Alternatives to RFPs?

Someone on horizon-l wrote: (Since it’s a closed list, I leave out names of other people, but then i’m also avoiding giving credit and ‘google juice’ where it’s due. Any suggestions as to appropriate etiquette? I’m too lazy to contact anyone I’m quoting in a blog entry each time, so don’t suggest that)

But I hope we don’t have to do an actual RFP. I hear that those are quite expensive for the vendor. See the comments from Carl Grant, President & COO, VTLS, Inc., on the Hectic Pace post “No Roaming”, at

It would be very interesting if some vendors and libraries got together to devise a standard alternative to the RFP that would meet everyone’s needs. Cheaper/easier, while still giving libraries the information they need. Does anyone know if there’s been any work in that direction?

Are/were RFP’s (or rather the P’s in response to RFPs) originally intended as a legally binding document and basis to sue, as one of the quotes below [not included here] suggests? I agree that seems unrealistic and unnecessary. Isn’t that the job of the actual contract you sign, anyway? (Whether the contracts we have do that job, or even what it would look like to do that job well–another topic).

4 thoughts on “Alternatives to RFPs?

  1. One possible alternative with RFPs is to open source the process itself. Maybe put the RFP in a wiki, encourage the users of various systems to contribute to the responses, and openly discuss some of the workflows behind the questions that are put forward.

  2. 1. In the UK work has been done on compiling a “generic” RFP (I would hesitate to describe it as a “standard”!) – on the grounds that most of what most of us put in is asking for the same things, so why not use a single form of wording. (I think Juliet Leeves led that work, but haven’t time to check.) Each institution would then adapt (remove, add to, etc) that stanbdard doc to the extent that it sees fit (in my place, for example, we don’t use either DDC or LCC so have additional requirements for classmark sorting in order to generate shelf lists; other places may not even want to bother producing shelf lists).

    2. The contract should expect to reference both the RFP and (more importantly) the vendor’s response. In other words, the contract itself doesn’t include all the fine detail of what the vendor promised to deliver, but refers to the document in which that is all made clear.

  3. I am all for the UK work on a “generic” RFP if the responses are also online and are communally created. Without that, it could just add pages more to existing RFPs, and not invoke discussions on workflow. The financial section may have to be private, but I bet the OSS groups would be willing to describe their creations in such a document.

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