Whether you’re new to, or an experienced user of HR software, getting the best system for your business is likely a high priority.
With that goal in mind, finding a software provider is no easy task. For more complex projects, businesses often opt for a request for proposal (RFP) process. This process requires vendors to submit proposals demonstrating how their product addresses your business’ needs. When you create a clear RFP, you’re setting up the business to find the best fit for your project.
We’ve participated in the RFP process for many businesses over the years, and found there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. But, there are sure-fire ways businesses can get the most out of the process and ensure each step runs as smoothly as possible. To support you throughout the process, we’ve put together five tips to keep in mind for your next RFP. These tips will kick you off to a strong start and ensure vendors are putting their best solutions forward.
What is an RFP?
In short, a request for proposal (RFP) is a document used by a business to outline the requirements for a specific project. The RFP, once announced, then gets bids from qualified vendors. The business then conducts a review process to identify the best fit for the project.
As a general rule, the RFP document should act as an agreement for stakeholders and collaborators. It should include project information like:
How to get the most out of your RFP process
Keen to hear our tips on getting the most out of your RFP process? Keep reading.
1. Be realistic about how you rate your functionality requirements
If everything is a must-have, then nothing is genuinely a must-have. Not all requirements are equal. To create some clarity around your functionality requirements, rank each one based on their benefit to the business. Make sure that you always keep the purpose and problem you are trying to solve front of mind. Then, to help you decide on the best elements, ask yourself if it’s critical to solving the problem or if it’s a ‘nice to have’.
2. Choose a SaaS platform that helps with 80% of your needs
There, we said it. Before starting, it’s essential to come to terms with the fact that there isn’t one SaaS platform that will solve all of your needs and wants. The better approach is the 80/20 rule. Aim for a SaaS platform that helps you meet 80%. The 80/20 approach will keep you from getting bogged down and choosing something that offers closer to 50% of what you need. Instead, the quicker you can decide on factors that meet most of your needs, the faster you can get to the more critical elements.
3. Set clear expectations on how you want the vendor to respond
Make it easier for the vendor to respond by being clear on the format. Vendors are completing RFPs constantly. The more effortless it is for vendors to navigate and respond to your request, the better-quality response you’ll receive. A clear answer means you’ll have a better understanding of the system you’ll be receiving. Communicating with vendors can eat up precious time if done without a straightforward process and system. By setting clear expectations from the start, you’ll save yourself any headache down the line.
4. Structure your requirements so vendors can respond with their solutions
When you have strict guidelines for a vendor such as “Must have the ability to perform X process like X”, you won’t elicit a helpful response. Instead, you’re most likely going to get a “No” instead of a solution that could meet your needs. Our tip? Try and frame requirements around the outcome that the process is trying to achieve. For example, you can say “Must have the ability to allow X outcome”. If the system can achieve the right outcome, that’s all that matters.
5. Be realistic about the timeline
Remember that completing an RFP can take a lot of time and coordination. So don’t expect to create, distribute and analyse responses in an unrealistic time frame. The goal should always be to get the right fit. The quicker you want to get a system up and running, the lower your expectations need to be on the fit outcome. When you set a realistic timeline, your expectations are more likely to be met.
A well-done RFP process defines a project for the company that issues it and the vendors that respond to it. It should convey the project’s intention, ensure an open process, and have multiple bidders respond.
Throughout this process, set expectations from the get-go. This gives you the power to make the most informed decision for your business possible.