Software Request for Proposal (RFP) tips!

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Have you identified that your business needs new enterprise software? Are you about to approach market to find the best software? Before you start inviting software vendors for quick demos and help you solve your business problems, make sure you have done your homework!

Consider following action items before you send RFP/RFQ (Request for Proposal/Quote) to any software vendor:

1. Understand your Business model – Searching for software without understanding of your Business model is like going to Train station without knowing your destination. You should have complete understanding of your business (Enterprise). You should be able to clearly document following dimensions for your business:

  • Customer segments (Retail, Wholesale, Niche etc.)
  • Suppliers
  • Regulators
  • Value proposition
  • Value chains or line of services (both revenue generating and support services – like HR)
  • Channels through which value is delivered to the customer (Courier, Internet, Rail etc.)
  • Existing technology assets (software, hardware and network)
  • Partnership with other businesses
  • Geographic locations of Business sites

This information is vital to help you take important decisions later in the software selection process.

2. Determine Business Operating model – If your business is (or will be) at multiple geographic locations then your business should follow same standardise business processes throughout all locations?

OR

Business processes should be customised for each location to accommodate for different customer types and services?

What about data? Complete company data should be available at all business locations?

OR

Data should be managed at business division/regional level?

Business operating model will provide answers to some key questions during software selection process, Architecture planning and design, Software implementation planning and solution development.

3. Identify Business Problems -> Needs -> Requirement (High level)

For example:

Business Problem Needs Requirements
Business cannot track sales leads, quotes and interactions Software to record interactions between customer and our business

Software should record:

  • Customer records
  • Email interactions
  • Quote management
  • Phone calls
Customer complaints about poor customer service on phone Need to implement company phone handling policy Phone policy should be accessible on software

Note that at the end of this process you may determine that business does not require new software but work needs to be done purely on business processes or business needs refresher training course on the existing software.

4. Determine type of software required. Based on information identified and documented in step 1 to 3 identify if business requires:

  • Vertical product like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, Document Management system, Asset Management system etc
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution
  • Or, it is specialised software for unique business requirement?

5. Software procurement options – Determine options for software procurement. Following options should be considered:

  • In-house software development
  • Buy ‘Commercial Off The Shelf’ (COTS) software product

6. Prepare for RFP/RFQ

Software implementation is a complex business. Some of the decisions made early in the software selection processes cannot be reverted. Business should carefully plan this phase and build a solid foundation for software implementation.

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