By Joe Paduda, Author, Managed Care Matters
Last week’s piece detailed the problems inherent in the RFP process; lots of vendors doing lots of work answering lots of questions in an attempt to win business where only one will succeed. Decisions delayed, decisions deferred, decisions never made.
Potential vendors answering formulaic questions with pat answers, unable to differentiate, to describe how they can do a better, faster, job more efficiently.
Buyers struggling to figure out what the vendors really mean, how they differ, which one is truly a better choice.
There’s a better way; a much better way.
Think of it this way. The erstwhile purchaser is looking to buy the vendor’s services because the vendor is somehow better at delivering those services than the buyer. The vendor’s primary business is likely the delivery of those services; this is their focus, their area of expertise. It is not a sideline or peripheral activity; it’s what they do.
The vendor’s depth and breadth of experience is greater than the buyer’s. They deliver those services to a few/several/many buyers and thus know what works and what doesn’t.
Yet the traditional RFP process doesn’t really allow the vendor to demonstrate that expertise. Instead it forces the vendor to respond to specific questions with specific answers; there’s little opportunity to offer a better or more creative solution as that may fall afoul of the scoring methodology.
Flip the process.
Instead of telling the vendor what it wants, the buyer should describe the problem and ask the vendor to come up with a solution.
The buyer collects all pertinent information; dollars spent and services purchased, workflows and processes in place, IT connections used and necessary, history and past experience, results of previous solutions, staff and resources available. This gives the vendor the information they need to clearly and completely understand the buyer’s situation and operating environment. The vendor also has to know the buyer’s goals and expectations, timeline and how the buyer will measure results.
Next, the buyer invites the prospective to an onsite meeting. The buyer restates the objective, shows the vendor its internal processes and flows, and answers the vendor’s questions.
Finally, the buyer asks a single question. Now that you know my situation, understand my limitations, objectives, and resources, how will you solve my problem?
The vendor’s task is now clear. Use all it’s accumulated expertise, the knowledge gained from years working the problem for multiple customers, the lessons learned and processes tested to develop a solution that fits the buyer, that meets their objectives while accommodating their limitations.
The answers the buyer gets will almost certainly be much more creative, diverse, and enlightening than anything that the buyer can develop on their own. Sure, they’ll be harder to ‘score’, but only if the buyer uses the same methodology and perspective.
The process will bring out the best in each vendor while forcing the buyer to confront it’s own limitations. But the extra angst will very likely be far outweighed by better results from what will be a much more educational – and enjoyable – process for all involved.
About Joe Paduda
Joseph Paduda is a nationally recognized expert, speaker, media source and author on managed care in group health and in workers’ compensation. He translates complex data into actionable knowledge and is able to take an aerial view or to drill down into intricate niches.
His practical approach and 20 plus years experience in the field give clients precise direction and applicable programs.
He writes the popular weblog Managed Care Matters attracting more than 1500 unique visitors a day and a good deal of comment in the health care world. His blogs are frequently republished on other sites. Mr. Paduda also conducts industry surveys, including focused on managing pharmacy costs within workers’ compensation, bill review in workers comp, and work comp claims systems.
Prior to founding Health Strategy Associates in 1997, Mr. Paduda served in sales, marketing and management positions with managed care and insurance companies, including MetraComp, a United Health Care Company, Travelers Health Company, Liberty Mutual and American International Healthcare/AIG.
A frequent speaker and prolific author, Mr Paduda has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, Fox Business News, AirAmerica, and NPR and been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, TheStreet.com and many industry publications.
About Health Strategy Associates
Health Strategy Associates is a national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation and group health. The firm serves insurers, managed care companies, employers, health care providers, and venture capitalists.
Developing a successful managed care program is like mastering chess, a game in which a series of decisive, logical moves – driven by analysis, research and insight – lead to victory. By constantly monitoring the world of health care and the macro factors and policies influencing it, we help clients make informed and intelligent decisions.
Principal Joseph Paduda has an unrestricted view of the national market and its players and an uncanny ability to take a big-picture view and drill down into the smallest niches. His advice will help you summon the full force of your resources to create better products, stronger market share and greater profits.