Requests for proposals (RFPs): what are the alternatives?

A number of heavyweight speakers from the mobility industry weighed up the advantages of outsourcing relocation services at the Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium.

Requests for proposals
At the Worldwide ERC Global Workforce Symposium in Chicago, Pam Jacknick, vice president of client development at NEI Global Relocation, led a lively panel discussion on requests for proposals (RFPs), debating whether there could be a quicker and easier way of finding outsourced relocation services.

Mobility industry panel of speakers

The frank and knowledgeable panel, who were willing to share their experiences for the good of the mobility industry, consisted of Jack Jampel, HR senior manager global mobility at Stryker Corporation, Shayla King-Garibay, senior HR manager global mobility, Koch Business Solutions, and John Scully, vice president and managing director of RIS Consulting Group.Procurement departments are seeking to save money when they put out an RFP. Jack Jampel shared his approach, which was really about taking the lead. Mr Jampel’s tactic was to become good friends with procurement. He was confident that he had a good mobility programme and offered to audit the process and look at the company’s contracts.Mr Jampel also commits to comparing his contracts to other companies and their contracts, and to cost-finding measures. He explained, “I want great moves for employees and I don’t want procurement to break that.”To Mr Jampel it is important that Stryker’s assignees experience an entire move that is way beyond expectations. What he didn’t want was an outside organisation controlling his job.Mr Jampel’s recommends to start with three companies, take the opportunity to network and allow the prospective tender companies to learn about you and your organisation. Make it a priority to determine whether the supplier’s culture will tie in with your culture.
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Understanding the culture of supplier organisations

Shyla King-Garibay shared her secret of success, which centred on learning as much as possible about the culture of supplier organisations in advance. She found attending mobility events such as the Worldwide ERC Symposium to be really useful in this respect.Her tip was to be proactive and transparent with prospective suppliers from the outset. Be clear about what you intend to keep in-house, if anything, Ms King-Garibay advised. Explain to suppliers that you are not making a buying decision immediately. Acknowledge how much the supplier would add to the cost. The next step is to get the relocation management companies (RMCs) to come in and present.She emphasised the importance of understanding what you want to achieve – first decide on outsourcing or co-sourcing. Determine the revenue decisions and perimeter, then communicate clearly with your supplier, be really transparent and build the trust in relationships. This puts you on a path to a strategic partnership and connections with other peers.Ms King-Garibay explained the context of her organisation, Koch Business Solutions, which dealt with a lot of mergers and acquisitions. They knew how to service and take on board a new company.She was looking for suppliers that were also able to do quick deals and refresh the pricing. What she wanted was agility – the need to act faster than competitors. For her, the typical RFP just didn’t work.

Outsourcing the RFP process

John Scully commented that there were some really bad RFP processes and many horror stories about unnecessary questions and unrealistic timescales, which were burdensome and only added to everyone’s cost. Mr Scully highlighted that rather than a full RFP, there is the option to make enhancements and meet financial objectives with the help of suppliers in the true spirit of collaboration.In addition, corporates can outsource the RFP process if they don’t have the resources via collective buying groups, and there is the option of using a professional buyer to act for your organisation.He also commented that there was a need for a standard vocabulary as many organisations lacked the mutual terms needed to describe services or product accurately. This obviously made it really difficult to measure, compare and cost accurately.
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Finding the cultural fit

It is in everyone’s interest to learn what works well in the selection process and what corporate clients really want from suppliers. For the panel, finding the right cultural fit was the most important part of sourcing a provider.MOVE Guides recently published the white paper: Are we witnessing the slow death of the RFP? It is clear that the RFP process is not going to disappear overnight as they recommend in the conclusion of the paper.The paper states, “Work with your procurement team and question whether there is a way of obtaining wins and getting what you need without going through an RFP process, for example, through a pilot process.“Work with your executives to determine their wider goals and pulse-check their appetite to purchase change. Work with your team to prepare them for potentially different ways of working. Let’s collectively turn this process into a positive, value-added way of ensuring that your company is working with the best and brightest providers who truly align with your needs."
Relocate Magazine Winter 2017 front cover
Read more about working within the mobility industry in the Winter issue of our magazine

For related news and features, visit our International Assignments section. Look out for the launch of 2018's Relocate Awards, entries open in January. Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  ©2017. This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of Relocate magazine, published by Profile Locations, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Profile Locations. Profile Locations accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein. 

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