Hey there.

Have we talked before? No, I didn’t think so. So please don’t send Zehno your RFP. Really. We don’t want it.

Blind requests for proposals (usually from state institutions) have been raining down on us over the last two weeks. Most are a BFWT (Big F’ing Waste of Time, if you’ll excuse my French — I am Cajun, you know).

  • The latest one that came in at 47 pages long plus an addendum. Of those 47 pages, six paragraphs relate to the actual needs/scope of work. The remaining 46 pages address such fascinating topics (and requirements) as “Federal Lobbying Prohibition” and “Affirmation Regarding Bribery Convictions” — all citing criminal procedures and articles of the law.
  • If we have questions, we can send them to the helpful “procurement” representative. In writing, please.
  • At some point, I think we’ll get an RFP that asks for the blood type of all of my employees and stipulates that I leave the institution in my will. Hey — that’s what it takes to be considered a “contractor.”

Please, people! Make it stop.

What’s our preferred process if not the RFP? At Zehno, we like to do a thing called talking, which might lead to a recommended plan based on our insights about a potential client’s needs and staffing.

  • Our talk needs to be with the most important decision makers and stakeholders about the work. We talk about what your problems, your goals, what you need help with and what your budget is for getting there. We listen to your responses. Is this an opportunity where we can make a difference and add value?
  • If during our talking you also find that you like our process, our work, our results achieved for other clients, we’ll talk some more about whether a proposal makes sense.
  • But only if there’s a good fit.

It’s really not that complicated. Take the first step and if you like where we’re going together, let’s keep going.

There are lots of great opportunities out there to help educational organizations strengthen their positions through brand and marketing — but not enough time to read and respond to all of these RFPs.

So please, let’s just talk instead.

Thanks for letting me get that off of my chest.

If you’re ready for more musings on RFPs, check out our white papers:


  1. I can see why you are so against the RFP bet I have to say that are not alwyas bad. I have worked in the elearning industry for four years and we have responded to a lot of RFPs both from people who know what they want and those who don’t. The people who generally know what they want like RFP because they want information in a format that allows them to compare what different vendors have to offer.In some cases people don’t know what they want and the RFP is usually a CYA activity. I have seen RFPs where the client wanted us to quote for images according to theor size in kbs and code per line. We have told such clients that it is not possible to send the quote the way they want as it could be as impractical as buying clothes by kilograms. We have ignired the format and quoted in our format and have won the business too.
  2. Ekey, thanks for the insight. So what percentage of the time do you end up selecting a company that was RFPd vs. the vendor you talked to first before generating the req’d RFP? It seems you ARE talking to agencies like Kathy is advocating, and confirming that the recipients of the RFPs afterward are merely procedural and probably shouldn’t invest time in completing them because you’ve already selected a vendor pre-RFP? How does a firm get that pre-RFP discussion with you?
  3. If I find it takes longer to read the RFP than it does to complete the job, then I’ll tell you right up front that I’m not the right candidate. Some of my prospective clients try to turn my one page letter of agreement into a 40 page contract. That also tells me we’re not a good fit.
  4. Yep. We appreciate how and why the RFP thing happens the way it does — corruption, kickbacks, etc. are not good things! Being based in Louisiana, we especially know this. It’s just difficult to sort the real, mutually beneficial opportunities from the cattle calls. - Karen
  5. Hate to sound like The Man on this one, but from the institution’s side of the story we are required by law to do it that way. A lot of that extra paperwork is something either the fed or state government has forced public institutions to include as well. It’s not that we enjoy sending blind RFPs to random companies, but usually the conversation and goals meeting happens well before any RFP is written. However, before I can contract with the companies we met with, the law requires me to inform two or three other companies of what I am doing. So, the blind RFP goes out. Probably not helpful, but then again the public bidding process rarely is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>