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Strategic Sourcing: RFP Mistakes

4 Top Common Sourcing RFP Mistakes

One of the more common tasks of companies undertaking a new sourcing project is issuing RFPs. Sometimes, the RFP drafting process is viewed as a relatively minor part of the entire project rather than being treated with the same degree of care as other aspects like scoring/evaluating. A thoughtful, well-considered RFP is a key stepping stone on the path to adding to or updating your vendor portfolio. Giving it short shrift, on the other hand, could have the opposite effect and negatively impact the company’s growth, profitability, and efficiency.

Here are four common sourcing RFP mistakes:

Mistake #1: Lazy Discovery

The overall success of a sourcing event depends on deftly handling every aspect of it, including the RFP. Too often, the list of possible providers is organized based on simple web searches and anecdotal information. Failure to devote adequate time and effort to the discovery process has the potential to jeopardize the entire project from the start.

Indeed, while maximizing “discoverability” through SEO and PR are two important areas of investment for many vendors, smart buyers are rewarded for doing deeper research rather than relying on what pops up on the first page of a web search. The number of prospective providers that should be invited to submit RFP responses depends on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the category in question, the projected spend on the product/service, and the timeline for a purchase. As such, the line between running a sourcing event that is competitive and one that is unnecessarily onerous is not fixed in place. Buyers should look to generate a large list of prospective vendors and then narrow the field based on criteria that can be evaluated through research. (An RFI is often a useful tactic here as well.) This not only helps the sourcing team find the competitive sweet spot, but also is a good way to understand the marketplace. Ultimately, if you’re a buyer, you want to be selecting from several good options, which means the steps you took to generate your list of prospective suppliers is extremely important.

Mistake #2: Beginning the RFP Too Early

There’s a famous expression that underscores the importance of preparation: “Measure twice and cut once.” In a heavily connected digital world where so many of us have come to expect instant gratification, slowing down can feel unnatural. This can be compounded by colleagues and managers who want particular goods and services selected and delivered yesterday. Take a breath and remember that while an increasing number of organizations are adopting “strategic sourcing” practices, none that we’ve heard of are investing in a “tactical sourcing” strategy.

We’ve made the argument before that, for some, the RFP is really CYA. But think about it —  do you want to issue an RFP to identify the best supplier or to have plausible deniability? (If the latter is your answer, you might want to reconsider your motivations or your employer.) The task of actually writing the RFP should only start once the strategy and requirements have been finalized and the project roadmap developed. Get buy-in from stakeholders as they are ultimately the ones who will benefit (or suffer) from the end result of the sourcing event. In case you need reminding, having strategic sourcing systems that don’t communicate is bad. Once you have established the criteria, requirements, etc. and have gotten the “go-ahead” from your stakeholders, you’re ready to move forward with your RFP.

Mistake #3: Taking a Cookie Cutter Approach

Cookie cutters are great…for making cookies with particular shapes. Unfortunately, they don’t work so well with RFPs. The problem is that when you indiscriminately repurpose content and criteria from other (potentially unrelated) events, you risk getting the right answer to the wrong question. his doesn’t leave you in a strong position to draw conclusions.

It is important for the RFP to have enough specificity to inform the decision-making process.. Repurposing previous RFPs may seem like it’s an expedient way to proceed, which can be appealing if you’re under time pressure. However, thoughtlessly doing so almost invariably increases the odds of a bad outcome, which can be extremely costly in the long run.

Mistake #4: Picking a Winner before You Start

Perhaps this should have been first on our list as it’s the absolute definitive cardinal sin of sourcing. When you have essentially decided on which supplier will be awarded the contract before you’ve even run the sourcing event, it doesn’t matter how much time and care you invest into the RFP, it will have been wasted time. How does this even happen? There are probably a variety of reasons, but we’ve uncovered two scenarios that are particularly common.

  1. Stakeholders have run a shadow sourcing process and only include procurement after the decision has effectively been made. Procurement then faces a tremendous amount of pressure to justify the selection of the vendor or risk the wrath of the stakeholders. This is especially likely to happen with renewals, when there is an incumbent provider.
  2. The team responsible for sourcing a particular product or service feels like the risk of selecting any vendor, but the industry standard, exposes them to risk. While the competitors might offer rock-solid representations and aggressive pricing, the perceived cost of failure might undermine those benefits. This is actually not an unreasonable posture, but should be contemplated inside the RFP by expressing the concerns in the content of the RFP and weighting the responses appropriately.

Vendorful understands the importance of well organized, accurate, and effective RFPs. Our eSourcing platform is user friendly, regularly updated, and built to integrate with other systems.

Contact Vendorful to discover how we can assist you in the sourcing process, your first project is on us.

4 Biggest Challenges in Your RFP Process

Procurement teams face a number of challenges as companies take an increasingly critical look at their processes in the hopes of producing more value. It might not surprise anyone that the value-driving RFP process is still regularly met with resistance from departments outside of procurement. Even procurement teams have been known to push back, describing the process as too time-consuming and antiquated. Sourcing professionals know that RFPs are critical components of well-run procurement practice, but pressure — both external and internal —  can result in teams’ skirting or completely abandoning the process altogether. The risks are significant as the organization is far more likely to be dealing with the consequences of an ensemble of mismatched services and low-value purchases as a result. Here are the 4 of the biggest challenges facing your Request for Proposal process today.

  1. Costly RFPs – Even if one ignores the common gripes about RFPs taking too much expertise and being an arduous process, there’s the very real issue that some companies are running RFPs that cost more than they are worth. If the cost to run an RFP for a $300,000 purchase is $50,000, you’re going to have a very difficult time proving to your company that you can justify the cost of the sourcing event. There are a number of different factors that lead to expensive RFP processes, but the most important thing is to understand how much you are spending on procurement process flow. From there, you can identify what conditions need to change for your RFPs to become the value-driving tool that they are supposed to be. Otherwise, if the process itself is too costly, it undermines the rationale for leveraging the RFP for strategic purchasing decisions.
  2. Lack of Internal Expertise Think of an RFP like a polygraph test; it’s only useful if you ask the right questions. If your team isn’t establishing relevant questions, appropriate evaluation criteria, and a painless way for internal stakeholders to communicate then there’s a good chance that you won’t see value from your RFPs. A lack of internal expertise can lead to suboptimal outcomes. There might not be an easy fix; not even an organization has category managers and there is a natural information asymmetry between buyers and sellers, but this concern can only be addressed if you are aware of it.
  3. Communication between Stakeholders – With mounting pressure to make today’s decisions yesterday, a sourcing process that — by design — prevents impulse buys is bound to frustrate some. Billowing email chains, interminable conference calls, and answering the same questions over-and-over causes massive frustration on both sides of an RFP. Examples of critical communication checkpoints in an RFP include developing clear objectives, evaluating the competing proposals, and having specific evaluation criteria. Fortunately, many of the problems people have with RFPs can be solved with streamlined communication… which also has the added benefit of directly reducing the cost to run RFPs.
  4. Vendors Refusing to Respond – When you’re a Fortune 500 company, you can ask suppliers to respond to an RFP via smoke signals and the odds are decent that you will receive multiple proposals. However, when the perceived stakes for suppliers are lower, some may not even want to respond. Much of the frustration experienced by buyers is mirrored by vendors. The vendor procurement process shouldn’t be managed manually, but the reality is that it’s difficult for sales professionals to commit to spending both their own time and the time of internal subject-matter experts, responding to a lengthy RFP that is being sent out to a number of competing vendors. From the perspective of a sales department, dealing with RFPs is a necessary evil. Most salespeople would prefer to invest their time in developing relationships with prospects — not filling out forms. The relationship between buyer and prospective supplier is important, but should not, on its own, dictate how a contract is awarded. To maximize the odds that vendors respond to your RFP, offer them an experience with streamlined communication, collaboration, and more. If you make the RFP response process better for them, you are more likely to have strong competitive bids for your business.

I’m fond of the expression, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Such is the case with the RFP. The intention is clear — optimize supplier selection. But the road to get there can be riddled with potholes and distracted drivers. Here’s the good news. These challenges can be addressed quite easily. By recognizing and then eliminating the frustrations that others have with the RFP process, you can drive increased engagement by stakeholders and suppliers alike, improving the quality of your outcomes.

Learn more about effective RFPs in our Essential Guide to Understanding the RFP Process.

Essential RFP Checklist

Essential Tips for Every Stage of Your RFP Process

It’s easy to get lost in a sourcing event. In addition to making sure you nail each step of the RFP process flow itself, you’re also trying to wrangle data, vendors, and internal teams across a variety of communication and management platforms — none of which seem to speak to each other. There is an understandable temptation, and sometimes even pressure, to cut corners for expediency’s sake, but you’re fully aware that cutting corners will lead to a less-than-ideal outcome. While for some organizations, the RFP has devolved into a box to be checked, top sourcing professionals understand the value of running a high-integrity, rigorous process. Below, we’ve put together a list of RFP process steps and tips to keep your team on track, and maybe even show you some things you didn’t know were missing. Read more

Complex Purchase Processes

3 Enterprise Purchases That Use a Complex Procurement Process

Not all procurement processes are equal. That’s because buying a pallet of printing paper is a very different purchase from purchasing a new server network for your entire corporation. In general, the more stakeholders, technical challenges, and moving parts a purchase has, the more complicated it will be. There is an interplay with sourcing and change management, which is important to consider early in the process.

Here are some examples of complex process purchases that are either inherently or consequentially complex.

Challenging Purchase #1- Broad Swath of Stakeholders

Converting your company from Windows to OS X

In some respects, this purchase is not challenging. On the surface, it just means purchasing new hardware — and software, in all likelihood — and onboarding people and systems. Sure, there may need to be some workarounds at the IT level, but those departments make magic on a daily basis. The real issue you are going to encounter is the stakeholders’ reaction. Imagine you have a company with employees with ages ranging from 20 to 70. Some of them may have experienced plug-in switchboards as children while others were exposed to cell phones as toddlers. It stands to reason that the speed at which this diverse group of employees becomes comfortable and productive on the new systems is going to be extremely varied. That’s why it’s critical that change management garners as much attention, if not more, when a company is making a purchase that has this broad an impact. These details need to be discussed and agreed upon well in advance — before the RFP is even created.

Challenging Purchase #2 – Components up the Wazoo

Windmill Turbines

Choose any large manufacturing project: an airplane, a ship, complex electronics — it doesn’t matter. What matters is that all of these projects have a daunting number of varied components for a procurement team to source. Let’s consider windmills. Sure, it’s easy to check the basics off our list. There are the raw materials, the product creation process, and making sure the grid is prepped for the windmill turbines. However, the procurement team also has to make sure there is adequate quality control and that shipping is not only priced competitively, but that it is also extremely timely and reliable. The number of physical components of the actual turbine can make any team’s collective head spin (unfortunately, this does not obviate the need for a windmill), but companies around the world pull this feat off because they understand the absolute necessity of applying rigorous processes to keep their supply chain both financially on target and on schedule.

Challenging Purchase #3 – High-Level Stakeholder Buy-In

Outsourced Redesign of the Coca-Cola Logo

To some creatives, using an RFP as a key part of the selection process in sourcing a creative agency is tantamount to heresy. And perhaps, at first blush, you can see their point. However, it’s worth noting that the odds are good you’ll encounter companies that take the opposite position. In fact, the general structure of an RFP can be a huge help for determining which agency would be right for the job. A significant challenge with this kind of purchase is the amount of interaction the procurement team inevitably has to do with key executives who need to be involved in this large of a decision, a challenge that is exacerbated by the highly subjective nature of much of the analysis. While the procurement team is ultimately responsible for orchestrating the selection process, the stakeholders are going to be charged with much of the assessment. This makes sense and is even a best practice, but it regularly causes a massive pileup of communication with email chains that prompt deep sighs of exasperation.

The lack of an efficient communication method, combined with highly-engaged stakeholders, invariably adds friction to the process. Begin adding up all of the time spent juggling emails, conference calls, and meetings and then multiply it by the pay rates of those who are involved in the process and another question emerges: “Given the effective cost of the selection process alone, are we better off engaging a creative agency or buying a resort for company retreats?”

They Are Possible, But They Are Painful

Teams around the world successfully execute these complex processes, but the majority of them feel the pain of legacy processes. RFP management software is designed to streamline the RFP process with features that directly target and mitigate the challenges that occur at each stage of the sourcing process.

For purchases that include broad swaths of stakeholders, a good RFP library management system has an initial planner.  This collaboration tool ensures — in advance of issuing the RFP — that all of the stakeholders are heard and that requirements, and potential hurdles for adoption, are understood and documented. Stakeholders use the planner to create goals for their RFP so that the entire team is in alignment before the RFP is even created. This feature also helps procurement teams consider potential adoption hurdles as they work to source the best solution.

When dealing with commodity goods, the best price often wins. However, in more complex sourcing events, the variables contemplated in an effort to maximize value are more difficult to disentangle. Indeed, for complicated projects with lengthy lists of requirements, RFP software should have scoring analysis. Scoring analysis lets you see a breakdown of scores by section, subsection, and perhaps even by question. Strategic sourcers know the importance of evaluating total value and that simply tying selection to price is a leading cause of bad outcomes. By drilling down into the details of how suppliers were scored for different evaluation criteria, you will be able to better identify any potential hang-ups or key differentiators.

For stakeholder engagement, RFP management software should have features such as consolidation of informationchatpermissions and in-app Q&A. Email chains and attachments don’t scale. Imagine a data grenade exploding and leaving informational shrapnel scattered throughout your inbox. A good solution brings all of this data together and provides a structured way to access and evaluate it. Chat allows real-time discussions between fellow stakeholders as well as sourcing experts without the need to coordinate a meeting that disrupts everybody’s neatly planned day. Granular permissions allow the procurement team to assign specific roles in accordance with the RFP, e.g. if a certain person has the ability to create questions, approve the final RFP, participate in scoring and more. This allows stakeholders and subject matter experts to know exactly what they are expected to contribute to the sourcing event. In-app Q&A allows vendors, to pose questions that the right person on the purchasing side can address or delegate to a colleague. No more calls and emails… well, way fewer calls and emails!

Vendorful’s RFP management tool has developed all of the features listed above to streamline your RFP process. We created Vendorful because we too have suffered through high-touch sourcing events and know exactly how awful the enterprise purchasing process can be. We would be delighted to show you these features in action. Simply schedule a demo with us.

RFPs can be stressful

Top 3 Benefits of Implementing RFP Management Software

The request for proposal (RFP) process enables buyers to compare features, functionality, and price across potential vendors. It is a crucial component of the procurement process. Accordingly, developing an effective RFP process creates alignment and streamlines the procurement process for buyers and vendors alike.

However, despite innovation seemingly permeating all facets of commerce, the corporate purchasing process has remained largely unchanged. It’s not surprising then, that when a process is complex and/or challenging, people are loathe to engage in it. The data suggests that this is the case with RFPs. In fact, a study conducted by Accenture, indicated that under 50% of spend is managed professionally. Many organizations skip the RFP altogether, relying on ineffective sourcing processes that lead to miscommunication, poor/unknown ROI or purchases of products and services that do not align with their business goals.

Unfortunately, even organizations that adopt best practices for procurement often suffer for their diligence. Indeed, the most common way RFP library management systems are handled is via ever-growing email threads with Excel and Word documents attached to them. While that method has few enthusiastic supporters, it beats some of the alternatives, which includes:

  • Shipping responses on a thumb drive.
  • Firing up the fax machine.
  • Printing, binding, and mailing physical copies.

Do you rely on any of these for your sourcing process?? Or worse yet, does the overhead inherent in these methods prevent you from running a process at all?

It is likely time to reevaluate your current workflow and tools in order to save time and money, as well as to avoid operational inefficiencies throughout your organization. RFP management software optimizes outcomes for both buyers and vendors, improving the overall quality of purchasing decisions.

Check out the top three benefits of implementing RFP management software: 

1. Consolidation of Information

If you are dealing with sourcing projects, it is likely very difficult for you to keep everything organized and at your fingertips while using outdated technology. Ensuring that all of your information is centralized and organized is game changing. Papers and email can often get lost or buried in a bulging inbox, making it difficult to determine:

  • Which of the invited vendors has/hasn’t responded?
  • Are the stakeholders able to access all of the information they need?
  • How do vendor responses compare to each other?
  • Where are all of the attachments the vendors sent with their responses?

Managing the cascade of information from your RFP process in a single location is the best way to make sure that everyone involved in the process has access to the data and documents they need.

2. Increased Internal Stakeholder Engagement 

While procurement departments may drive the purchasing process, stakeholders are often the group that determines which vendor ultimately gets selected. However, rounding up people to participate in a sourcing effort has been compared to “herding cats.” It is clear, though, that increasing stakeholder engagement in the RFP process improves the evaluation process and ultimately drives better ROI. A good RFP software solution should make it easy for team members across the organization to participate in the purchasing process, driving increased engagement and therefore better outcomes. RFP management software allows you to:

  • Solicit input regarding requirements, market info, and more.
  • Leverage subject matter experts for key parts of the evaluation.
  • Open up the scoring process to the stakeholders who will ultimately be impacted by the vendor selection.
  • Surface discrepancies and build consensus.

The right tool will not only drive engagement, but will also increase accountability and transparency for purchasing decisions across departments.

3. Time Savings

Time is money, particularly when engaging in a procurement process pulls stakeholders from doing their primary job. By reducing the time stakeholders need to invest in the RFP process, organizations save money. Evaluate how long your current process is taking by thinking about:

  • How much time does it take to organize all of the vendor responses for distribution to stakeholders?
  • What happens if it needs edits?
  • Is the process itself optimized for simplicity and speed?

Absent the right tools, every step of the RFP process can introduce costly delays and confusion.

By leveraging RFP management software, organizations that suffer from low levels of spend under management can position themselves to turn things around. At the same time, organizations that have implemented the right processes can benefit from newfound efficiencies and further improve ROI by implementing RFP management software. It’s never been easier to do things the right way.

Are you ready to reevaluate how you handle procurement within your organization? Sign up for a free account on Vendorful to see how an RFP management solution can improve your sourcing process!

Sixteen Candles

My First Time (Being Invited to an RFP)

Fond Memories

We all remember our first time….

The excitement!

The performance anxiety!

The sense of accomplishment!

Truth be told, the years have taken their toll on the clarity of the memory. There was a time that I thought I had memorized every beautiful line. But now there is a haziness; the memories are a bit fuzzy around the edges. And so it goes with RFPs. As a vendor, there’s nothing quite so exciting as the first time.

Hello? Can You See Us Over Here?

We had spent years building a product and perhaps nine months selling it. It was hard work. We were early to market, but the companies that joined the online video fray after we did were better capitalized, more beloved by the press, and “on the radar” in a way that we didn’t seem to be. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Our team would rub elbows at events, but we seemed to be perpetually relegated to the audience while the management of our competitors dazzled those around us with their thought leadership from the stage at the front of the room. There is something silently disheartening about not even being an afterthought, but not being any thought at all.

She's All That

Back at the office (which happened to be my bedroom for the first couple of years) I sent emails, made phone calls, and contemplated black magic—anything to be noticed. We were the awkward girl in the high school movie and all we needed was someone to tell us to take our glasses off. And then it happened. It was a major newspaper, our very own captain of the football team, and it was asking us to the dance. “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” we wanted to say, but we knew we’d have to play it cool. “Thank you for inviting us to participate in your RFP for an online video platform,” we wrote. “We’ll review the requirements and respond if they align well with our capabilities.” Just like in the movies, we were playing hard to get.

The invitation to participate in an RFP was—to us—an indication that we had arrived, that our then-tiny startup was on the map. An unsolicited invitation to compete for business felt like validation for our business. And so we took to the RFP with gusto, contemplating each word, hammering home what we could deliver right away and faithfully promising to implement any of the desired features that hadn’t yet made their way into our product. We shared the RFP with a board member who advised us not to get too caught up in the process, but who otherwise admired our well-honed answers.

The Belle of the Ball

He wasn’t the only one who thought that we did a good job responding. We were invited to the next round by the buyer. Who would have thought that the quarterback had dance moves like that? While the DJ spun some Fatboy Slim, he whirled us around the dance floor. Everyone was looking at us.

“Who is she?”

“I never noticed her before.”

“She’s so cool!”

It was so amazing; we were floating!

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end with our making a long-distance relationship work at our respective colleges. You see, we didn’t get the deal. But in the end, we got something that we didn’t get out of any subsequent RFP: transparency. We learned that their evaluators had determined our feature set was the most robust and our pricing was the most competitive. However, we were undone by our size. The buyer went with the company that had raised more money and had a higher profile. If that meant dialing back expectations in terms of how tightly they could integrate video into their user experience, so be it.

Aftermath

Over the years, we were involved with so many RFPs, they began to blur together. After you do this enough times, the only thing you really remember is waking up in the morning and hating yourself just a little bit. You promise yourself that you’ll never do it again, but the siren call of the RFP is too hard to resist.

Imagine being able to go through the RFP process without feeling like you need to take a shower. That’s what we’re building at https://vendorful.com. Sign up and feel good about yourself again!

vendor giving you a vendor-written rfp

A vendor wrote your RFP. You won’t believe what happened next.

Corporate purchasing is hard. People who don’t make purchasing decisions probably don’t realize what a challenge it is. How hard can it be to shop for things? We all shop for things, don’t we?

But buying (say) cloud hosting is a lot harder than buying a pair of shoes. For one thing, when you buy shoes you don’t have to worry about how those shoes will affect dozens of other stakeholders; you just have to worry about how they affect you. For another, you know all the right questions to ask about your shoes: are they comfortable, do they look good, and are they the right color?

Odds are unless you are a hardcore IT expert you have no idea what questions to ask a cloud hosting provider. If you’re an executive of a mid-sized e-commerce business, you just want to make a decision and get back to your day job. If you’re a purchasing manager at a large enterprise, you have dozens of other outstanding purchasing requests demanding your attention and don’t have the time to focus on becoming a cloud technology expert in a matter of weeks.

You want to run an RFP to compare multiple options, but you don’t know where to begin. So what do you do? You call up a salesperson and start asking them questions to educate yourself. Before you know it, they’re offering to give you their own vendor-written RFP! Problem solved, right?

Wrong.

scoobie doo smh at vendor-written rfp

It’s tempting. Oh boy, is it tempting! After all, they are domain experts. And if they include anything that biases the results towards their own solution you’ll surely catch it, right?

Actually, you probably won’t. Not because you’re not smart and capable, but because a subtly biased question can sound so reasonable if you aren’t deeply educated in the domain.

Let’s consider a specific example in cloud hosting. Suppose that their vendor-written RFP includes a question about supporting virtualized instances of Linux and Windows servers. Sounds fair, right? I mean, shouldn’t your hosting provider support Linux and Windows servers?

Well, if you really want a virtualized server running one of those operating systems so you can install a bunch of software yourself, then yes they should! But what if what you really want is just for someone to host your website without forcing you to get into those details? The truth is you probably shouldn’t care about the underlying technology. But as it turns out, the company that “helped” with your RFP just so happens to provide virtualized servers running the OS of your choice. By including that question from their RFP template, you’ve guaranteed that you’ll get a “no” from (for example) Google, Microsoft, and many other excellent hosts. And you’ll get a “yes” from the company that gave you the RFP!

Or perhaps they suggest a question on whether classroom training is available. Training is important, isn’t it? Of course! Sounds reasonable! But does training need to be delivered in person, as a lecture, in a group setting? Is that an efficient use of time for your company? There are many ways of efficiently delivering product training these days, and the best hosting solution for your company’s needs might offer training in a better way than this vendor-written RFP leads you towards.

These subtle introductions of bias towards a single vendor add up over the course of a long RFP and are a major contributor to the first touch problem. (For more on that and other problems relating to corporate purchasing, check out Corporate Purchasing Is Broken and the RFP Is a Horrible Thing.) You want to find the best solution, not just the first solution. That’s why it’s much better to lean on community expertise – rather than vendor expertise – when looking for help with an RFP. Rely on the wisdom of other buyers who have been in your position! And use the aggregate expertise of the vendor community, not the single opinion of a biased salesperson.

To get started with an unbiased RFP template, join Vendorful today!

Butterfly on Leaves

Is That Gastroenteritis or Am I Starting a New Business?

I had forgotten the feeling.

It’s a sensation that quite literally feels like it’s emanating from the pit of my stomach. It is, at once, foreign and familiar.

Butterflies.

That’s a nice word for it. Adorable little things, flitting from flower to flower. Nothing about this feels adorable though. I don’t like it at all, but am comforted that it’s there.

It’s been a bit over a decade since I launched my first startup. Then, I had a strong opinion regarding online video. It was going to be big, I thought. Big enough that I should stop whatever it was that I was doing so that I could direct all of my intellectual energy to that one concept. Big enough that I should recruit, evangelize and proselytize. Big enough that every VC rejection had me shaking my head that they were wrong and I was right. And so I poured myself into this startup, which we called Twistage. We showed it to people and I was excited that we were building the future that we had envisioned. And then we launched…officially.

Butterflies.

While they would visit my abdomen from time to time, there were never so many beating wings as when we launched. So here I am again. Older, presumably wiser (though many of those close to me would beg to differ) and definitely more even keeled. And those damned butterfly wings are pounding in my gut. My heart rate is elevated, my body ready for fight or flight as I sit in a chair, the clackety clack of my keyboard competing with the whirring of the building’s HVAC.

“Are we ready?” Hell no. But, the thinking goes, if you wait until you’re ready, then you’re too late. Besides I’ve done this before and I know (intellectually) that you’re never ready because you’re never truly done. There is a feature you could add here, a rough edge to smooth there, and a whole new set of opportunities for you over the hill yonder. Unfortunately, your product won’t work for those people because it’s missing some other features that you dismissed as unimportant six months ago. “Are we ready?” I guess we’re as ready as we’re going to be.

Now, having run afoul of every content marketer, journalist, and editor on the planet, I present you with the lede (yes, that’s the way journalists spell it in this context) that I have so gloriously buried. Today, we are pleased to announce the official launch of Vendorful’s Smart Strategic Sourcing and Vendor Management. Does your organization completely lack or rely on an ad hoc purchasing process? Great, you’re right in our wheelhouse. Does your organization have a formal buying process that sits atop a foundation of RFPs and RFIs? (Don’t you hate RFPs and RFIs?) Awesome – you’re going to love Vendorful. Our solution takes away the pain of vendor discovery and selection.

Those of you who are stuck replying to RFPs and RFIs – don’t worry! We haven’t forgotten you. You can use our tools to manage your answer database, assign answers to colleagues who are subject-matter experts and collaborate across the organization with stakeholders who maximize your chances of nailing your RFP responses. Did I really just use the term “stakeholders” in a sentence? Man, I’m more bought into this enterprise world than I had thought!

There it is. I’ve told you. The proverbial cat is out of the bag. All that remains is for me to click a couple of buttons and it’s official. I’ll stop worrying about the Vendorful launch and refocus all of my anxiety around Vendorful adoption. How many people are clicking through to the site? Are you reading this? If so, that means you didn’t click the link above! Should I give you another link? Nah, that would be too pushy. How about in a subtle parenthetical? (Something like this: https://vendorful.com.) Ah geez, here comes the next round of butterflies….