires, or wants in a piece of paper as simple as an RFP, but it is often times difficult for you to truly determine the value that your bidding companies can truly offer.  Taking care to respond to the requirements of your RFP document leaves little room to respond to the needs of your business or organization in general.

Website RFPs Limit Quality Bidders?

RFPs are in our experience used by companies as a means to quickly solicit bids for a project and generate a list of qualified vendors that you can then investigate a little more thoroughly.  The problem with this mentality is that it also removes qualified candidates from your potential pool of vendors.  Lets say your RFP contains a list of features, a very specific CMS that you require using, and a budget.  That means that you are only soliciting bids from businesses that focus on that CMS for example.  You may be completely missing out on a better, more stable long term option because you aren’t allowing discussion.  Even if you say in your RFP that you are open to other ideas with a detailed explanation, the bidding company is left weighing the time spend on your RFP on the hopes that you might listen to their options. 

On the other end of the spectrum, if your budget is not matched well to your list of required features, you will likely limit your proposals to companies who don’t fully understand your requirements or expectations, or that are willing to lower standards just to win your RFP.  Budget and features are directly related to each other.  Only through thorough discovery will you come to the right set of features for the budget that you have.  The big thing to remember here is that you can have fixed features or fixed cost.  You will always have a limiting variable, and it almost always exists in either cost or features.  By putting both of these as solid parts of an RFP you are really tying the hands of the more ethical and higher quality agencies trying to get involved in your project.

How do I Pick a Company with No Website RFP?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer here.  Finding a company to build your next website is not an easy task, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  My suggestion is to put some feelers out, call some companies (I wouldn’t mind of course if one of those was LightSky), ask for referrals, find out who built the sites that you like the most, and most of all ask questions.  I think one of the better approaches is to pay someone to do a little discovery with you, find out what you want, and what fits within your budget.  Then if you decide to go seeking some additional bids, you have a clear path for what you are looking for.  Paying for a little discovery might seem counter productive to saving budget, but you will be surprised how important this is to the process.  You are going to do the discovery anyway, and who knows you might find the perfect partner for you during the process and get a good deal on your project because of it.