Due diligence is required when purchasing office furniture designed for 24/7/365 mission-critical environments. The furniture is a significant long-term investment in your people, your customers, and your equipment. You want to get the purchase right.
Does that mean going through the Request for Proposal Process? Not necessarily. Let me share a few issues with the RFP process along with other options for purchasing.
Why to Skip the RFP
The RFP process is notoriously time consuming, but it’s also limiting. You spend hours—maybe weeks—figuring out what the furniture needs to do in your dispatch center, utility command center, or hospital. Then you ask suppliers to respond, wait weeks for the proposals to come in, and then spend weeks evaluating the proposals.
The vendors, who spend hours responding to the specifics in the RFP, are in many ways restricted by the format. Vendors may have innovative solutions and surprising new features that never come up in the RFP—because the RFP writers didn’t know to ask about them. At Xybix, for example, we know that the personal climate controls are the No. 1 feature that users love. But is anyone going to put “personal fan and heater at each workstation” on an RFP? Not likely, especially if the RFP writers don’t know this recent innovation exists.
“The modern process for building RFPs all too easily creates a blissful ignorance that the buyer knows the solution and tends to kill innovation and new ideas.”
—Supply Chain Minded, an online community for supply chain professionals
Preapproved Vendors Expand Your Options
Fortunately, there are efficient and effective ways to do your research, find the best value, meet your needs, and provide a few surprises along the way. The key is to work with a preapproved vendor, allowing your organization to bypass the RFP process. Once a vendor is selected, you can really dive in and discover exactly what you need.
Purchasing Strategies Beyond the RFP
In this blog, we’re providing an overview of purchasing strategies beyond the RFP. Over the following months, we’ll dig deeper into the various options. In the meantime, a handy info sheet is available for download—and feel free to reach out to Xybix for advice any time.
- GSA: The federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA) prequalifies vendors to ensure quality and negotiates the best price. Federal government agencies can purchase office furniture off GSA’s Schedule 71 list of vendors without further review. To use these contracts, work with the vendor.
- State Contracts: States may prequalify vendors. Counties, cities, and other governmental agencies within the state can purchase off these contracts without the need for an RFP. As with GSA, work with the vendor on the contract.
- NASPO Cooperative Purchasing Organization: The National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) completes the due diligence and prequalifies the vendors. Government agencies in participating states may purchase off NASPO contracts, called Participating Addendums (PAs), with confidence in the prequalified vendors.
- H-GAC Contracts: The well-known Houston-Galveston Area Council is a cooperative that collects due diligence from government agencies and for-profit businesses, preapproves vendors, and then provides purchasing contracts that are easy for customers to use. Government agencies and for-profit business may rely on the due diligence of the contracts and purchase without an RFP.
- Piggybacking: Organizations that lack the time, resources, or inclination to create an RFP may be able to leverage an RFP from a similar organization and project. Any organization whose procurement process allows them to rely on other’s due diligence can benefit from piggybacking (in fact, some RFPs indicate that they may be used by other organizations). Start by asking the vendor about recent projects that are similar to yours.
- General Purchasing Organization (GPO): A GPO such as Vizient or HealthTrust prequalifies healthcare vendors based on quality, availability, and price, and provides purchasing agreements. Healthcare organizations may purchase from GPO contracts.
- Sole Sourcing: If an organization has a specific need that can only be met by one vendor, it may be able to bypass an RFP and purchase from that vendor. This might happen when using patented technologies, upgrading existing equipment, or adding new equipment that needs to match what you have.
If your organization’s procurement process allows for purchasing without an RFP, using one of these methods can ensure top quality and price—while encouraging creative solutions, streamlining the process, and saving money.