I found out last week that we didn’t win an RFP (aka Requests for Proposal). It was disappointing because the project was a good fit for our organization. It felt like we had a real good shot at winning this work. Unfortunately, you can’t win them all! Once I got over that fact, I sent a quick email to the marketing director and asked if we could do an RFP post-mortem — a debrief where they could provide feedback on our proposal. It was something that I’ve never done before but thankfully they agreed!
Knowing that I had only 30 minutes, I decided to focus on questions that would change our future approaches. Here’s what I came up with:
- How many proposal(s) did they receive?
- Who won the work?
- Did we comply with your response process?
- What written component(s) did the winning proposal have (that our proposal was missing)?
- Were any component(s) in the proposal unclear? If so, which ones? Why?
- Are there any factor(s) outside of the written response that made you select the other vendor?
- How does our approach/pricing/timing line up with the other proposal(s)?
- What do you see is our biggest strength? Our biggest weakness?
- Where are you with the vendor selection process? Is the project still on track?
We held the call yesterday afternoon and it went well. I’m still compiling my notes and thinking about the big lesson for technology, which I will write about in my next post. In the meantime, I did (unfortunately) re-learn an important lesson about the RFP process: be wary of buying on sight unseen. In other words, proceed with caution if the vendor selection decision is based on simply submitting a response.
With that said, what else should I have asked in the RFP postmortem?