Rebuttals to six arguments against competitive RFP processes

Recently I put myself in the shoes of an opponent of competitive bids to select firms and came up with six arguments, in quotes below. Let me now unlace those shoes (See my post of Sept. 22, 2010: opposition to competitive selections.).

  1. “The process risks disclosure of too much sensitive information about the company’s external counsel spending and legal profile.” Non disclosure agreements protect you. Furthermore, most of the data in an RFP has little competitive value, if any (See my post

  2. “Responses from the firms, while proclaiming uniqueness, all sound about the same. Marketing polish has homogenized proposal material.” Often true, but you can always ask fresh questions or insist on specific metrics. Along with that, prohibit generic marketing material in the proposal.

  3. “No objective, reliable methods exist to rank proposals. It boils down to judgment so why add on the all the spurious numbers and process?” Some level of quantification, ranking, and serial ratings helps lessen favoritism and entrenched prejudices.

  4. “If you enforce a level playing field, you deny firms the ability to take advantage of differentiated access and knowledge they may have.” Why shackle those in the know? Established firms already have every advantage so why not give a break to the challengers?

  5. “Related to the objection before, competitive processes privilege incumbent firms who know so much more.” It can’t be a truly fair competition, so why pretend? The perfect should not be the enemy of the good; do they best you can to treat firms even-handedly.

  6. “If you engage in a competitive selection, you might have to involve the dreaded Procurement.” First, that might be a good learning experience. Second, the general counsel should be able to set boundaries. Third, since the entire companies absorbs the costs of legal services, the company ought to have a voice in how it is spent.

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