When humans make decisions they are nearly always impacted by invisible biases. And we are not the ones to blame! If anything, we will have to blame evolution for that. It is only natural for human beings to rely on feelings, experiences and personal views when making decisions. After all, in the past, this bias has often decided between life and death…
Luckily, nowadays the business decisions we daily have to make are usually less dramatic. Yet they are equally shaped by experience, so we often tend to stick with the tried and tested. This path often appears as “the safe choice”, but it leaves no room for improvement and might even sometimes prevent you from making the best or most cost-effective choice for your business.
Request for Proposals (RFPs) are a powerful tool to pre-empt this potential bias and choose a data-based approach to the selection of the most suitable provider for your matter. A standardised template for example ensures that your legal teams repeatedly ask themselves and their vendors critical questions that support finding the right vendor.
At BusyLamp, we have learned first-hand how crucial selecting the right vendor is to the success of the project going forward. We would therefore like to provide you with helpful tips on which features your RFP should include in order to best support you and your team in the decision-making process and thus pave the way for a successful project outcome.
Be precise and ask the right questions
First and foremost: Be specific in your questions and provide law firms with information that gives a clear picture of the task. Precise questions are the be-all and end-all, because the more general your questions are, the more general the law firms’ answers will be. Of course you don’t want to read pages and pages of marketing materials from law firms, which of course exist to represent themselves in the most positive way, but are ultimately not a good decision-making aid. To get away from the so-called “gut feeling” and marketing materials, it is important to determine a set of questions that really tells you which law firm is best for the upcoming project and your company. From the law firms’ point of view, it is helpful to have as much information as possible about the matter and, if relevant, about your industry, in order to formulate precise answers and for them to respond with an offer. The more specific your questions are, the more likely you are to receive well-prepared answers that will help you to find legal advice that suits you and your business. Allow enough time for the drafting, as you will usually gain it back afterwards because the RFP process will benefit from it.
How can eBilling.Space help you streamline this part of the process?
Frequently a simple document or spreadsheet are being used for the purpose of gathering and sending a set of questions to the law firms – it takes no “techie” to know, that there are more modern and efficient solutions nowadays. eBilling.Space for example provides a survey module, which allows you to bypass the otherwise time-consuming compilation of answers that is relevant for your evaluation. This gives you summarised tabular data supported by graphs, allowing you to compare responses instantly. The RFP module asks law firms specifically for the information relevant to you and further provides specialised templates e.g. for finance and M&A transactions. All the information in the law firms’ responses is therefore in a standardised format of your choosing and it adapts flexibly to subsequent changes.
Essential functions, that speed-up your sourcing-process
Depending on the complexity of the matter, it is good practice to allow the law firms to take up to three or four weeks to answer all of your questions. We understand that there are often more urgent cases in the work schedule, where an almost immediate response needs to be given by the law firms – e.g. in corporate cases or an M&A acquisition. eBilling.Space provides a functionality especially valuable for these specific cases, which allows users to limit the time to file a response. Additionally, software solutions generally save a great amount of your time in the RFP process because answers on staffing, costs, hours, etc. will be received uniformly formatted, which allows a simple and intuitive comparison of the answers received. This leaves valuable time for other tasks, especially if your project is already very time-critical.
2:Nil for the RFP tool vs. biased decisions!
Don’t forget to negotiate
Ask the law firms about alternative cost structures and possibilities for discounting. Negotiation is possible after all, and in a software-based environment it can be done without difficulty. Finally, you do not want to simply receive an overview of standard rates. If law firms add to or adjust their responses after the initial offer, you will need to reassemble data at this point and track the changes. As an in-house legal team, you should be able to back up your negotiation results with numbers at any time. If a law firm revises its offer during the RFP process, you will want to note this later in your reports. A good negotiation result can make you feel good, but again, you should have clear numbers up your sleeve to back this up. eBilling.Space does the work for you and records if the offer has changed during the RFP process. For example it points out, whether an hourly rate has changed within an RFP (i.e. if the rate was lowered compared to the previous response).
Kick-off for a successful collaboration
In eBilling.Space, the RFP module is only the first step in the creation and management of the matter. After interviewing, evaluating and selecting the law firm, the data from the RFP module is applied to a new matter with the corresponding budget settings by simply clicking one button. In the same step, the law firm receives an invitation to start collaborating on the matter in eBilling.Space. If desired, it is even possible to have the matter checked and the budget approved by the responsible departments with our approval module. Software-powered RFP processes are a time and resource-saving alternative to the old-fashioned and clunky manual processes.
Concluding, a powerful RFP-tool is essential for the right selection of your vendor. It bypasses the urge to act based on biases and allows a data-driven approach instead. By doing that, it decisively shapes the outcome of the overall project-success.
eBilling.Space is acknowledged by our clients for its value adding RFP tool, which has been continuously enhanced over the past few months. With the right decision being made, the entire matter management cycle can be followed up in our legal spend management solution. An asset, which is highly important in times of remote working.