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Common mistakes in rugged computer RFPs

RFPs are designed to result in the most cost-competitive solution for a business. However, sometimes an ineffective process can lead to ineffective solutions. In this blog, we’ll look at three ways RFP processes can fail – planning, documentation and decision criteria.

Pitfall one – insufficient or bad planning

You need to put out a RFP for rugged computers, but you have a stack of other projects on the go and keep putting it off. Days, or even weeks, go by and suddenly there’s a small window to put everything together.

Because you don’t have much time you rush the paperwork, can’t fit in engaging the relevant stakeholders, like the user community, and don’t get the chance to scan the market to see what’s available. As a result, the RFP falls flat and you end up with poor bids.

Another mistake in the planning stage is not having a good working relationship between departments involved in the RFP, such as IT, operations and procurement. This can lead to misunderstandings, delays and confusion.

Pitfall two – unclear or incomprehensible documentation

At the heart of any RFP process is the documentation. It needs to be clear, comprehensive and easy to understand. However, this is not always the case, especially if you’re a victim of pitfall number one.

Over the 25 years we’ve been in business we’ve seen a lot of copy and pasting. The easiest thing is to use the same specification the company issued last time. Quick, simple and painless. Well painless now, but probably not in the future. Technology will have moved on and you could be left behind. For example, projective capacitive touch supersedes resistive touch and cellular is replacing WIFI. This behaviour could result in serious problems particularly when it comes to public tenders where the process is very strict and changing a specification in the middle of a tender cannot be done.

It’s also tempting to search the internet for similar RFPs and copy and paste from there. However, there’s no guarantee that the source document is from a business that has the same set up as yours, with the same challenges and the same business plan. As a result, you’ll end up with the wrong specification and the wrong equipment.

Sometimes, you’ve written your RFP documents from scratch, but they’re hard to understand so suppliers can’t determine what you want. On the other hand, if you include too much detail you can exclude a lot of companies from bidding by being too specific.

Getting the specification wrong can result in serious problems particularly when it comes to public RFPs where the process is very strict and it’s not possible to change a specification in the middle of the process.

Pitfall three – wrong decision criteria

Even if you’ve planned well and written the best documentation, the good work can be undone by utilizing bad decision criteria.

We’re all out for a bargain. As consumers we’re attracted by offers like buy one get one free, 20 percent off and so on, but we’re also aware that buying on price alone can lead to some disastrous purchases. And it’s the same in business.

Being short-sighted and buying purely on the price tag can lead to cheap rugged devices that are not up to the job and quickly break down. And not looking beyond the upfront cost could mean you haven’t thought about things like service and warranty, so you are left with obsolete and useless devices.

In some countries reverse auctions are common in place of traditional RFPs. In these online bidding auctions, bidders can see each other’s pricing and are activity encouraged to undercut the lowest bid. But cheap doesn’t mean best. Cheap can mean regular breakdowns, an unhappy workforce and earlier end-of-life than more expensive solutions, all resulting in poor productivity and increased operational costs.

A purchase is always a trade off

It’s not very often in life that you will find a product or service that ticks all your boxes. There is normally a trade-off in terms of budget, timeline, migration path, user acceptance, future plans and so on. But with solid planning, good documentation and the correct decision criteria you can get the optimal solution for you.

We’ve bid on lots of RFPs and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Now you’ve got an idea of what can go wrong, read our article about how to improve the purchasing process for rugged computers. And get in contact to find out more about how we can make sure your business gets the best rugged solution.

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Peter Lundgren

Peter Lundgren

November 25, 2020

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