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Actionable RFP process benchmarks for public procurement teams

November 28, 2018 | Bonfire Interactive

RFP benchmark stats for public procurement teams

For busy procurement teams, benchmarking your RFP process is often the lowest item on the to-do list. With many teams facing growing project volumes and limited resources, it’s easy to see why.

When it comes to tracking your team’s performance, you don’t need spreadsheets of data to sort through. Instead, you need actionable insights that help you get your job done better and faster.

To help, we’ve pulled three key RFP benchmarks that you can start tracking against today, to improve your sourcing function tomorrow. To put these in perspectives, we’ve included relevant industry benchmarks from the State of the RFP, the most comprehensive RFP study ever conducted. Compiled from 6,600 RFP projects conducted through the Bonfire Strategic Sourcing Platform, this data gives you a unique window into how RFP spending decisions are conducted at 190 organizations across North America.

Use these as a starting point for smart, practical benchmarking that leads to better purchasing performance.

1) RFP Process Duration

When someone in your organization comes to you with a sourcing request, are you able to accurately forecast how long the procurement process might take?

Many teams have an anecdotal knowledge of how long certain types of projects take, but have not put in place a process to regularly track and review their RFP cycle times.

Why you should track this:

  • Provide end users with an accurate assessment of how long it will take to procure their good/service, for better customer service and organizational planning.
  • Track and identify patterns in project progress, for visibility into common bottlenecks and areas of improvement.
  • More accurately allocate staffing resources to projects.

Industry benchmark:
According to the State of the RFP data, the average RFP process takes 56 days.

Typical RFP Duration graph

2) Vendor reach

Reaching a wide community of vendors is key to the success of a project, not only from a transparency standpoint by also a project competitiveness standpoint.

With most procurement teams using some form of electronic posting and submission, most teams have greater visibility into how many vendors are viewing their opportunities and how many go on to submit.

Why you should track this:

  • More accurately predict and plan for the number of vendor submissions you can expect to receive.
  • Ensure projects are sufficiently competitive and identify which types of projects are not reaching a wide community.
  • Determine need and measure success of vendor outreach (e.g. reverse trade shows).

Industry benchmark:
The State of the RFP study finds that 33% of vendors who register to view project details go on to submit to the RFP opportunity.

The average project receives 4 vendor submissions.

Typical number of submissions per RFP

3) Vendor Disqualification Rates

Disqualifications are a negative outcome for both vendors and procurement professionals, but there are a variety of reasons that they might occur. These include failure to provide a piece of mandatory qualifications, not meeting necessary certifications, conflicts of interest, or other factors. Tracking your disqualification rate helps you to gain visibility into why this might be happening.

Why you should track this:

  • Identify recurring issues or patterns in the types of projects or proposals in which disqualifications are more frequent.
  • Modify your submission process to decrease the incidence of disqualifications (e.g. teams have found that separating the proposal into several pieces of content rather than requiring all information in a single PDF reduces the incidence of incomplete responses).
  • Identify the need for further vendor outreach or training to ensure vendors understand the process and avoid future disqualifications.

Industry benchmark:
According to the State of the RFP study, 11% of vendor proposals are disqualified. This has decreased slightly from 2015, when the disqualification rate was 17%.  

More RFP Insights

While far from an exhaustive list, these RFP benchmarks are an actionable place to start with tracking your own procurement performance.
For more RFP process benchmarks and best practices, view the State of the RFP Benchmarking Webinar On-Demand, with insights from:

  • Omar Salaymeh, Director of Client Success at Bonfire; and
  • Diane Horvath, Manager, Procurement Fairness and Advisory Services, BDO.  


About the author

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Bonfire Interactive

Bonfire helps public procurement teams reach better sourcing outcomes through an experience that’s blazingly fast, powered by peer insights, and so easy to use—vendors love it just as much as buyers do.