Real Fast and Perfect: RFPs in the Digital Age
Getting bids for servicing your
associationís various media products goes more smoothly if you establish
By Nancy Gordon
Even in this age of multi-platform communications, bidding
out for media printing/production services doesnít have to be scary. Two
experts in the process presented their methods at Association Media &
Publishingís Annual Meeting 2014 in May with their session, "Real Fast and
Perfect: RFPs in the Digital Age.Ē
Joanne Harap, president of consulting firm Production
Matters, and Nicole Harris, vice president of the National Glass Association, quickly
established that with a clear vision of your publishing needs, the whole
process flows smoothly. The fact that you might want to go multi-platform for
the first time doesnít change the process. You are basically just adding
factors to be considered.
As with any project, youíll start by identifying your
- What do you want to achieve with an RFP?
- Are you looking for better service, lower costs, better
print quality, different mail services, new platforms, and/or some other goal?
- Who are the stakeholders who should be involved in the
The presenters emphasized that to do the process right, youíll
want to leave enough time to gather all the information you need to make a
sound decision. For instance, if your goal is to have a new printer before the
end of the fiscal year, donít start the process one month before your deadline.
Build a timeline that includes initial planning and data gathering, selecting appropriate
vendors, creating the RFP documents, reviewing bids, selecting finalists,
viewing vendor presentations, conducting plant tours, and final negotiations.
- Some important take-aways from the session:
- Make sure your bids allow you to compare apples to apples
ó donít hesitate to ask the vendor to re-format the bid to your needs.
- If you really like a particular printer but they donít
offer a particular service, ask if they can arrange partnering with other
vendors to enable them to deliver what you need.
- When evaluating bids, donít just look at overall costs ó
see where the cost differences are and why.
- Pay attention to non-quantifiable aspects. For instance:
- How much homework does each candidate do before their
- How well does the culture of the vendor match your
- How do workers at the plant interact with each other and
- For the serious finalists, communicate variances and ask
for pricing concessions that might be available through such factors as:
- Terms of the contract
- Signing bonus
- Payment terms
- Scheduling changes.
Finally, the presenters stressed that the process isnít
over once a new vendor is selected. Be prepared to thoroughly review the first
finished product and first invoice, and then discuss variances with the vendor.
Schedule a quarterly review and evaluate whether you are still on point with
your publishing vision.
Nancy L. Gordon is
managing editor for Health Care Compliance Association, Society of Corporate
Compliance and Ethics.