An RFI is usually the first step in project management request. It’s a tool collecting data from potential suppliers to give you a quick overview of their products and/or services. An RFI is usually used when you want to filter a long list of prospective suppliers at the early stage. See What is RFI and what are the best practices for it? and How to write an effective RFI: 5 tips you can’t miss if you’re interested in knowing more.
An effective RFI gives you enough information for you to foresee the whole project. It’s like a form of damage control, saving you time and money from the top. That said, an RFI can be the first step of your journey to success, or the highway to failure if you’re doing it wrong.
So, how can you make sure that the journey starts off the right way and won’t end up in the middle all of a sudden?
Here are 5 deal-breakers that you should avoid when looking for the ideal supplier. Examine yourself and your potential suppliers with the following features. Be decisive, and end the engagement before it’s too late.
1. Not clarifying your needs and requirements
Transparency is one of the key factors for a successful project. And it should start from the very beginning of the relationship to the very end. So it’s best for you to take the initiative and make your project needs and requirements clear when sending out the RFIs.
On the side note, even though we say that you should clarify your needs and requirements, you shouldn’t make them too specific and detailed, since an RFI doesn’t always guarantee non-disclosure responsibility from the other party. It’s important as well to protect your own rights.
Similar to the first deal-breaker, refusing to answer questions related to the project needs reveals a lot about how your company works. And it sends a really bad message: you don’t trust who you’re about to work with. In addition, the other party might choose to stay away from a potential partnership when they see a company trying to hide critical things from them.
So the right thing here to do is to have the open dialogue policy, and tell your potential who to talk to when they need help. This is how you speed up the response of RFI, and the project process.
3. Unreasonable cost
Generally, cost is not something you mention in an RFI. But there are always exceptions. When you ask for cost information in the RFI, and get responses from suppliers for you to compare, costs that stand out in the crowd is always eye catching enough for you to cross them off your list.
So before you send out the RFI, do your homework first. Search to see how the industry deals with similar situation, and gauge how much value you can add to the other party, then give out the final number.
Obviously, if you can’t work out the time frame for both sides to work together, for example, if the potential supplier is too occupied by other projects, there is no point fixating on the single supplier. There’s always alternatives that you can turn to.
Turning your product from idea to mass production requires a lot of time and devoted effort from many parties. The sooner you find the ideal supplier that can meet your needs, the better. Starting the production journey earlier means bigger competitive edge.
5. Expecting the other party to bear all the risks
Even though unlikely, this has been seen before. Such behaviors could only do harm to your business. Moreover, it’s the wrong way to start a relationship with your supplier. If this is what you do, all you can expect in the relationship with suppliers might be lies and accusation. Definitely not what you’ve expected in the first place.
So, shoulder your responsibilities, and treat your potential suppliers with respect. The supplier relationship should be a win-win approach, not a zero sum game.
That’s it, the 5 deal-breakers that you should avoid in RFIs. Stay away from them, and the best of luck with your first step in the project process.
If you have any concern or question regarding RFIs (Request for Information), feel free to reach out and we’ll see how we can help.