Offline, spread sheet based RFIs have been used for decades to enable procurement professionals to gather and qualify supplier information. Over time organisations’ needs have evolved and the recent economic climate has brought much of the business world’s focus to the procurement arena as it increasingly drives organisational development and business strategy. As a result there is a growing need for transparency within the buying process, central storage of supplier information and consistent and comparable data. These evolving business requirements have highlighted a number of key shortcomings with traditional, offline based RFIs;
- Lack of central visibility of the data collection process
There is little visibility into the progress of suppliers’ RFI completion, which can often lead to bottlenecks and delays in the sourcing process.
- No central storage of information for future sourcing events
Supplier data isn’t centrally stored meaning information lacks visibility between teams and departments. No central repository of information makes it hard to share information between stakeholders and information isn’t always utilised in future sourcing projects.
- Duplication of tasks and information
People across teams and departments are often running parallel tasks or collecting duplicate information which can reduce efficiency and cost saving opportunities.
- Limited number of questions
Offline RFIs can make it cumbersome to deal with high volumes of data, meaning buyers have to limit the number of suppliers or questions they include in the process.
- Inconsistent supplier information
Despite clear instructions, suppliers often submit their information in different formats which can make it hard to make supplier comparisons and lead to inconsistent and inaccurate supplier decisions.
- Inaccurate analysis of information
Due to inconsistencies in the information gathered, human error and miss-communication between supplier and buyer, there are often inaccuracies in the analysis of data.
- Failure to promote best practice processes.
Offline RFIs can prove cumbersome to use, and do not provide management with visibility of progression, resulting in some employees lacking inspiration or engagement to follow spread sheet based processes.
As a result of these issues many companies are increasingly looking to streamline their requests for information and improve efficiencies through more visible, accessible and accurate sourcing and procurement processes, which is resulting in more companies adopting eRFIs. In our next article in the series we will look at the economic factors that are driving the growth in eRFIs, and the benefits of eRFIs compared to traditional offline requests for information.
Find out more and eRFIs, download our eSourcing whitepaper: RFIs vs eRFIs here