The legal department at 3M Co. has leveraged requests for proposals as a precision tool for hiring the right outside law firms for the right jobs at the right price. But 3M’s in-house leaders have realized another benefit of the RFP process: It’s created an opportunity to have candid conversations with firms that didn’t get the work.

“They want to know why,” Maureen Harms, associate general counsel and managing counsel at 3M in St. Paul, Minnesota, said. “In talking to them, you’re able to help them see what they’re missing. Then they can adjust and the next time they can win. It’s a good example of what the best feedback does for you.”