Headaches with Excel-based RFP Processing June 26, 2019, 10:14 a.m.

Excel RFP

Processing RFPs requires collaboration between internal departments and external organizations — and managing all of the information that passes between people can get complicated.

Many organizations turn to Excel to help track and manage this process but too often that brings more problems than solutions.


Yes, I know Excel is used by approximately one in seven human beings worldwide — including procurement teams for processing of bids and RFPs.


From the paragraphs below, you will be able to conclude that trusting Excel with your high-impact, high-dollar sourcing decisions is an increasingly risky choice.  


Human error

Using Excel comes with a high risk of human error.


Here’s what makes spreadsheets dangerously prone to errors:


They’re deceptively simple. Many people have basic working knowledge of Excel, but when it comes to advanced formulas and pivot tables, it is easy to mix everything up without realizing it.


They lack oversight. There’s no spellcheck to let you know when you’ve made a mistake, and no formal mechanisms for testing or validation.


No Accountability

When employees make mistakes using Excel, it’s almost impossible to find out who exactly made the mistake in the spreadsheet.

Wasted Time


Managing the RFP evaluation process through spreadsheets requires a significant amount of manual data entry. From inputting vendor information, to aggregating scores, these tedious tasks take up hours of staff time that could be put to more productive use.


“When using an Excel template, we would have to go through each category to ensure there were no errors from all the copy and pasting,” our client confessed “The Excel formulas would often break in the process. It took a lot of time to reconcile.”

Lack consistency and standardization


Every organization has its Excel whiz but for the rest of us, it can be difficult to make heads or tails of the unique spreadsheet configurations that have developed over time in procurement departments. With staff turnover and retirements, it is difficult to ensure consistency and standardization in the process.


Limited collaboration and control


RFP decisions often include many stakeholders from Engineering to Finance.


However, spreadsheets weren’t built to be used by multiple people at once. As a result, it’s common to find yourself poring over multiple versions of the same spreadsheet, trying to determine which is the most current. The end result is yet more manual data entry to harmonize the various copies.


This is not just a hassle, but also a source of risk. Unlike a database, spreadsheets contain no version control or audit trails — leaving you with no record of who accessed a document and what information they changed.


Poor Information Security


The most common way teams collaborate using Excel is to email the spreadsheets back and forth. Unfortunately, this practice can lead to private information landing in the wrong hands.

With privacy concerns at the top of everyone’s mind, this isn’t an issue your organization can afford to ignore.


Poor tracking


How many spreadsheets would you have to consult to determine the total spend and savings of your procurement department this year? After each complete RFP, the file is archived requiring a lot of manual effort to report on metrics. This leaves many organizations with incomplete visibility over their spend and missed opportunities for consolidation and cost savings.


What You Can Do About It

SRMhub is an automated, end-to-end RFP management solution that can remove these concerns.

It allows procurement teams to reduce manual work and evaluate bids and RFPs more efficiently ensuring full transparency and spend visibility.