Skip to main content

what to know when developing an RFP for a talent solution.

As a talent leader, optimizing resources is one of your organization’s top priorities. To help fulfill this mandate, you’ve decided that a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) solution is the ideal step for your organization. The next step, then, is to put together a Request for Proposal (RFP) to help you find out more about a potential solution and identify a suitable partner to manage your talent acquisition process.

When contacting potential supplier partners for information, you should understand some key criteria:

  • What do you want to achieve from the exercise?
  • Do you already have an understanding of which providers you think have the capability to deliver the services required?
  • Have you gathered enough relevant information around your current worker population?
  • Do you have the resources to review and support the bid process through its conclusion?
  • Do you have a mandate to effect change?

Next, how are you going to approach the market? There are a number of third-party procurement/buying organizations that run bid processes on behalf of companies, and many are managed through online portals (e.g., Ariba, Bluelight, Delta). Online portals provide an advantage to the buyer through automating the process and making it easier to standardize bidder responses. At the same time, they can depersonalize the process and make it appear highly commoditized and price-driven to the bidders.

When putting together proposal documents to elicit responses from potential bidders, it is important to state clearly what it is you wish to achieve from the process and to provide as much information as possible around the scope of the opportunity (scope, size of program, key locations, systems, objectives). Without this, potential bidders may often miss the point (especially those that have little to no pre-engagement with your organization), and you are likely to receive generic responses.

Make sure bidders don’t have to read between the lines when putting their responses together and that they are pricing against clearly defined criteria. If not, you may receive either a number of clarification questions or solutions and pricing not aligned with what you are seeking. It then becomes impossible to compare, as bidders may misinterpret your needs. Poorly constructed RFP documents may also cause bidders to become disinterested and lead to potential partners declining to participate in the bid process.

strive for clarity in your documents

Bidding organizations invest a lot of time in proposals and, therefore, have clear qualification criteria when considering whether to bid for an opportunity. Having a strong brand and large amounts of staffing spend does not automatically ensure a bidder will submit a response, and the fewer responses received, the fewer you have to benchmark against and the less negotiating power for you.

Be clear and concise in your RFP documentation. Offer up the opportunity for bidders to ask questions. Be as open and transparent as possible in your clarification responses, and limit the amount of answers that state “not known” or “to be provided at a later date.” Build in time for clarification calls when possible, and provide enough notice for bidders to respond to the volume of questions asked because abbreviated timelines will dilute the quality of the answers.

When sending out an RFP covering different countries and/or regions, be aware of cultural nuances. In some instances, a one-size-fits-all approach may not be appropriate, particularly because MSP/RPO market maturity varies across regions. 

If you procure from a centralized location, take time to include considerations from all local stakeholders, and make sure that the tone, language and content of the bid are relevant for all regions in scope. For example, if you request pricing input for a global response, are all statutory charges in your pricing template appropriate for each country, or do they need to be adjusted for each location?

Within the RFP, provide a proposed procurement timetable. You should adhere to this as much as possible, with clear communications made when it is apparent that milestones may slip. When moving through the process, there should be criteria that all internal stakeholders agree on regarding why bidders are shortlisted. Notify unsuccessful bidders, and provide them an opportunity to clarify the reasons for their non-selection. 

Make sure all appropriate stakeholders have an opportunity to review and participate in supplier selection (or briefing) meetings. Their participation ensures your final decision has buy-in from all parties. It also raises the level of support for the chosen provider when implementation takes place.

By following some basic steps and engaging bidders in the right way, you can ensure your outsourced partner is the best choice and the one to deliver the most effective solution.