Completing RFPs is a significant investment on the part of both your organization and the providers, and the results greatly affect your program’s success. If you are serious about attracting the best providers to participate in your RFP process, be sure what you put forth is the best document possible.

An effective request for proposal is the result of thoughtful consideration by the buyer who is seeking help with a problem or challenge. The quality, completeness and specificity of your RFP will determine the success of the overall RFP process — a process that will potentially impact the success of your entire contingent workforce program for years to come. Considering the desired length of the eventual relationship, you are not only evaluating the provider’s current operations but exercising judgment about its apparent roadmap and capacity to meet your strategic needs in the future.

As part of SIA’s recent 2024 Workforce Solutions Buyers Survey, we asked, “Is your organization looking to go out to RFP for the following services in the next 12 months?”

The survey was conducted in early 2024 and reflects the opinions of respondents from 165 companies with contingent workforce and/or workforce solutions programs globally. To qualify for the survey, a company must have 1,000 or more full-time equivalent employees (not including contingent workers).

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Approximately 57% of respondents planned to go out to RFP for at least one technology or service in the next 12 months, with nearly a third of organizations planning multiple RFPs. This is a high number, with many organizations reevaluating both technology and service providers as their contingent workforce programs mature and evolve. While more organizations are looking to go to market, conducting an RFP process can be time consuming and involve not only HR and/or procurement departments but also legal, finance, IT and other potential stakeholders. There are several necessary elements to an RFP which help both the buyers and the providers have a better understanding of requirements.

A well-written RFP contains specific information pertaining to your contingent workforce program and clearly states future goals and requirements. It should encourage bidders to respond to each question in a way that accurately states and quantifies the added value they will deliver — together with any dependencies — making it easier to evaluate on an “apples-to-apples” basis. Buyers should dissuade respondents from simply reaching into their answer library for pre-existing answers that are irrelevant or difficult to evaluate. You want to let providers propose creative, relevant and cost-effective solutions by focusing on the end, not only on the means.

It’s also important for providers to know what organizations want their contingent workforce program to look like in three to four years. If you don’t have an MSP, do you intend to have one? How about geographic expansion or division expansion? There are many changes that can occur over time, and it is important for your suppliers to understand roadmaps and plans to ensure mutual success for the long term.

Similarly, specify clearly how the winning bidders will be selected, how many people are involved in the decision-making process, the timeline for the decision and the basis used for comparing suppliers.

Investing the time and effort upfront when creating a quality RFP will help to mitigate risk and deliver benefits such as:

  • Enabling respondents to clearly understand the requirements and needs.
  • Allowing respondents to price their proposal more accurately.
  • Minimizing ambiguity that can delay the initiative or cause you to select the wrong bidder(s).

To make RFPs a painless and efficient way for you to achieve your goals, SIA has published several RFP templates that can serve as a great starting point for your next round of sourcing. The templates provide a customizable foundation for crafting a unique RFP tailored to your company’s needs. SIA has specific RFP templates available online to CWS Council members for MSP, VMS, EOR and IC Evaluation, Direct Sourcing and Staffing Supplier.