Let’s first define partnership as only Wikipedia can:
‘A partnership is an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.’
We will come back to this shortly.
Coincidentally, I am also participating in a third round of another RFP for which my colleague and I are flying out to present in an attempt to win the business. It will be the first time either of us has met the parties involved. In these situations, the exciting part for me is the opportunity to collaborate and build an eminent environment to make both of our respective organizations stronger in today’s global economy. It is my opinion that the face-to-face meeting should set the stage for the steps that lead to true partnership.
In my attempt to be unbiased and present this issue from the prospective of a buyer, here is a simple list of pros for going the RFP route:
Every company’s requirements are different, so an RFP allows an organization to see everything side by side as it relates to their specific needs;
Full control to manage it as seen fit by the organization (giving the company the ability to prioritize clearly behind the scenes without pulging anything to the vendors);
For cost purposes, you force the vendors to ‘sharpen their pencils’ and potentially bid against themselves and each other (clever);
Exposes vendor weaknesses;
Potentially takes those pesky salespeople out of the equation (a decision without persuasive acts).
I struggle with the contradiction here because our hope is always to become a trusted partner. So already, we have shown everything, yet we know nothing.
In the name of fairness, here is a list of cons (as viewed by a guy who feels he has seen almost every scenario across a variety of industries):
Important intangibles are missing (e.g. relationship, availability, care, likability, dedication, response time);
Translation quality (surprisingly, many companies don’t even have a pass or fail for a few of their key languages);
Trust (if we are potentially going to be partners, some additional background maybe needed to focus on an actual solution);
Not disclosing the complete picture can work against you (pulging pain points allows solution providers to customize an appropriate response);
Extremely time-consuming and not always necessary.
As your possible partner seeking the mutually beneficial advancement of our respective interests, all I ask is for you to take the following into consideration:
Superior suppliers want to be known as an authority on their business. Therefore, take advantage of a resource willing and able to lend a helping hand. We urge our clients/prospects to ask questions in order to help you and your team make well-informed decisions even if it does not mean immediate financial gain. Remember, all we do is live and breathe language, translation, localization, globalization, with the same desire as you to develop your international prowess. A company’s willingness to help in these instances is important for any tentative future relationship.
Ask yourselves internal questions, e.g., what do we need to achieve our goals and will my choice make me shine in my position?
How high a priority will I be for my selected partner? Would it be better to be treated as a number #1 by a smaller- to medium-sized organization or as #3,447 for a giant? My sole job is to make you feel like your list of projects is my priority.
Perhaps ‘larger’ or ‘cheaper’ should not make the decision for you. If you do not get the right quality and scalability, ‘cheap’ can end up being expensive.
Are the companies being considered capable on all fronts? What happens when the deal closes?
I am not arguing against proposals, but there are important pieces to the puzzle that have become lost in the paperwork and the excuse not to have human interaction. As business people, I believe it is our duty to take everything into consideration, even if that means a slight throwback to eye-to-eye contact.
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