Planning for RFP success.

While conducting a request for proposal (RFP) process for a card issuer is typically not on anyone’s list of favorite activities, planning carefully can prevent future pain. At the National P-Cards on Campus Conference last week, I had the pleasure of moderating a general session panel on the topic of RFPs. Between the panelists and participating attendees, I gained a fresh perspective on four key aspects, as described below. Even if you are not doing an RFP any time soon, it never hurts to take notes now, so you are more prepared when the time comes.

Financial Model of Issuers/Banks

We know interchange feeds the revenue share incentives offered by issuers. However, there is the broader economic climate. Interest rates are expected to rise, which puts more pressure on banks. In turn, speed of pay could play a bigger role in proposals and, subsequently, your next contract. Is your organization willing to pay the issuer more quickly or frequently than in the past to maximize revenue share? It helps to understand factors like this when embarking on an RFP.    

Whether to Include Treasury Services

An RFP that combines one or more card programs along with other banking/treasury services could be more appealing to issuers and result in greater benefits for you. A drawback is that one bank may not be the best choice for every piece. Some conference attendees also pointed out the lack of synergy between the card program management team and treasury department that would make RFP collaboration difficult. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile option to explore in case it might be right for your organization.

Who to Invite to Bid

How do you decide which issuers to include? I was impressed with attendees who retain an active and evolving database of options, so they do not have to scramble later. The session also revealed it can be advantageous to take cold calls from issuers. Hear them out, as it could affect your future RFP and bidder list. In addition, prior to creating an RFP, attend industry conferences and speak directly with card issuers. Besides obtaining contact information (for the appropriate RFP recipient), ask questions that encourage meaningful discussion, such as: 

  • How do you help clients grow their programs?
  • What resources do you offer for “X?” Consider what is most important to your organization, such as on-boarding suppliers, technology for auditing transactions, etc.
  • What do you recommend for solving “X” challenge? You might walk away with actionable solutions to help you today.

Duration to Keep an RFP Open

There were mixed opinions on this aspect. Eight weeks seems to be a good target that gives issuers ample time. Despite some content being boilerplate in nature, issuers (and their respective networks) have to do a lot of customization to properly respond to an RFP. On a related note, the timing of your RFP can matter. Launching one at or near year end (especially if only open for a few weeks) sends a message that your organization may simply be doing a “pricing exercise.” Poor timing and/or too short of a duration may prevent some issuers from responding.  

Panelists and Conference Host

I want to acknowledge and thank the panelists from the session:

  • Larry Andress, Bank of America
  • Orson Morgan, Visa
  • Kathy Ann Sheils, Cornell University

Kudos to the conference host as well: Professional Development Group (PDG)

 Use good planning to untangle the maze of a tedious RFP process.

Use good planning to untangle the maze of a tedious RFP process.

Additional RFP Content

The aspects addressed here are just four of many. See other RFP content provided by Recharged Education, including previous blog posts:

RFP Assistance

If your organization is interested in external assistance for its next RFP, submit a contact form to learn how Recharged Education can support your process. 

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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