We live in a fast-paced world and fast-paced marketing teams can be impatient. Vendors in this space can be a bit impatient too. Anyone who’s dealt with a Salesforce.com sales person knows how much you can be pushed to sign up a few users and “try it”. Before you know it you’ve got 100 users all working in a different way, a big annual bill and an integration headache that IT has to solve.
However, not all implementations need a heavy-weight RFP process. Getting the right balance between not wasting a vendor’s time (this does matter) and getting enough rigour to keep your risks low (which matters more) is an art. But here are a few key do’s and don’ts to running an effective RFP, which we share here.
- Limit the number of vendors you invite to pitch via an RFP (3-5 maximum). If you want to hear from more vendors – create a pre-RFP stage and use a Request for Information of 1-2 pages before you ask them to spend hours, and often days, developing a detailed proposal.
- Prepare yourselves. The information you get back from an RFP is only as good as the information you request. Do your research about what you want and need, be clear and think through the process for the RFP itself, explaining the structure of what you want back so you can compare.
- Run an RFP just to get pricing. If you just want to compare prices and have already chosen a vendor, just ask for pricing. You don’t need a full RFP to find out what someone is likely to charge. Only carry out a full RFP if you intend doing your part, i.e. reading the proposals, thoroughly and comparing on other factors, not just price.
- Don’t take the attitude we can ask for hours and days of solution providers’ time on the basis that if they want our business, they must do it, and on our schedule. Be reasonable. You want a partnership with your provider, the RFP sets the tone and you’re responsible for that and how the relationship starts. Get it right. A motivated and enthusiastic vendor is what you want.
Remember, the goal is the right partner and the right software and a great relationship to support your business. Be clear what you want, be fair and reasonable and your RFP will run more smoothly.