7 Red Flags that you Should Not Participate in this RFP

RFPs -requests for proposal- are often used by procurement to choose suppliers. They are now a very common and accepted tool in legal services. However, participating in an RFP takes a lot of time and effort. Lawyers often ask how they can tell whether or not to participate in a particular RFP.

I strongly believe that few legal procurement-issued RFPs are “wired” — as in promised to someone else already: Even if the company already has a preferred firm in mind, clients can be won over if they get more compelling offers. Legal procurement’s corporate mandate is not to support particular suppliers, but to make choices more objective and get the best price. Procurement hence likes to regularly bring in new suppliers.

Having said that, how can you protect yourself against tire-kicking? Here are 7 red flags that tell you that you may not have a good chance to win this RFP:

  1. You are not allowed to contact staff in case you have questions.
  2. Very short and inflexible deadlines. This can favor an incumbent firm who is expecting the bid.
  3. Evaluation is outside the norm. For example, if pricing is typically weighed at 40% and on this RFP it’s at 10%. What’s the reason?
  4. Too much detail that makes the RFP overwhelming.
  5. Page limitations that make it impossible to respond to all of the requirements. Only an incumbent firm will know what to focus on and what they can skip without being “noncompliant.”
  6. The RFP asks for a fixed fee but refuses to give appropriate information for proper scoping.
  7. “Processes” specified in the RFP can’t be mapped unless you have worked with the company before and know how they work.

How can you protect yourself and avoid wasting your time? Have a solid, strategic go/no-go approach to RFP participation and stick to it.

If you want to know more about legal procurement and RFPs, attend the BUYING LEGAL COUNCIL conference in New York on 2/2/15. Click here for more information on the program.

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Buying Legal Council | Legal Procurement Conference in NYC

Join legal procurement and operations professionals, in-house counsel, private practice lawyers, and law firm executives for a day of professional legal procurement.

Our interactice program centers on pricing and more effective collaboration between law firms and clients.

What you’ll learn:

  • How much should matters cost? Hear law firms and clients on what’s a fair price for legal services and how they determine how much a matter should cost. Participate in an on-stage legal pricing challenge to price a matter.
  • How can collaboration between law firms and clients be improved? Learn what legal procurement professionals are looking for when they send out RFPs, and understand what are red flags for them. Hear from law firm executives how they wish procurement would change their RFPs.

This conference is made for you to network, exchange thoughts, experiences, and expectations.

For more information on topics and speakers, click here.

To sign up, click here.

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Legal Procurement 101: Earning the legal department’s trust

Sourcing legal services is quite the challenge for any procurement professional. Suggestions to use “normal” procurement tools (such as RFPs) are often dismissed by your colleagues in the legal department as “potentially rocking the boat” or actions “that could upset our law firms.”

So how can you earn the trust of your colleagues in the legal department?

Read our first newsletter/”cheat sheet”/desk reference and learn what seasoned legal procurement professional Susan O’Brien of Sourcing Logics recommends:

★ Do your research and understand the market offering; provide new insight into what other clients are paying.

★ Work on ancillary services such as court reporting first, win points with good market comparison and negotiations.

★ Offer to check the law firms’ compliance with your company’s Outside Counsel Billing Guidelines. Now is a good time to do that so there are no (disallowed) upward rate adjustments on January 1.

★ Offer to write the engagement letters for new matters or update and distribute refreshed Billing Guidelines.

Download your own copy now: Legal Procurement 101: Earning the legal department’s trust.

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