The Least Artistic Method to Rent Individuals – A Listing Aside

Bear in mind highschool? Let’s say (hypothetically, in fact) somebody handed you a word at school that was really a secret invitation to a celebration at somebody’s home. You realized {that a} bunch of individuals had been invited, some you knew, some you didn’t, some you appreciated, and a few you’d grown bored with speaking to. You ended up going to the social gathering anyway.

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Everybody was carrying their coolest garments, exhibiting off, and making an attempt to be smarter and funnier than one another. However the true motive you went was merely to get the eye of an individual you had been concerned about. You will have even scared up the nerve to really ask them out, and on uncommon events, they could have even stated sure. When that occurred you had been over the moon, however admittedly nervous. However most instances, they only ignored you they usually went to the dance with another person whilst you sat at residence and listened to Rush by your self. (I imply, nothing.)

I believed these days had been behind me.

For those who work in any form of service business you’ve undoubtedly come throughout the Request For Proposal, or “RFP.” The RFP course of has turn out to be a typical by which organizations solicit aggressive bids. At its core, the RFP course of is an try to stage the enjoying discipline and decrease bias. Everyone seems to be held to the identical necessities—no particular remedy, no rule bending. In return, the group issuing the RFP is ready to choose a vendor by evaluating apples to apples. That’s the speculation, anyway.

Many non-profits, greater schooling establishments, and authorities businesses are literally required to subject RFPs.

For non-profits, the drive to safe aggressive pricing is an financial necessity. Moreover, it’s vital for non-profits to make sure that their donors and supporters are assured that their funds are spent in accordance with the group’s mission.

So far as authorities businesses go, properly, it’s like chocolate and peanut butter. The bidding course of is just about automated. I’ve at all times been inquisitive about whether or not there are state or federal legal guidelines that require a bid course of for presidency businesses. I couldn’t discover any substantive data to help that for this text, so in the event you work for a authorities company and might shed some mild on this for us, please add your two cents within the feedback space.

You’re usually invited to take part within the RFP course of by somebody with “contract,” “procurement,” or “sourcing” of their title. Typically, you’re requested to entry a secret web site with a secret password the place you discover hyperlinks to a bunch of secret paperwork. Or, you get an e-mail with an connected ZIP archive loaded with goodies. You don’t know what number of others are aware about the key, however you’re not alone.

A Christmas sweater or a Huge Jim Sports activities Camper#section2

You begin to weigh your choices. This could possibly be the most effective factor ever. The cash could possibly be superb. It might hold your workforce busy for months. Or, the calls for of the undertaking or shopper could possibly be not possible to satisfy. The variety of stakeholders you’ll have to realize buy-in from would possibly fill a highschool auditorium. And in the long run, you might be forbidden from even selling the work.

At Glad Cog, we see our fair proportion of RFPs. In reality, we’re responding to a couple of them as I write this text, and we in all probability might be doing the identical months from now. We’re at all times honored and humbled that organizations suppose extremely sufficient of our capabilities to ask us to take part.

Regardless of this, I wouldn’t be solely truthful if I stated RFPs had been a supply of, let’s say, pleasure. RFPs are like these odd highschool social gathering moments. It’s form of like getting a sweater for Christmas as a child. It’s a gift, however it ain’t no Huge Jim Sports activities Camper.

I’m not the one one I do know who isn’t thrilled with RFPs. And it’s not as a result of I’m lazy and I don’t wish to do the legwork to answer them. When it will get all the way down to it, I really feel that RFPs are merely the least artistic strategy to rent artistic folks. The rigidity of the method, and the dearth of significant dialogue makes this little greater than a sport of roulette.

Heartburn-inducing RFP hallmarks#section3


An RFP, along with describing the enterprise should be fulfilled, might be accompanied by various necessities and specs, together with the necessity to present or fill out:

  • Immigration/safety types/clearances
  • Historic monetary studies (I’ve ideas about that.)
  • Proof of insurance coverage coverages
  • Tax compliance types
  • Employees bios/resumes
  • Examples of comparable undertaking expertise or case research
  • Lists of references
  • Proposed undertaking schedules and milestones
  • Price projections
  • Charge schedules
  • Non-disclosure types
  • Non-compete types

And that is all earlier than you even get to write down your proposal.

RFPs may also specify a bunch of very peculiar stipulations. Examples embrace:

  • Submitting a number of printed copies of the proposal by way of registered or categorical mail (usually requiring the printouts to be labeled “unique” and “copy”)
  • Submitting PDF variations to a selected e-mail tackle with a selected topic line, similar to “RFP Response for provide TF-124453-G.”
  • Requiring submission by a selected time on a selected date, with something late (even a minute late) being topic to disqualification
  • Requiring proposals to be double-spaced utilizing a selected typeface and level dimension
  • Requiring that the proposal response not exceed a sure variety of pages
  • Requests to know what your workplace sq. footage is (I do know, proper?)
  • Requests for “images” (their phrases, not mine) of earlier initiatives

I’ve heard of individuals receiving RFPs that require you to connect a number of copies of your proposal PDF to an e-mail so copies might be supplied to inner groups. A number of. Situations. Of. The. Identical. Attachment.

Are these particulars merely annoying, or do they really hinder the method of engagement? Nicely, each. Enterprise growth is pricey. Each minute you spend estimating, writing proposals, creating methods, and performing pitches prices cash. If you waste time making an attempt to fulfill meaningless or extraneous necessities on high of all of that, you inevitably find yourself having to cost extra on your work.

Now don’t get me fallacious, I’m not saying asking for issues like references, bios, or related undertaking expertise is unreasonable. However assembling that data and re-packaging it when it already exists for public consumption is. At Glad Cog, we publish bios of all of our folks on our web site, and we’re very diligent about publishing case research of our most related work. It’s essentially the most correct, up-to-date data we publish. There are occasions after I suspect some RFP issuers haven’t glanced at our web site. They’ve merely heard of us someplace and added us to the distribution record to meet an inner requirement. Or so I believe.

Creativity squashers#section5

Our workforce is made up of designers, builders, and strategists. We closely depend on our proposals to carry out “present and inform” for us after we can’t in individual. We spend a whole lot of time honing our language, articulating our options, and really making the proposals themselves lovely. In reality, we spent a number of months overhauling all of our doc kinds to maximise readability, consistency, and adherence to our model.

If an RFP specifies that you will need to ship your ideas in double-spaced, 12 pt. Arial in ten pages or much less, isn’t that short-circuiting the creativity the RFP issuer seeks within the first place? It’s powerful to articulate your ideas with arbitrary web page limitations in place, and it’s not possible to look fairly in double-spaced, 12 pt. Arial. There have been various instances after we merely needed to offer inline, Dribbble-esque display grabs in our response, solely to have that chance forbidden by the RFP specs. In reality, we might have been disqualified had we chosen to take action.

For those who’re issuing an RFP and also you’re anticipating a artistic agency to offer a artistic response, properly, allow them to be artistic. In the event that they wish to ship a letter-pressed proposal or submit a video to Vimeo, wouldn’t that assist them stand out? That’s how folks get on TV on a regular basis.

Upfront “artistic pondering”#section6

Ah, the request for “artistic pondering” as a part of a proposal response. Some RFPs count on it, some don’t. You would possibly contemplate this speculative or “spec” work. Our default stance has at all times been to not entertain requests for spec work, and the explanations are properly documented. A potential shopper asking an internet designer to revamp their residence web page with out realizing a factor about them is a slippery slope, and it inherently devalues your position as a artistic skilled.

Nonetheless, there are situations the place the issuer of an RFP has put some ideas collectively themselves, and are on the lookout for enter or strategies about them within the proposal. It could possibly be to touch upon some comps that they’ve assembled, or to supply some suggestions based mostly on some strategic objectives. I believe these situations are worthy of consideration, so long as the artistic skilled shouldn’t be giving freely their secret sauce or spending inordinate quantities of time.

Ideas for people who subject RFPs#section7

Deliver again the golf course#section8

To advertise uniformity and consistency, RFPs usually low cost communication. I do know of companies which have received very massive contracts ensuing from RFPs with out ever assembly or talking with anybody on the issuer facet. It’s like marrying somebody you found on an web courting website after buying and selling only a “wink.”

Talking from expertise, we’ve had our most significant enterprise relationships after we communicate with our clients-to-be first. These conversations can occur in various methods. You’ll be able to orchestrate a telephone name. You’ll be able to have a videoconference on Skype, FaceTime, or iChat. Or, in the most effective case state of affairs, you may meet them in individual with actual handshakes, awkward pauses, and all.

How about contemplating earmarking a couple of grand in your undertaking finances to pay to convey potential enterprise companions in to speak nose to nose? Or provide to separate the prices? They’ll know you’re critical, and if you find yourself talking the identical language and even commerce some laughs, you might have discovered your self a match to be ok with.

Patrick Russell has an attention-grabbing absorb his article What’s Mistaken with the RFP the place he states, “The [RFP] course of is taken into account an enchancment over the offers made between CEOs on the golf course.”

I suppose I’m saying convey again the golf course.

Loosen up#section9

Or, as Sergeant Hulka so eloquently said within the film Stripes, “Loosen up, Francis.”

You get extra out of individuals while you allow them to do their factor. I’ve a good friend whose dad and mom raised him like veal. He couldn’t play outdoors for very lengthy, he needed to research 4 hours a day (even on weekends), he couldn’t watch TV, or speak on the telephone.

To make him the most effective he could possibly be, his dad and mom really stifled him by imposing so many restrictions, irrespective of how well-intentioned they had been. When he left residence for faculty, to say he blew off steam is an understatement. It was like watching a steam pipe burst.

Right this moment, he’s not following one iota of the plan his dad and mom established for him. He’s neither a health care provider nor a lawyer, however he might rattling properly be. As a substitute, he’s residing his life as he needs, and is profitable on his personal phrases. Although it took him some time to calm down, he’s definitely hit his stride and he’s performing some superb issues.

My level is that this: making an attempt to make artistic folks match some mould established as typical knowledge or finest apply could not at all times yield the most effective outcomes. Lay the groundwork, however put the onus on the artistic individual to do what they do finest—downside resolve. Mild the fuse and get away.

Ideas for people who reply to RFPs#section10

Personal the method#section11

I’ve usually referenced the undertaking planner we use at Glad Cog. It’s a complete questionnaire we offer as a obtain on our web site, and we require events full it earlier than we contemplate working collectively. Be happy to borrow something you see in there, as we really feel it’s for the better good.

The undertaking planner can also be a improbable filtering mechanism. If prospects don’t take the time to thoughtfully reply the questions or just go away them clean, that alerts they might not be very invested within the course of. However, in the event that they reply the questions totally, conversationally, or with a humorousness, we all know they’re somebody we wish to proceed a dialogue with.

Our planner usually short-circuits the RFP course of fully. Typically prospects subject RFPs as a result of they’re merely making an attempt to convey objectives and expectations to you. For those who present the automobile for them to try this, they could not even must ship you one. Or, in the event that they do, they ship it as ancillary materials. The planner then turns into the working doc. It’s RFP Kryptonite.

Be sel-ec-tive. Be-e sel-ec-tive!#section12

You need to learn that subhead as a cheerleader, BTW. In any other case, simply learn it as “be selective.”

For those who stick your finger in an outlet sufficient instances, you’ll study to not do it once more. Search for what you contemplate warning indicators in an RFP. For those who really feel it’s just too arduous, nebulous, or extensively distributed, don’t really feel dangerous about passing. There might be different alternatives.

Lots of people say to me, “Simple so that you can say. You don’t have to fret about getting work, you’re with Glad Cog. I’m an impartial net designer, and it’s powerful to seek out work.”

I hear you.

You understand, Glad Cog does have to fret about getting work. Good work. We may even see extra lead quantity than smaller retailers or people, and we definitely see much less lead quantity than massive businesses. However discovering the proper alternative is hard at any scale. You’ll be able to take what’s in entrance of you, however in the event you don’t contemplate happiness as a part of the equation, you’re going to burn out.

If you wish to see extra alternatives come your means, there’s no shortcut. Do good work. It sounds cliché, I do know. However doing good work, being diligent about selling it, and getting away out of your pc to community at conferences and occasions is, in my guide, the holy trinity. The remaining takes care of itself. Oh, and don’t steal different folks’s work. That’s a call you’ll remorse endlessly.

Can we modify the default?#section13

I’ve shared some observations and ideas in regards to the RFP course of because it applies to artistic service suppliers on this article, and I’ve spent hours and hours speaking with my friends about their very own experiences. However I’ve by no means actually thought of a strategy to set up a grassroots motion to alter the core pondering behind how enterprise initiates and establishes relationships with artistic folks.

That is the place I’m on the lookout for your ideas. My colleague Jeffrey Zeldman led a cost to get these items we name net requirements in place, making the lives of net designers and anybody who publishes net content material infinitely simpler. Why can’t we set up a brand new set of requirements dictating how new enterprise relationships sprout? Or is {that a} pipe dream?

Let me know what you suppose. Or share your individual RFP tales, as a result of they’re enjoyable too.

Now please excuse me whereas I print this factor in triplicate and ship it by way of nationally acknowledged service by 9 a.m.

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