Friday, September 5, 2008

Seems like old times

Yesterday, I got a call from one of my clients (in the workers' compensation industry). Seems one of his staff members just got back from maternity leave and decided she'd rather be a mom than an employee (from what I understand, people sometimes get attached to their offspring--it's a weird phenomenon).

One of the roles she fulfilled was that of RFP (Request for Proposal) point person, meaning when they get an RFP, she gets information from the subject matter experts and compiles it into a response. This is one of the things I did at my cubefarm job, and I did it quite well. My client knows I have this experience, so he asked me if I would be willing to do their RFPs on a consulting basis.

They only get 20-30 a year (I used to complete upwards of 200 a year), so it shouldn't be too taxing. Plus part of the deal we worked out is that they will purchase RFP software, and will pay me to build their response database and train another employee to use it as backup.

To most, this will not sound like an exciting project . . . but RFPs appeal to me for a couple of reasons:
  • My anal side likes the strong organizational component--RFPs often have very specific instructions, or long lists of requested exhibits to organize, tab out, etc.
  • My creative side likes the "spin" component--making a dull topic into something that seems exciting and worth buying.
  • As an added bonus, RFP compilation generally requires the use of a variety of office supplies (binders, divider tabs, staples, paperclips, hole punch . . .).
Now, RFP work does have its downside:
  • RFPs often arrive with little notice and unrealistic deadlines.
  • The conversion rate isn't that good (many companies, as part of due diligence, are required to complete the RFP process even when they know what vendor they want), so it's a lot of work with little return.
  • Depending on the team you work with, getting information from subject matter experts is like herding cats.
I think the client has to run it by his boss for final approval, but as far as I'm concerned I'm back in the RFP business. Now where did I leave my cat-herding equipment?


Devon Ellington said...

It sounds like it's a light enough work load that,once you get the databases and systems set up, it shouldn't be too difficult to maintain and turn around 20-30 requests a year.

It sounds like a sane acceptance on your part.

writtenexpressions said...

My thoughts exactly. Now, if I get all 20-30 at the same time, that will be a different story!