5 tips for structuring an RFP for outsourced recruitment services – Straight from a CWS Summit round table
Karina Townley

5 minutes

5 tips for structuring an RFP for outsourced recruitment services – Straight from a CWS Summit round table

The Staffing Industry Analysts CWS Summit Europe is the biggest event on the European contingent workforce calendar, with hundreds of HR & Procurement professionals from leading organisations coming together for two days of talks, insight, workshops and networking.

‘Structuring an RFP’ round table discussion
I was lucky enough to be invited to host a series of round table of discussions on the topic of ‘Structuring an RFP’ at this year’s Summit, and was joined by over 20 delegates in senior positions within HR and Procurement from leading organisations.

I was pleased to be joined by delegates who are in various stages of outsourced recruitment service procurement; from those who are approaching their first generation MSP, through to more experienced second+ generation and programmes now incorporating SOW too - it was great to see those more experienced roundtable members supporting, along with myself, those new to the world of managed services. 

There really was a wealth of talent and experience along with a collaborative, sharing atmosphere around the table!

5 tips for structuring an RFP for outsourced recruitment services
Through the series of round tables, key themes and topics came up again and again, which I have summarised below. 

5 tips for structuring an RFP for outsourced recruitment services – Straight from a CWS Summit round table

1. How to get the best from an RFP when ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know’!
To find out what you don’t know, you need to talk and gain from the experience of those that do know – sounds obvious, but many are scared to share challenges and uncertainties

  • TIP #1: Research suppliers and select a few to engage in conversation and exploration. Sign NDAs, be transparent with your challenges, hold workshops pre-RFP and those “unknowns” will start to get filled in, plus establishing relationships with suppliers can only be a positive when looking to outsource a people function

2. Get your goals clear and defined
Having a clearly defined set of goals will make the structuring of a RFP easier – scope and questions should be focused around the objectives you want to be achieved by the service delivered

  • TIP #2: Engage with stakeholders and senior sponsors to get to the root of what’s important to them, along with what this change will achieve and set specific goals accordingly. If you have followed TIP #1, why not have a supplier run a workshop with this aim in mind?

3. Don’t be afraid to engage with suppliers pre-RFP
A pre-RFP relationship can benefit both parties; the buyer gains from the supplier’s experience and can start to assess cultural fit and values (we are in the people business after all!); the supplier can better understand the buyer’s needs and goals 

  • TIP #3: Engage, share and collaborate with suppliers pre-RFP; this will lead to more focused and meaningful RFP solution responses as suppliers will better understand your needs and goals. The better buyers and bidders understand each other, the more likely the successful solution will deliver an impactful and valuable service in shorter timeframes

4. Following best practice
A topic in itself, but there are a few areas where the adherence to best practice is key to getting the very best from your RFP. Remember – if you put out a poorly structured RFP you can only hope to get poor responses. Harsh I know, but logical when you think about it.

  • TIP #4: At a minimum follow best practice guidance for: 
    • Timelines: 3 to 4 weeks
    • Amount of questions : Depends on the scope of the RFP, but the more focused the better
    • Scoring: Make sure this is an accurate representation of your goals
    • Engagement: Set Q&A calls are more productive than email only
    • Objectives/goals: Be as clear and detailed as possible
    • Supplier communication: A robust pre-RFP process should be conducted to equip bidders with all the information they require

5. Getting internal stakeholder buy-in
Making changes to and bringing in new people can be a very emotive subject and each department will have a different view. To successfully achieve the solution you’re looking for while also meeting your timelines for supplier selection, it is crucial to be clear with stakeholders about the decision-making hierarchy and their role within the process.

  • TIP #5: Identify key stakeholder groups and only bring into the process those central to the goals of the RFP. Focus on getting the right stakeholders engaged by bringing them in to briefings, presentations and workshops from the get go – again, if you have followed TIP #1 you could have suppliers support with the planning and running of these
  • EXTRA TIP #6: Setting stakeholders expectations on how and by whom the decision will be made is key to avoiding protracted, ‘committee’ decisions, which make timelines creep and can be based on individual needs, not on the RFP’s overall goals. A committee should evaluate and recommend, an individual should decide

Use our experience to help structure your next RFP

We have responded to literally hundreds of RFPs. We’ve been quite successful too with our responses, if I can be so bold! We’ve helped many Private and Public sector organisations scope and structure their RFPs to help them better achieve their goals, and grow as a result.

We relish the excitement and pride we feel when we submit our proposal as part of an RFP process that has been engaging and collaborative. That’s when clients benefit from our very best work, ultimately constructing a solution that will deliver meaningful results and true value.   

If you’ve found our tips useful and want further advice and support, or simply an unbiased view on your proposed RFP structure, then please speak to me today on Karina.Townley@guidantgroup.com or 07920 862 252. 

[Infographic] 5 tips for structuring an RFP for outsourced recruitment services

To continue with the theme of sharing, we have also produced an infographic version of the 5 tips contained in this blog article - please share across your social media profiles, as you never know who you might help!

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