Do you need an RFP?

Paula Currie


When schools and districts decide to sell back their aging edtech devices, they often issue Requests for Proposals (or RFPs) or Requests for Quotes (RFQ) to find the best buyback partner.

Is this step necessary? Can an RFP backfire?

While some school districts require a formal RFP, if the process doesn’t ask the right questions, it actually can do more harm than good. That’s because a quote process focused solely on price can overlook important qualities to look for in a partner, and actually may end up costing the district money.

I heard recently from an IT director at a school who was frustrated after receiving far less for his sellback inventory than was quoted. The school selected a buyback company based on price alone, not realizing that some companies increase their Grade A price to look attractive, knowing that few if any of the devices traded in will fall into the Grade A category. Simply looking at the bottom line, the buyback company looked good; the reality is that the school received $75,000 less than they were expecting.

The way to avoid this type of a scenario is to create a search process that asks the right questions, so you have an accurate way to assess proposals. Here are questions to ask to uncover the partner who most benefits your school:

  1. Given the age of our devices and our honest assessment of their status, how do you think the devices will be graded?
  2. Can you share your grading rubric?
  3. What other services can you provide that will make the trade-in go smoothly, and what do those services cost?
  4. What is your assessment of our trade-in timing, and are there other strategies we should look at that would deliver a higher payback the next time we refresh?
  5. How much experience does your team have in managing the sales and lifecycle of Apple devices?
  6. Do your employees manage the entire process and maintain a chain of custody of our devices from pick up through refurbishment?
  7. Can you provide proof that all data is securely removed from devices, and that broken devices are removed from Apple School Manager and recycled responsibly?
  8. Can you meet our preferred schedule for trading in our devices?
  9. Can you provide me a number of references?

For more detail, take a look at our article in EdTech Digest.