New Series: How to Tackle a Parking RFP

Welcome aboard! This is the introductory article in our upcoming 3-part series on parking procurement. Part 1 tackles the process from a corporate or procurement department standpoint. Part 2 looks at it from the point of view of the respondent or potential suppliers. Finally, part 3 addresses the end user’s perspective. Stay tuned each week for the next installment, and don’t forget to let us know what side of the fence you fall on and how we do at describing the issues you face. Cheers!


Many in sales might suggest this should be considered a four letter word. I have lived on both sides of this process and it can be a great tool and it can be a disaster, on either side. The first thing I will state is in my experience everyone involved in the development of an RFP has the best of intentions to provide the best value or benefit to the organization.

Fundamentally issues are often created right from the beginning. Depending on your perception you will measure value or benefit in different ways. How is the organization structured? Does it have supply chain management, strategic sourcing and/or procurement departments? How do these departments integrate with the needs of their internal clients, i.e. other departments? How are they measured and compensated?

Do you get what you pay for?

I’m not suggesting you have to pay the most to get the best. If you’re buying a widget or commodity item then price might be the best measurement. However when it comes to services or more intangible purchases it becomes very hard to measure. RFPs that are well designed and thoughtfully put together end up being far more constructive for the organization trying to measure what the market is offering and will likely yield better quality responses for review.

Over the years…

There have been many RFPs that I haven’t responded to purely because the initial document showed the process would be arduous and painful to go through. Ironically it is often the same for the employees trying to manage the process internally, or it is really easy because they have so few responses to review. Does this bringing the best value or benefit to the organization? Alternatively, I think we can all agree that sometimes the RFP process is merely for optics, to check a box and give the business to the desired proponent.

Pet peeve, template documents used for procuring services that have little or no correlation. I think my current favourite is construction templates being used for procuring SaaS solutions, or anything not related to construction. In many cases there are little, if any, changes made to the template which makes answering the document awkward and the overall response is not optimal. This means the organization looking to buy the service will also have less than stellar tools for evaluation. Pet peeve two is non-negotiable terms. If you are trying to build a long-term fruitful relationship with a service provider why would you not allow for negotiations in the process? Too often I see embedded contracts or specific contractual terms in the RFP which limit or eliminate discussion, negotiation and reciprocity. At the end of the day it does not create the best value or benefit for the organization.

What can be done?

Organizations need to have better communication between the procurement group and key internal stakeholder(s) to ensure the correct parameters are being met in the RFP. What is success to the key stake holders? What do they value? How should evaluation be weighted to ensure the right vendor is selected for each RFP? Does it meet best practices? Do you want to run the process to build a fruitful relationship which benefits all parties or start down a path to an antagonistic internal and external relationship?

Stay tuned to the next 3 articles in this series to find out more about these topics and hear our answers.


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