Buyers support the use of RFPs

4 July 2012

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4 July 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha

Buyers do not believe the use of request for proposals (RFPs) is too frequent, according to the latest SM100 poll.

When asked, “Do purchasers use RFPs too often?”, 71 per cent of buyers responded ‘no’ while the remaining 29 per cent said ‘yes’.

It follows a debate at the Business Travel Market event last month, where one of the criticisms was that they were used too much, burdening suppliers with excessive requests for information.

Helen Baker, head of procurement at the University of West of England echoed the opinion of the majority of respondents when she said: “They are not used enough.” Clarifying her comments, she told SM: “Often colleagues advise to single source goods, but with a little bit of research RFPs could reduce costs by increasing competition.”

Christina De Luca, vice president, procurement and supply chain management and chief procurement officer refining and marketing at BP, replied ‘no’, with the belief RFPs are used appropriately and enable buyers to work efficiently.

“In my organisation purchasers are busy people. They use RFPs when they believe that it’s the appropriate strategy for the category/commodity. I can imagine that suppliers might want us to spend more time ‘getting to know them’, but our resources are limited,” she said.

Derek Gaynor, head of strategic procurement and compliance at the National University of Maynooth, also favoured their use. The best thing about the RFP according to Gaynor is that “it focuses the mind of both the buyer and service provider”. But he added the worst aspect of the process was a misunderstanding of their purpose on the supplier side. “Some bid for what they want to sell rather than what I require,” he said.

Among the 29 per cent that felt RFPs were used too often, many purchasers also believed they were too complex. “I would agree that purchasers do tend to use RFPs too often, they certainly have a tendency to use them inappropriately without really necessarily understanding the context and goods/services being procured,” said Shaun Evans, procurement manager at Lifestyle Services Group.

Philip Holmes, director of Principality Property Solutions, said: I think we spend too much time trying to make what should be quite a simple (but hugely important) process as difficult as we can for ourselves and our suppliers.

“We must of course be mindful of risk management, data and information security, security of supply, strategic sourcing, category management, P2P systems as well, but let’s also keep a real focus on delivering better procurement.”

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