Sole Sourcing With Your Standard RFP?

How Should You Request Proposals When Sole Sourcing?

PurchTips Edition #362 – Click here for the printer-friendly version

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NLPA Member Question: If we write an RFP for a product that is provided by only a sole source, how we can get their good response in terms of price, delivery, etc.?

RFP’s are best suited to competitive situations. In sole source situations, it is important for the procurement department to foster collaborative relationships with suppliers. You cannot treat a supplier like a commodity and expect the supplier to shower you with partner-like treatment.

In the context of a collaborative relationship, it is often better to discuss and negotiate terms without issuing a formal RFP. Much of the same information – specification/statement of work, terms, quantities, etc. – will be provided to the supplier, but it will be in more of a collaborative conversation rather than an arms-length RFP process.

NLPA Member Question: What is your suggestion for handling bidders that disregard your requirement to use the proposal/quote form provided by the buyer or that insist on using their own proposal/quote form?

If you have many good supplier options and your quote form is well thought-out, then it might be best to disqualify those suppliers. However, if you find suppliers routinely balking at your quote form in various situations, I recommend revising your quote form to be more supplier-friendly so that you can better create competition. If you don’t have many good supplier options, you may have to make your quote form “preferred” rather than “mandatory.” And, if you’re sole sourcing, then the importance of having a standard form for easy comparison is diminished.

My last piece of advice is to never assume that you are in a sole source situation. Sole sourcing is seldom fun. Do your homework and see if you can identify a secondary source – you just may surprise yourself!

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Copyright 2016. This article is the property of the Next Level Purchasing Association and may not be copied or republished in any form without the express written consent of the Next Level Purchasing Association. Click here to request republishing permission.

By Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

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