Many companies that look for a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software start with a Request for Proposal (RFP), which they send to vendors before viewing demos or having detailed discussions. It is an easy way to get direct responses from many vendors without having to spend hours on demos. While it can be time consuming to create an RFP, it is well worth it because with the feedback you get, it is much easier to eliminate vendors that will not be a good fit. Then, with the best fits narrowed down, you can bring in the best of the best for demos. Here are five tips to help you create the best RFP for your company.
- Start with your company background
It is best to start by detailing your company. Items such as what you do, size, revenue, locations are all important to note as it can weed out some vendors right away. They may even tell you right off the bat if you are not in their sweet spot and exclude themselves. The more specific you can get, the better it will be. Also state any growth plans you have as you will want an ERP you can grow with.
- Set timelines for vendors
The first timeline should be when you require the formal responses to be in by. A week or two should be plenty. Anyone who cannot meet this timeline should be excluded immediately. If they can’t even get an RFP in on time, can you imagine how they would be in other areas?
The other timeline should include dates for when you would like to review demos, make a final decision, start implementation, and complete implementation. It will be best to give yourself too much time rather than too little. It should be a good baseline for reference at worst.
- State the budget
This is perhaps the firmest part of the RFP. Be clear with what the company budget is. Really put the max value of what you can spend as well as how many users you would need. Companies should be able to give a ballpark as they know what their ranges are. If anyone refuses, they are simply trying to bypass the steps you are requesting. That is never a good sign.
- Use specific criteria used for final selection
This is where the company needs to come together to list specific requirements for the ERP. Cover all aspects of the company and consult with the employees to learn what the needs and wants are. Ask questions about now only what the ERP can do, but what it cannot do or what the limitations are as well.
Keep this information detailed, but as brief as possible. Focus on the needs first and then go into the wants. The base system is far more important than the bells and whistles so you do want to be distracted by fancy add-ons.
- Ask for similar customers success stories
This one builds right off tip number one. After sharing details about your company, ask for success stories they have had with similar customers. Ask for a general overview of how their software was configured to meet the needs of a similar company. You can help eliminate vendors this way as well because if they cannot come up with any comparable customers, that should be a warning sign. Wait to ask for references until you have selected your final few references.