What are the top five things to include in a RFP to best understand a vendor’s options?
- Know what you want. Clearly define the scope of the project before you begin writing and making requests.
- Be clear and concise. Keep the RFP as short as possible while still being inclusive of your requirements. You’ll receive better responses with clearly defined questions and specifications as opposed to long, rambling documents that leave too much to the interpretation of the responder.
- Rank and weight. Try to stick with 5 – 7 categories and relevant sets of questions, making sure they’re ranked and weighted appropriately. You want to ensure all relevant groups/departments are equally represented in the request so that one department doesn’t override or exclude another.
- Understand and communicate. Provide an executive summary at the beginning of the document that includes where you are and clearly defines where you want to be at the conclusion of the process. Don’t require a scope of features and functions that exceeds the actual needs of the project you’re quoting.
- Include all relevant criteria. Don’t exclude any specific features or functions unless there is a valid, documented business reason. Allow the vendors to tailor their solutions to the full scope of the RFP.
What do most purchasers forget to ask in their RFP?
I find that a lot of RFP’s don’t ask questions. What they provide is just a long document of statements without any real questions in there.
I also believe that too many people jump right into RFPs and bypass the RFI (Request for Information). You get responses from everybody, big and small, when you only send out an RFP. It can be very confusing and distracting to sort thru a large number of vendor responses that may, or may not be relevant to the original request. The RFI can be extremely helpful during the pre-selection process as it allows you to narrow down the potential list of vendors to your specific situation and weeds out the inferior vendors.
When dealing with PACS systems it’s very easy to overlook and miss things. Creating an executive summary equipped with detailed diagrams of your current and future state is critical to ensure you receive appropriate responses. It acts as a guide by easily separating vendors that don’t suit your needs from ones that match your documented criteria.
What is the best way to evaluate products from different vendors?
I would say there are really three important factors to evaluate before selecting a vendor-of-choice:
- Compare apples-to-apples. Don’t let a supposedly unique feature make your decision for you. Make sure you evaluate each vendor equally based on your needs.
- Be objective and critical. Rank and weight the responses based on tangible, measurable results.
- Be proactive. Don’t make a decision solely based off of a piece of paper. Conduct on-site interviews of each vendor’s proposal.
Lastly, choose a vendor! This can either be a blatantly obvious choice from your review of the RFP submissions, or require you to do a more in-depth evaluation in a head-to-head environment. Either way, following these guidelines can provide you with the necessary assistance to select the best suited vendor.
Below is a sample template of a RFP, which can be downloaded here.
This post previously published on Everything Rad provides additional information about tender bids that can help the process.