What are the top 25 questions to ask in your RFIs and RFPs?
Andrew Erlichman

4 minutes

What are the top 25 questions to ask in your RFIs and RFPs?

So, you’ve decided to manage your contingent workforce through an MSP. What’s next?

For those who haven’t issued a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an MSP specifically, it’s important to know the nuances of contingent workforce information requests. And for those of you who manage these tenders regularly, it’s always useful to have a handy checklist to work from.

Here’s our RFI and RFP checklist for procurement and HR teams.

What’s an RFI and what should it include?

At request for information, or RFI stage you may still be working with a relatively large shortlist but want to whittle it down to only those with the right credentials, capabilities and experience. Some businesses decide to skip this phase altogether if they are confident in the abilities of their shortlist.

The top things to have on your RFI checklist are simple:

1. Company size

2. Reach

3. Headcount.

At this stage you could also ask suppliers to share:

4. Case studies that align with your company situation (ie by industry, scope, problem, or     objectives)

5. Examples of delivery models and available talent channels

6. The workforce management technologies they partner with

7. Supplier partnership methodology

8. How they recruit people

9. Why are they a good fit for us? How they go to market

10. Their approach to DEI.

These questions won’t provide any detail around how the MSP will work with your business specifically. Instead, they help you shape a picture of who you will be working with both an operational and cultural perspective. You can start understanding if they are your type of people and can you see yourself or your team working with them.

Red flags

At RFI stage, unsuitable suppliers can be removed from the selection process if there are any red flags. Some organisations, like those in the public sector, need to ask questions to eliminate risky businesses.

For example:

11. Is the organisation under investigation for environmental offences?

12. Are there any legal activities or violations that the business is currently facing?

What’s an RFP and what should it include?

A request for proposals, or RFP, should be carefully designed so that the answers provided help you make the best buying decision. At this stage, you are no longer asking ‘what can you do’ but ‘what will you do?’ and ‘how is that going to work?’

It’s important at this stage to tailor your RFP. Suppliers can only work with what you give them. Too little information and the supplier won’t be able to demonstrate their real value.

Questions need to cover:

13. What solution (including any technology or VMS) are you recommending and why??
14. What’s the delivery model?

15. What’s its differentiator?

16. How will it benefit our business?

17. How will it be implemented and how long will that take?

18. How will the technology work?

19. What insights and analytics will be provided and on what frequency?

20. How will you manage talent attraction and the recruitment process? Through direct sourcing or supply chain management, for example.

21. How will you champion and monitor DEI?

22. How will you ensure continuous improvement and innovation?

23. How will the account be managed from a governance and compliance perspective?

24. Can you share customer references? These should ideally come from firms in the same sector or of a similar size and organisational structure as your own or deal with similar pain points.

25. What will it cost?

Set expectations

It’s important you include a detailed project scope as the more information and guidance you give the more prescriptive solution. It’s also good practice to outline any internal restrictions or non-negotiables.

Share your goals, objectives and any historic or live worker data. The more background information, insight and data you provide, the better the quality of the proposals will be – and the more likely it is that the RFP will be priced correctly.

To get an accurately costed proposal, make clear and stipulate the type of commercial pricing model you need.

Beware generic RFPs

If you’re looking for a quality MSP partner, it helps if you use your RFP to really set the scene and illustrate what you are trying to achieve.

Don’t worry about being ‘right’ or having all the answers. Be clear on the challenges and problems and what you want to achieve. It’s the bidder’s job to fill these blanks.

Share your vision of how you see a managed service programme creating a meaningful difference for you. Potential MSPs should read an RFP and think ‘I get it’ and ‘I want to be a part of it’. This is unlikely to be the case if you use a generic ‘off the shelf’ template.

A copy and paste of a 100+ question RFP doesn’t get the best out of the market. If you ask for responses to a list of stock questions. Surprise! You’ll receive stock answers.

Instead, share a condensed document of what you really need to capture the imagination of the bidder so that you get back a tailored and suitable solutions that works for you.

Be realistic in your timeframes for response. Allow at least a three-week from issue to response deadline. A short timescale will only mean poorly researched, prepared and vanilla proposal.

Content and clarity

We’ve responded to thousands of RFPs across all industries. We’ve seen some incredibly well thought-out, clear-minded RFPs. We’ve also seen many that lack content, clarity and a clear understanding of what success looks like.

The carefully thought-out questions in your RFP should be designed to ascertain the quality, speed, cost and risk of the propositions from each provider. If your brief doesn’t meet this criteria, it’ll be difficult for partners to propose a solution that brings the benefits you need for your business.

A tailored request lets us demonstrate that we understand your issues and concerns and detail how we’ll address them in a personalised way.

Now that you've been wowed by the "best for you providers" a thorough discussion will help you really drill down to the best fit based potential cultural, commercial and solution alignment.

Download our in-depth guide to create and RFP for outsource workforce solution Part 1 and Part 2.

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