Why we don’t respond to RFPs (Requests for Proposal)

Depressed businessman looking at his computer

We occasionally receive an email asking us to submit a proposal for a project, with the objectives and specifications all lined out.  We usually politely decline to submit the proposal.

I thought I would share why we typically decline to respond to these requests to help you understand why we didn’t submit a proposal to your RFP.   I also hope that it might help you make better decisions throughout the process.

During an RFP, a company describes what they need and requests a price from multiple providers.  We typically receive requests that describe needs for an ecommerce site, a web-store, or a custom integration.  After defining their needs, they will then ask for a price on the project.   Easy enough, right?

This process skips right past the most important step for us,  getting to know each other and building a relationship that allows us to recommend the right approach and to provide better long-term service.

There are several reasons we prefer a different approach.

We value relationships over projects

Most of our client relationships start with a consulting engagement.  As you can read in the About Us section of our site, we believe a solid relationship starts with listening. The first thing we do when approached with a new project is ask questions, and then listen. A LOT.   We don’t plan, design, or build anything until we fully understand a customer’s needs.  RFPs are geared towards quickly getting to the price.  But until we take the time to listen, we can’t provide adequate recommendations, much less an accurate price.

Our existing clients are top priority

We believe most of our time should be spent serving our existing clients.  New business is, of course, an important part of our company.  But many of our clients have been with us since the mid-1980’s and maintaining long-lasting client relationships is a core value of Excel Software Services.  Time spent doing the research to submit a proper proposal outside the context of relationship just doesn’t make sense to us.

Custom development starts with evaluating needs

Companies come to us because of our innate ability to solve problems. We are often hired to help clients figure out what they need in order to accomplish their objectives.  This is nearly impossible when responding to an RFP.   We much prefer to do a project analysis, where we get to know the company and understand the objectives and challenges.   Then we can make recommendations to help them reach their goals. Bypassing this important step leaves us guessing at a proper solution based on inadequate information; which is bad for the client and bad for us.

We would be happy to get to know you and talk about your business objectives to see if our discovery process would be a good fit.