Suppliers and Vendors – This Rant is for You!
In running a recent RFP, my business partner and I had a phone call with a potential supplier. He asked the question, is this a real RFP or has the outcome already been decided? He also asked if we only included him because of the reference that was given to us by a colleague. Seriously – WTF?!
Neither were true, but the first question really burned me. What have some of us being doing to not only discredit ourselves, but the broader sourcing profession? Who was to blame for these rules and regulations that didn’t use common sense? And what could be done about it to find a middle ground?
I understand three bids and a buy for tactical procurement. I also understand the need to RFP out a category every 2-3 years. In the least we need to ensure quality is maintained and to find out if there better solutions/pricing/quality available and reassess contracting terms and conditions. But at what cost to suppliers? And have we fully thought through the consequences of these activities?
Being complicit to policies without being direct about your true intentions – could mean you are wasting time and resources, including your own.
So the question remains, is there discretion within any of the sourcing organizations, or are we following these rules blindly? And if there are no exceptions, what can we do to ensure the suppliers aren’t wasting too much time and effort on fruitless endeavors? If we don’t use some common sense during these practices, we too will be crawling our way through a pipe full of excrement to be able to escape. Just like Andy Dufresne did to gain his freedom.
So let’s pretend it’s company policy and you have no choice in the matter. You have to get bids or proposals due to policies and procedures – otherwise you’re out of a job. Fair enough. I would never suggest insubordination. I would like to put forth the idea of common sense and the ability to be fair. There is something to be said about doing the right thing.
If there is already a chosen winner, it’s ok. Just solicit proposals with integrity, and let the suppliers know ahead of time this is your endgame. Then provide them with actual opportunities in return for wasting their time with these proposals/quotes. Nobody should have to work for free, regardless of company policy. And if they have completed many in the past, you can rest assure they will stop eventually. Negative ROI’s can’t sustain any business for long.
Business practices and standard procedures are useful until they become counterproductive.
Sponsor a supplier day. Give business partners/suppliers company, brand, or department specific information like preferences, needs or general insight so they can actually win a bid. Or how about providing them with a contact internally for a demo or scheduling them a capabilities presentation? These things are simple enough in return for what they’ve done. I really don’t think it’s too much to ask. And sadly, I’m pretty sure it’s not being done.
Now, I understand I am in a new sourcing organization and am not under rules and regulations like many of my colleagues. In my opinion, this shouldn’t make a difference. Respect, integrity and fairness are easy to provide regardless of circumstances. Therefore, treat your business partners, vendors or suppliers how you would want them to treat you. Otherwise, you’ll end up like the Warden. Dying alone in your office from a self-inflicted wound.