RFPs, Love, and Online Dating

RFPs, Love, and Online Dating – what could these 3 possibly have in common? Well yes, all 3 of these can lead to broken hearts, empty bank accounts, and overall misery, but let’s look at it from another angle. Each of them also follow very specific processes to reach equally specific end goals. And to be honest, when you look at it more closely, the RFP process could learn a thing or two from online dating.

Let’s look at each of them and see what sticks out…

While most online dating processes go like this:

  1. Create a dating profile
  2. Send out messages to potential dates/mates on the site
  3. Receive responses from interested parties
  4. Decide “most suitable” mate
  5. Go out on a date (usually a LOT of dates) to determine if the person/relationship is worth investing in
  6. Commit (or don’t) once you’ve gotten to know the person

Most typical RFP processes look like this:

  1. Create RFP requirements document
  2. Send out to 3-5 potential vendors
  3. Receive responses from interested vendors
  4. Decide “most suitable” vendor for project from responses
  5. Commit to vendor and begin project

Do you see the one BIG difference here? There’s no “dating” in the RFP process.

What would you say to a friend who decided to marry someone based on an online profile? Most likely, you’d tell them that the idea is some kind of crazy, that there would be VERY little chance it would work out, so maybe they should think about getting to know the person a little better first.

So why do we, as educated business leaders and decision makers, believe that partnering up a vendor based on RFP responses will work? There’s no get-to-know-you phase in the RFP process, yet it ends with making a long-term decision (and huge financial investment) after simply reading an RFP response. Now THAT sounds like some kind of crazy.

Next time, I’ll discuss some ideas for lowering the company and vendor “divorce rate” while increasing the number of successful partnerships and projects that take place at your company. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, I recommend reading Why RFPs Won’t Solve Your Software Problem before you consider using an RFP for your next project.