Weblog by Stanley Portier focused on topics, trends and events in the field of educational technology.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
RFI, RFC, RFP, RFX, RF...
The last 48 hours I have been working on a so-called RFC proposal for an extensive e-Learning solution. Together with a colleague, almost completely separated from the real world, we have struggled trough over 300 questions, not only yes/no but also quite some open text questions. I get the idea that the number of requests has increased, maybe because nowadays it is quite easy to create a web environment that supports the complete workflow to submit a proposal. The problem I have with this approach is that the request process has become completely anonymous: no possibility to have an intake interview or a kick-off session where you can ask questions and find out what the really important issues are. That may help to address some issues more or stress some of the strong points of the solution you may provide. The anonymous 300-list gives no clue about the weight of each question or even category of questions. It feels like a shot in the dark, because you don't know where your target is. It also feels that there is no solution that can cover all the requirements asked. Moreover, you really don't know what instructional design principles the customer wants to apply, so you might be able to argue which requirements are more important than others. Most questions are strictly limited to availability of functionality: can your solution provide it or not, yes or no. An alternative reaction could be: why bother, why submit at all, do I stand a chance at all? On the other hand, if you don't reply you're out of the process for sure. Of course it's not feasible to submit to any RFx that passes by. Based on experience a quickscan can help to get a rough estimate whether or not it's worthwile to go through all the trouble of filling in the question details. In most cases RFI's and RFP's have a very strict time schedule, so as a potential vendor you have an idea when the process will be finished. The case which urged me to write this blogpost did not have a time schedule at all, only a deadline for submission, but no time schedule whatsoever for any (if any) follow up steps taken by them. Anyway, we were quite pleased with the result: proposal finished and submitted before the deadline. Now the waiting starts.
My current job position is senior consultant e-learning at Stoas Learning in Wageningen (NL). My background is in educational psychology, with an emphasis on using ICT in education. In the past 20 years I had job positions at the University of Nijmegen (PhD research), The Dutch Open University, SPC Group, TIP Connect, ROC Midden Nederland and the University of Twente. Since 2002 I also own my private consultancy company called YASM.