Once the outsourcing team has identified the primary and secondary core processes, as well as outsourcing targets, it is time to solicit providers for the processes being outsourced. This is one of the most critical steps in the outsourcing process. To prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP) that will allow you to select the best provider, consider the following steps:
- Clearly set goals to be achieved by outsourcing. Keep in mind that your primary goal is to return leadership and management focus to the levels necessary for peak operations performance. Do not assume that today's level of performance is what should be required of the service provider.
- Develop a detailed and realistic timeline for the outsourcing process. Identify key dates such as RFP release, RFP response, site visits, developing a short list, due diligence, selection, term sheet signing, contract signing, and implementation.
- Involve senior management early and often and at key decision points. Be sure senior management understands the scope, goals, and timeline for the process.
- Be certain that a range of candidates are pre-qualified before sending the RFP. Perform extensive research and ensure all viable candidates are asked to bid by creating a Request for Information (RFI) that clearly defines your needs and evaluates the responses of those needs.
- Clearly define the scope of what is to be outsourced. Once the scope is defined, make sure the boundaries of what is to be outsourced are clearly established.
- Develop benchmarks for the cost and service of self-performing the outsourced activity.
- Ensure the RFP provides a clear set of requirements, path forward, and desire for innovation and creativity. Use the RFP to tell potential providers what needs to be done, not how to do their jobs. Be certain the full range of volume requirements is set forth to include slow, typical, and high levels of activity.
- Share the outsourcing process and timeline with each qualified provider. Be sure all candidates are given the same information and opportunity to present their best bid.
- Consider seeking additional help: Many companies determine that hiring a consultant to conduct the solicitation process is a valuable solution to gain objectivity and expertise.