Sometimes, law departments who are acting in good faith ask vendors to respond to a request for proposal. For example, a law department might think that it could be advantageous to offshore some service. When the proposals come back and the law department thinks further about logistics and economics, its managers might conclude that it will not proceed with any of the vendors.
Naturally, the vendors feel used. They have toiled on their proposal and they have built some level of expectation of a sale. Bitterly, they feel that the law department cavalierly tossed out a request, mindless of the work it requires.
That sort of insensitivity is rare, because law departments do not want to take the time to prepare their facts and RFP unless they think there is a good chance of a successful solution. But sometimes the responses tell them that the time is not right, the cost too much, or something else is missing. At times, there was no approval of a sufficient budget.
The balance is hard to reach between law departments “testing the waters” and vendors feeling abused. Vendors can’t do much to protect themselves against the risk of wasted time and energy. My best solution is to be as transparent as possible with vendors. Explain at each steps the facts and the eventual decision. Who knows, a disappointed vendor might come back with a better approach!