My colleague Corri North responds to lots of RFPs and recently she wrote some thoughts for folks looking to creating an RFP for an ECM solution. I think it might be interesting for those of you embarking on a software RFP….
If you’ve ever been involved in making any kind of enterprise software purchase, you know that no step of the process is easy. But, some parts of the process aren’t as well-defined as others, leaving you to guess the best approach to success.
Take the later stages of product selection, especially when it comes to enterprise content management (ECM) software. Corporate websites become a blur, and every salesperson talks about how you need a comprehensive strategy for whatever type of software it is you’re looking for.
My suggestion to prospects is that instead of trying to guess what your short-listed vendors offer, invest time into creating an RFP with very specific questions designed to differentiate one vendor from another.
But, oftentimes the challenge isn’t deciding to do an RFP – it’s positioning the questions in the right way to get at these differentiators that’s the problem. If you’re feeling this same pain, you’re in luck – here is an overview to getting started with an RFP (and – SPOILER ALERT – a full sample RFP is available for download at the end!).
I typically recommend focusing on two main parts for the RFP: 1) Clearly expressing the compelling event that led you to the search for an ECM solution in the first place and 2) Calling out the requirements that you need from an ideal solution.
Step 1 – The compelling event. Use your RFP to articulate the compelling event that led you to go to RFP for an ECM solution. Identify the recognized operating problems or challenges, outline what people in your organization are complaining about specific to existing processes and make it clear to the responding vendors what your pain points are. Setting expectations with this information will help the vendors offer responses that are more meaningful to your organization.
Step 2 – The requirements. This is the larger portion of this ECM RFP endeavor. Now that you have conveyed the reasoning behind your search for an ECM solution, you must define the requirements that are a necessity for your ECM solution to be a success. These requirements may include vendor stability, functional capabilities of the system, technical and architectural considerations, vendor-offered training options, technical support methodologies, and, of course, cost!
Still looking for more meat to help create an RFP for ECM? For those ready to dive in headfirst, here is an outline (okay, at just over 40 pages, it’s more of a complete document) of the best, most effective questions for selecting an ECM vendor.