The eProcurement and Procure-to-Pay (P2P) market is brimming with options, from best-in-breed to end-to-end solutions. So, how do you identify the best fit for your organization?
A comprehensive, calculated Request for Proposal (RFP) is mission critical to selecting the ideal solution for long-term success.
In fact, your team might spend hours drafting each question with purpose. The number of questions and issues addressed directly relate to the quality of information you gather from vendors.
The bottom line: make each question count.
>> Related read: 3 Steps to Building a Needs-Based RFP for Procurement
While questions are a key piece of the RFP puzzle, they’re not everything. To receive RFP responses that enable you to make an educated decision, you’ll need to consider how your questions are formatted and identify what supplemental information to provide.
Below are four categories to consider before sending out your RFP.
1. RFP Question Types
The questions included in an RFP are certainly paramount. But, the format of the RFP is equally important.
The way vendors answer your questions will impact the depth of information provided. For example, Yes - No or True - False questions give you the ability to easily compare vendors; however, they also limit the vendor in offering additional details.
We suggest including an open comment box at the end of a series of Yes - No questions, so a vendor can offer more information about their response.
2. Company Background
To ensure their responses align with your needs, vendors will need additional information about your company, existing systems, pain points, and goals. This information should be contained within a cover letter or 1-3 page document that you’ll send over with the RFP questions.
Specifically, we recommend including:
- A brief history of your company
- Your reason(s) for pursuing a new solution
- Your existing procurement process landscape, including:
- Which ERPs to consider
- Number of suppliers (catalog vs. non-catalog)
- Number of catalog SKUs
- Which categories are to be enabled
- Whether services will need to be addressed
- Number of purchase orders/invoices
- Number of users
- Languages that need to be supported
To avoid ambiguities that may lead to an over-abundance of questions from your prospects, the information provided during this stage is key. Being clear from the start here will keep you on task. Predict vendor questions and answer them in the background provided to avoid delays.
3. Specific Instructions
You’re going to have your own internal RFP milestones and deadlines. So, to ensure you get complete responses on time, you’ll need to provide instructions to the vendor. These should include:
- Key organizational milestones
- Material due dates
- Questions protocol
- Submission instructions
- Instructions on how to connect with your point of contact, and when they will be available
4. RFP Scoring System
Evaluating and rating RFP submissions can be overwhelming. To make the process more efficient, establish a scoring system that weighs the importance of questions differently.
This scoring system should be communicated to vendors upfront.
Every scoring system is unique and based on initial strategy and goals. Always assign a higher value to questions regarding must-have features, as compared to nice-to-have functionality. For example: if scalability is crucial to P2P implementation success, weight any related questions three times heavier than other question categories (i.e. usability, supplier management, etc.).
Below are a few resources on how to create your own scoring method:
- What Are The Standard RFP Scoring Methodologies?, Supplier Select
- Request for Proposals Evaluation Guide, Reform Support Network
- RFP Weighted Scoring - Demystified, RFP 365
One more critical tip: be sure you understand whether the terms you are using are industry terms or vendor specific terms. Vendor specific terms may cause an inadvertent advantage to that vendor.
With all of the above in mind, you’re ready to send your RFP to the 6 to 8 vendors you’ve identified as potential fits. A streamlined process will help your team to make the right decisions, and hopefully, implement a new solution company-wide.
Best of luck in finding the right solution for your organization!
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