PLCLaw Dept. Quart., Vol. 3, Jan.-March 2007 at 17, lists eight suggestions for how to conduct a competitive bid (See my post of Nov. 11, 2007: ten more suggestions.).
1. “Minimize box ticking,” by which they mean forcing the selection into a process-driven exercise. Allow firms the opportunity to distinguish themselves by the material they submit.
2. “Tailor your company’s standard procurement questionnaire.” If you don’t revise the template so that it addresses law firm practices, you will spend much time answering questions from law firms.
3. “Be very clear on your selection criteria.” In a twist, the sidebar encourages law department managers to talk to internal clients about what those clients seek from law firms.
4. “Encourage free and open discussion.” Rather than cordon communication off, such as only on teleconferences open to all bidders or only through email, the sidebar encourages giving firms the opportunity to meet and discuss your requirements.
5. “Provide feedback.” Give structured feedback to each firm, including the unsuccessful ones, following its pitch. Clear explanations about strengths and weaknesses will improve the process for everyone down the road.
6. Bar marketing material that is not relevant. General marketing material from firms is as useless as standard procurement questions from your company’s form (See my post of April 5, 2006 that lists this curtailment of firm marketing blurb among the ten commandments.).
7. Invite a reasonable number of firms to tender. For example, refine the list of firms to whom the RFP is sent so that you have a balance of new firms and incumbent firms (See my post of Sept. 4, 2005: online Dutch auction by GE with 142 law firms invited.)
8. “Set realistic pitch process timelines.” Otherwise, you will need to reschedule and communicate the changes to everyone, which will inevitably cause confusion and irritation.