A post over at Enter Content Here called The RFP is Dead! Long Live the RFP! talks about the weaknesses of the traditional RFP process. Everyone has a different take on this, but the way I approach it is this: send me your RFP, and I’ll respond. If I don’t get the contract, no hard feelings, send me the next one. I do this three or four times, but after that, if I’ve spent time evaluating your RFPs but haven’t yielded any business, you’re either selecting vendors exclusively on the basis of price, or fishing for information you can give to your low cost (offshore) developer. Obviously either case is a waste of my time, so I’ll decline further requests from you.
I thought the most salient point in the post was his remark that the RFP process was by definition adversarial. I like to create business relationships and partnerships (rather than be viewed as just another cost center), so I thought this was a perfect way of putting it (and the example of “finding a spouse using the RFP process” was the perfect example). In general, you really don’t want to just respond to RFPs with a simple price quote (because it encourages selection on the basis of price); you want to argue why you’re the best fit for the client’s needs.