If an agency submits an RFI response and they don’t listen to your instructions, throw them out of the search.

Ok…somewhat of a bold, unreasonable statement, but there is some truth to this rather extreme remark.

Managed a search last year where one of the agencies completely changed the order and character of how the RFI was laid out.  They moved questions around, they changed the nature of some of the questions, and altered the look and feel of the RFI so how it looked added to the confusion.

I believe it is a-ok for an agency to ask if there is some latitude in how they respond to an RFI (or how they present, or submit a proposal).

And I think it’s fine for an agency to push it a bit and take some chances.

But in my opinion, you ask questions in a certain order and for a certain reason and you expect to get them in that order.  Adding value beyond the questions is fine, but when a client has 5-10 RFI’s to review, the need to maintain some measure of consistency is key.  Absent of it, and your job of sorting out the worst from the best will be magnified ten-fold.

You want an apples-to-apples comparison in cases like this, and if an agency steps out of bounds, it’s hard to make a fair comparison.

In addition, if an agency breaks the rules this early in the game without regard for your sanity…what does that mean for the future of your relationship?

My advice to you…be aware…and beware!