Months to Minutes: How to create, issue, and manage RFIs and RFPs (part 1)

Popcorn RFP is the secure, compliant software-as-a-service solution to optimize your product and service selection. We built the software to help you modernize the way you do RFIs and RFPs and in this series of three posts we’ll introduce some of the ways the software can help you with these important purchasing documents.

These posts will help you get going with Popcorn RFP, but the software is intuitive and easy to use. If you’d prefer to dive right in, you can click on over to the Popcorn RFP web application to create a free account and try for yourself. You can also skip ahead to the second or third posts in this series. 

Start your purchasing project with a few clicks

We designed Popcorn RFP with ease-of-use in mind and we’ve paid special attention to usability for first-time users. It’s always challenging to start using something new or to change the tools or techniques we’ve previously used for a task. But it’s especially easy to get going with Popcorn RFP in minutes using a simple, straightforward account enrollment process. Once you answer a few questions (plus review and accept our Terms of Service), the software will ask if you want to create an RFI or RFP. We recommend creating an RFI with sample data as a first-time experience to see how the software works, but you could go ahead and create and issue a real RFx your very first time using the software!

Screenshot of the first account enrollment window in Popcorn RFP
Enrolling for a Popcorn RFP account is designed to get users going quickly.

Move over templates, introducing “kernels”

RFx documents (RFIs, RFPs, and others) that you create in Popcorn RFP are based on what we call “kernels.” There’s a lot to say about kernels and they provide a powerful and versatile document architecture. For now, just know that you must select a kernel in order to create an RFx. Kernels contain a pre-built document structure as well as text that is locked-in and will be included in every RFx generated from that kernel. We designed kernels in response to feedback from procurement officers who requested a document structure that strikes a balance between rigidity and flexibility – being able to accommodate text that must be included in every RFx (sometimes called “boilerplate” info) and simultaneously enabling unique customizations for each unique purchasing project. Kernels let you satisfy both of these seeming contradictory imperatives in a way that increases efficiency, ensures compliance with organizational policies and legal requirements, and decreases or eliminates stakeholder frustration.

Screenshot of the kernel library in Popcorn RFP
The Kernel Library in Popcorn RFP enables users to select the best starting point for their purchasing projects leveraging “kernels.”

You can use kernels created by the community, share your own kernels, or keep them private for yourself or your team or organization. When you come to the Kernel Library in Popcorn RFP, you’ll see some community kernels that are available to all users. These will have descriptions and usually also include a sample RFx document created from that kernel. Users have told us that being able to leverage community-sourced kernels was incredibly useful, but they also wanted to be able to create custom kernels exactly to their specifications. As a result, we’ve introduced the “Request a kernel” option where you can upload a document to create a custom kernel. For basic (free) accounts, custom kernels are shared with the community in the Kernel Library; but individual, team, or enterprise accounts can mark their custom kernels as “private” and restrict access. We encourage all users to default their custom kernels to community access since that way other users may be able to benefit from not reinventing the wheel.

Screenshot of the "kernel request" option in the kernel library in Popcorn RFP.
Users can request custom kernels created from of their templates or a previous RFP or RFI.

The next post in this series picks up from here with the specifics of creating an RFx. It explains how Popcorn RFP is designed to help you work more efficiently and effectively on RFIs and RFPs the very first time you use it, and how the software gets more intelligent over time, enabling you to save even more time on your tenth or twentieth RFx. Of course, you can also dive right in and try it for yourself by creating a free account!

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