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New year, new supplier? How to plan the least painful change of suppliers via an RFP

This article originally apeared in EGaming review magazine in January 2018

We’re in 2018 already and ICE (plus its cheeky sibling LAC) are upon us once again – how time flies. That means we’re all mired in dry January, false promises to renew our gym habit and budget planning for the year ahead. What it also means is that many annual contracts are likely to have come up for renewal with your suppliers.

Uh oh… can you just pretend everything’s fine and leave it for another year (or another colleague) to manage? No – no you can’t – this is on you, buddy.

Whether platform, CRM, affiliate, media agency, legal, social or recruitment these agreements will likely suck up a significant chunk of your 2018 marketing spend, so if you’re anything other than overjoyed with the service you’re getting, now’s the time to sense check you’ll be working with the very best partners for this year and beyond.

If there are problems and you need to make a change I’d recommend prioritising a list. You don’t want to be running more than two ‘Request for Proposals’ (RFPs) processes at any one time. Decide on which areas need taking care of, and if necessary pick the top one or two problem areas to focus on.

From here, have a look at the supplier contract. This will give you important info on things like the contract end date, deliverables, exit clauses and the lead time you need to give in case of termination plus it can act as a basis for your new RFP brief – the specific areas that you’ll need covering by your new supplier.

Brief written, you can research the long list candidates. Let’s use casino platforms as an example: -

You know the big guys – Microgaming, Playtech, NetEnt, IGT, SciGames and Nyx are all pretty famous and you can hardly miss their stands at ICE (some should have their own post code). You might also want to add some less established but hungry platforms and aggregators – Bede, EveryMatrix, Iforium, White Hat to name a few – it doesn’t hurt to have a look at everyone at the long list stage. You’re very possibly reading this at or during ICE so take a few hours to walk the floor, listen to some pitches and garner the advice of friends and competitors alike – in our tight knit industry people tend to be pretty useful guides when it comes to recommendations.

Next up you need to filter down – it’s not fair nor practical to ask ten companies to pitch for your business, and it’ll take up all your available time to even look at six seriously. If you’ve down your homework and asked around you should be able to have a very strong shortlist before asking for proposals – three is plenty.

The key to a successful RFP is in two parts – a clear, concise and all encompassing brief and your capacity to negotiate to terms that will be current all the way to the end of the contracted period. Things change, people change and markets change so its worth taking the time with your legal counsel to imagine every eventually before selecting your preferred partner.

Finally, make your recommendation – for something as big as casino platform selection everyone from your Chairman down will have a vested interest and an opinion, so be sure to share widely and rationalise your recommendation fully from the start.

Once everyone’s happy, you can let the lucky winner know, but remember, whilst they’re celebrating the losing parties also deserve as much feedback you can give them. After all, its likely a huge amount of work went on behind the scenes to deliver their RFP response and they’re getting noting in return – the least you owe them is some insight into why they were unsuccessful.

That’s it – RFPs made easy – now just rinse & repeat several times to create your perfect supplier portfolio. Or just put the hours into the brief and the process once and you might not have to review your partner relationships and initiate any wearisome RFPs for the next couple of years.

Sounds idyllic.

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