Alpha’s view on RFP best practice

Alpha has run a number of outsourcing Service Provider selection processes in recent years and developed a proprietary best practice methodology


Alpha has managed a significant number of recent outsourcing Service Provider selection processes for managers globally in both the traditional and alternative sectors – covering Request for Information (RFI), Request for Proposal (RFP) and Pre-Contract selection phases.

What trends are we seeing in the market?
  • Varying client requirements as to the level of due diligence required – from light and accelerated selection processes (often associated with less complex, more mature outsourced businesses) to heavier and more typical processes (often associated with more complex, less mature outsourced businesses)
  • Alpha can effectively tailor their methodology and approach to a client’s requirements, noting we are able to significantly accelerate the selection process should it be required

What is Best Practice?

Best practice should consider the following independent of the desired duration:
1. Align on Scope and Approach

  • It is important that the objectives of the manager are clearly understood and the level of Service Provider due diligence and length of selection process are aligned
  • Alpha will play a role in ensuring scope is tightly maintained with requirements focused on the desired outcome and where possible aligned with the operating model market standards adopted by the Service Providers

2. Ensure Clear Engagement

  • Service Providers should be engaged early in the process with clear principles of engagement set from the outset
  • Regular communication is essential to ensure expectations are managed and Service Providers feel sufficiently supported through the process
  • Engagement should be used to understand the Service Provider’s appetite for the business but to also generate excitement around the RFP and the opportunity it presents

3. Create a Level Playing Field

  • Scope must be clearly articulated in terms of operating model and business volumes to enable Service Providers to prepare an accurate service and commercial response – any information dissemination to one Service Provider on the back of questions must be shared with all
  • Key success factors should be defined particularly for the qualitative parts of the RFP e.g. Site Visits and Q&A sessions

4. Gain Early Buy-in to Terms

  • Key commercial and legal terms should be included in the RFP document for Service Providers to respond to as part of their response. If there are any commercial sticking points or even showstoppers it is important these are identified early

5. Maintain Competitive Tension

  • When entering final negotiations, the focus should be on negotiating with 2 of the most competitive and best suited Service Providers
  • The third Service Provider should not be discounted, but does not need to be included unless negotiations break down with one of the others

6. Promote Partnership

  • We see this as one of the most important considerations – an equitable partnership will lead to a much more successful long term relationship. The ethos and objectives should be instilled early on in the selection process

How can Alpha help?

  • A tailored approach to support client’s requirements and objectives, from an accelerated review to a more typical phased approach
  • Proprietary selection methodology with pre-defined templates for all operational functions – helping to accelerate the process
  • An unparalleled database of benchmarking data (no one has he breadth and depth that we do) – supporting both an effective commercial negotiation and the development of an effective service model
  • Deep experience across the outsourcing value chain and the provider landscape (we are, or have been, engaged by every one of the major Service Providers) – helping you to make the right decision from long list to recommended provider
  • Our approach does not adopt a confrontational tactic – we have a track record of helping clients to develop equitable partnerships

“An effective selection process must ensure the approach is tailored to the client’s objectives, clear engagement principles are set and maintained with the Service Providers and a partnership approach is promoted from the outset”


Joe Docker, Co-head of Operations and Outsourcing Practice