In the not too distant past (maybe even now in many cases), RFPs were sent out by postal mail and proposals were received and reviewed and then awarded. Once email became widespread the process is now repeated except now documents are attached and communication between service providers and property managers can go can go back and forth; ask questions to clarify the scope of work and ultimately to negotiate the final scope of work and bid amounts.
Managing the RFP process through email is a great improvement over the postal alternative but there are still challenges that still must be dealt with. One issue still remaining is that service providers, if answering questions in a spreadsheet, can still provide answers in any format they like. For example a question might be “How many people are in your crew?” which might might have an answer like “5” or maybe they type in “five” or many they don't answer the question at all. Inconsistent answer formats can makes it harder for the property manager to meaningfully compare proposals.
Another potential issue with email is how to manage the information that is passed back and forth. Yes email allows other people to be copied but maybe someone forgets to copy someone or now someone has to take over an RFP process in the middle but has not been kept in the loop. Also how are the attachments managed? As the property manager gets in proposals and alternate proposals they will hopefully have an organized place and structure to keep attachments where others can reference it. Having a common place to reference attachments is good but it can cause problems if someone moves something around or updates a document they shouldn't. In the age of the Internet it seems that there should be better ways of managing the RFP process.
Using a web based tool or application for creating, sending and awarding RFPs seems like a natural fit. Using an application allows the RFP data to be captured and communicated in a structured way. Also the communication between property manager and service provider can be formalized in a way which allows different people in the property manager's organization to have visibility into the RFP process that is occurring. There are many other benefits which I plan on writing about some of which may not seem obvious as managing the RFP process through the Internet can allow new ways of working.