One question to add to your RFP: are you the future?

Nathan Wenzel | March 5, 2016 | Articles

I’m lucky. I get to live in the future. I see self-driving cars every single day.

We all live in the future in our personal lives. We can click a button to summon a car for a lift to a vacation home then click another button to get food delivered right to our door.

For companies, RFPs are all about the future. If your procurement department is going to the trouble of creating an RFP, you’re probably buying a product (and a relationship) that you expect to use for the next 5-10 years.

And yet, every RFP I’ve ever seen only asks questions about what vendors can do today. It’s time to ask your vendors to live in the future. I’ve helped write more than a few RFPs and I love the opportunity to help companies define their future.

If you’re buying a product and a relationship that you expect to use for the next 5 to 10 years, it’s important to know that a vendor will grow and evolve with your business.

Companies should add this one question to every RFP they issue: Are you the future?

Are You the Future?

If you want more concrete questions (or you just don’t want as many skeptical looks), try these instead:

  • What are your product’s capabilities today that it did not have a year? Five years ago?
  • What are you doing today that you weren’t doing five years ago?
  • What are you no longer doing today that you were doing five years ago?

Too many vendors are doing basically the same things today that they were doing five years ago. They’ll probably be doing the same things five years from now, too. Certainly, there will be new logos, new version numbers, and fresh proclamations about dynamic synergies in the cloud and on mobile. But not much will have actually changed and they certainly won’t bring the future to your company.

In a world where “No one gets fired for buying X” it might feel safer to buy the past. But technology moves far too fast for that to be true for much longer. (Or maybe buying legacy is already no longer the safe choice.)

Companies that learn, innovate, and grow are shaping the future.

When you are evaluating vendors and their RFP responses and ask yourself:

In 5 years, will their competitors be scrambling to catch up to them? In 5 years, are my slower competitors going to scrambling to catch up to me and all the greatness that I’m buying today? Are they the future?

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