The RFP fades
“The RFP continues to be an essential piece of the competitive procurement process, particularly for complex products and services,” says Tanowitz of Pace Harmon. “However, we are seeing more collaborative approaches to RFPs, such as co-developing statements of work and creating more solution-oriented approaches to RFPs that lend more flexibility to the process and allow suppliers to offer innovative solutions.”
While the RFP remained entrenched, it did not go unquestioned. “The RFP has not gone away, but the old templates have grown stale, and sourcing processes, including RFPs, need to become more adaptive,” says Alsbridge’s Huber. The tried-and-true approach never worked well for emerging technologies, says Peterson of Mayer Brown. “There, RFIs, RFSs and Proof of Concept projects work better. However, the RFP has remained a trusty tool for traditional outsourcing deals where it remains important to communicate requirements and obtain comparable information from potential service providers.”
Wait and see
Dawn of the cloud robots
“We’ve certainly seen an uptick in conversations about robotics process automation (RPA), but the reality is that cloud robots are still little more than Excel macros at this point,” says Tanowitz. “Providers discuss cloud robots frequently and the benefits can be meaningful in terms of productivity gains, but we haven’t seen clients take advantage of the technology in a meaningful way.” Automation is advancing, says Brian Bodor, partner in the global sourcing practice of Pillsbury, “but we have yet to see the ‘rise of the machines.’ We expect to continue to watch this trend in 2016 and beyond.”
Where robotics and automation have taken hold is not cloud computing, but business process outsourcing, says Roy of Mayer Brown.
Supplier risk takes centre stage
Outsourcing customers did not get serious about supplier risk overall, but they did get hyper-focused on cybersecurity. As a result, clients paid more attention to service location in signing deals, says Eisner of Mayer Brown. “We generally see supplier risk conversations ebb and flow with current events,” explains Pace Harmon’s Tanowitz. “Rather than preparing for supplier risk based on geographic instability or events, we’re seeing enterprises preparing more holistically for disaster response and recovery, including assessing cybersecurity risks and the protection of customer data that may be in the hands of their supplier.
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