Three frequently heard complaints expressed by buy-side organizations during the course of an IT sourcing event follow. While they don\u2019t necessarily drive sourcing decisions, they most certainly impact them.\n1. Contradictory responses within an RFP response\nIt is surprising just how often we see and hear of this happening. Before submitting an RFP response, it is critical you make sure it is complete, thorough, and void of any contradiction. Contradictions come in many forms and are frustrating to the evaluator, often leaving a lasting bad impression.\nA perfect example of this is when a solution is stated to be included in a proposed bundled price in one part of the response but later it appears as a line item within an attached bill of materials. Is it part of the bundle or do you have to pay for it separately?\nEvaluators are left wondering,\u00a0\u201cIf this is how my questions are treated during the \u201ccourting\u201d phase of the relationship, then how are things going to be once we are two or three years into a relationship?\u201d\u00a0\nThey are also left without a definitive response to include in their overall evaluation and assessment, which is never a good thing especially if the competition has provided a competitive, clear and concise response.\n2. Incomplete response to a very specific request\/question\nMost buy-side organizations spend a significant amount of time and effort pulling together the RFP prior to submission to the various IT vendors. With this comes an expectation that the IT vendor\u2019s submitted response reflects the same level of effort and thoroughness.\u00a0\u00a0 When this simple expectation is not met, the evaluator naturally becomes frustrated and their attention shifts to the IT vendors that actually met the expectation and presented a complete and thorough response to the specific questions.\nWhen an evaluator\u2019s attention shifts away from the incomplete response, it effectively removes it from consideration. Having any part of the RFP response removed from consideration that easily and quickly, especially when there is a competitive environment, is extremely detrimental. In most cases, every response counts towards the ultimate decision.\nIf you are not able to provide a complete response, it is essential that you provide your rationale. At a minimum, if you can\u2019t provide a complete response, you must address the following as part of your response:\n\nThe reason a complete response was not able to be provided\nWhat additional information is required to provide a complete response?\nWhen you will be able to provide a complete and compelling response?\n\n3. Referencing additional documentation without more specific guidance\nOne of the most common frustrations raised by buy-side organizations is tied to situations where IT vendors reference additional documentation without providing guidance as to where in the documentation the question is addressed. For example, when you reference a master services agreement because there is contractual language within it that addresses the question, you must also clearly identify the actual section within the master services agreement where the language is found that addresses the question.\nAlso, for reasons stated above, it is important to only reference documentation that actually addresses the question in its entirety. \u00a0A perfect example of this is when an RFP requests insight into the service level credit structure the IT vendor is willing to provide, and a reference is made to a\u00a0service level agreement\u00a0that has no service level credit structure within. Seeing the reference to the actual service level agreement creates an expectation that the IT vendor, in fact, is willing to offer a service level credit structure.\nOnce it is determined that the service level agreement doesn\u2019t provide a service level credit, the evaluator\u2019s reasonable expectation is unfilled, and the evaluator naturally develops a negative impression of the IT vendor when assessing the overall quality of their response.\nWhy didn\u2019t we get asked to the party?\nIf you are struggling to figure out why your organization\u2019s RFP response did not lead to an invitation to participate in the next round, you may want to go back and reassess your approach to replying to the RFP.\n\nDid you do any of the items raised above?\u00a0\u00a0\nIf you did, what could you do differently next time?\n\nI am not suggesting that an IT vendor\u2019s future fortune will change if each of these items is addressed. Ultimately, a compelling solution with a strong value proposition must still be offered.\u00a0 These are also not the most essential or heavily weighted details in a\u00a0sourcing decision. But they are items that are absolutely considered by evaluators tasked with making decisions and thus should be addressed and accounted for appropriately.