What would you do with 12 hours saved per RFP project?

If you could save 12 hours on every bid and RFP, what would you do with that time?

It’s an exciting question to answer—and it’s not as unrealistic as it might seem.

In a recent Customer Success case study, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in California reported that after streamlining their procurement process with Bonfire, they were able to run projects in 60% less time. While this number varies by team and project size, dramatic time savings are a common experience for all of our clients.

Imagine saving up to 12 hours over the course of a single bid or RFP project. For a team that runs 60-70 bids and RFP projects a year, that time saving represents 780 hours or 32 working days a year!

That got us thinking — if you could save 12 hours every time you ran a project, what would you do with the newfound time?

Here are a few suggestions:

More structured RFPs

Recently, we dove into the data of over 8,000 RFP projects to investigate the main sources of fragility in sourcing decisions. Our research confirmed what many procurement practitioners already know: more structured projects correlate to faster, clearer decisions, and happier stakeholders.

This begs the question: with such a definitive result, why aren’t highly structured RFPs the norm?

The culprit is often simply a lack of time, according to Diane Horvath, Manager of Procurement and Fairness Advisory Services with BDO, speaking in Bonfire’s recent webinar.

“You have to know what you want to get to the granular level. You have to be able to really dive in, understand the business outcomes you’re trying to achieve through your procurement process, and break that down into really small bites,” she explains. “Not enough planning time is allocated to the development and identification of requirements, and that leads to the unstructured nature of many RFPs.”

Time-savings on the manual side of setting up an RFP translates to more time spent developing a robust, highly-structured RFP to set the stage for better decisions.

Watch the recorded webinar for more insights on the Surprising Fragility of Sourcing Decisions.

More time for talent development

Despite an increase in the need for leadership and digital skills among procurement officials, investment in training was on the decline last year, with 25% of teams spending less than 1% of their budget on training (Deloitte’s Global CPO Survey 2017).

Again, time restraints are often to blame: when your team is already working overtime to get projects out the door, it can be practically impossible to implement a training program.

Procurement is moving fast, and the tools and resources available to procurement teams are changing quickly too. Investing in your team’s on-going development will not only keep your team sharp, it will also help future proof your procurement processes.

Better vendor relationships

When procurement professionals aren’t reactively fielding emails and managing project logistics, they are able to go deeper in developing long-term vendor relationship strategies that lead to more competitive RFPs and greater cost savings.

This could mean closing the loop on RFP decisions through vendor performance management, strengthening and growing the vendor pool, or implementing more advanced supplier relationship management (SRM) programs.

Procurement consultancy State of Flux took an in-depth look at SRM programs at 372 organizations around the world. They found that although supplier innovation is a goal for most organizations, around 75% do not have a clear SRM strategy or senior leadership support.

With vendor relationship management on many teams’ 2018 to-do list, less time on manual tasks could mean more time on this key piece of the procurement puzzle.

A real lunch break

A UK survey of 700 procurement professionals painted an all-too-familiar picture of procurement’s lunchtime habits: over half of procurement professionals surveyed ate lunch at their desk, with 74% taking under half an hour and 30% taking under fifteen minutes (Robert Walters UK).

Fewer time-consuming manual tasks could mean taking back the lunch break for you and your over-stretched team—and the improved morale that goes along with it.

Further reading: Bonfire Client Case Studies