If you’re a nonprofit or government entity considering new enterprise software, you’re probably thinking about the ERP request for proposal (RFP) process.
Today, we’re sharing expert tips for drafting an RFP that ensures you receive thorough and honest responses.
What is an RFP?
An RFP works as its name implies. It is a request for proposal, submitted by companies seeking services or products provided by others.
By issuing an RFP for selection guidance, you are asking ERP consultants to win your business. By issuing an RFP for ERP software, you are asking vendors on your shortlist to win your business.
Assuming you already have a independent consultant, the latter is likely more applicable to you.
When drafting an RFP like this, we recommend including several key points. These details give vendors critical background information about your business. Points to mention include but are not limited to:
- Details about your project scope (number of users, number of locations, applications needed, etc.)
- Outline of your enterprise strategy and digital strategy
- Description of your current business and technical environment
- Outline of your evaluation criteria
- List of your differentiating business requirements
- Description of the scenarios you want the vendor to demonstrate should you accept their RFP response
Then, you’ll request that each ERP vendor provide adequate information about their product and ERP services, with details such as:
- A company overview
- A description of their technology platform, including their server hardware and operating system options
- An outline of their ERP implementation strategy
- A description of how their ERP system fulfills each of your outlined requirements
- A total cost of ownership estimate
ERP Selection Case Study
We helped this manufacuturer select a modern ERP system to keep pace with its rapid growth.
5 Tips for Issuing an ERP Request for Proposal
1. Understand Your Digital Strategy and Project Goals
Begin by asking your team the big questions. Why exactly do you need ERP software in the first place? What pain points are you looking to solve, and what ERP benefits do you hope to gain? From there, it’s time to talk money. What is your budget for the ERP initiative?
These conversations might be difficult at first, but they’re critical to helping vendors determine which products and services are the best fit for your organization. Ultimately, answering questions like these will help you gather your key business requirements and write a more detailed RFP.
2. Consider Your Unique Business Requirements
By now, you should know the core differentiators that set your business apart. Just as these features help distinguish your organization from competitors, they will also play a role in your final ERP selection.
When drafting your RFP, make sure to include your unique business requirements and be as specific as possible to ensure vendors can provide an accurate response. Otherwise, vendors may offer any products they have that they believe will fit the low bar you’ve set. Usually, this means offering the products that will produce the most profit for themselves.
3. Specify Your Response Format and Structure
Determining if a given vendor fits your needs can be a difficult task if each proposal looks different.
To that end, it helps to specify your expected response format and structure. We recommend setting guidelines to ensure the proposals look the same and ensure all respondents provide the same amount and type of information.
In your RFP you should define:
- The physical requirements – How the proposal should look and how much information should be included
- The proposal structure – The content and order in which you want the proposal sections submitted
What happens if you don’t clarify these items? Comparing responses will be unnecessarily difficult for reviewers because none of the responses will be in the same order and none will address the same topics.
While a Q&A period can help alleviate some of the confusion, the answers often come too late to have a meaningful impact on proposal content and structure.
4. Allow for a Q&A Period
While it’s not usually the right time to define your proposal structure, a Q&A period is helpful in other respects. Held before your proposal submission deadline, this is a good time to help clear up any confusion and field vendor inquiries.
5. Ask for Information on Past Performance
Ask vendors to provide a list of references for projects they have worked on in the past five years that are similar to yours in terms of their industry and company size.
By requiring that all RFP respondents include at least three of these references, you can learn more about their industry-specific experience. This is also an ideal way to gauge their problem-solving skills and communication strategies.
RFP Before ERP: An Important Step in Software Selection
After you’ve received responses, you can analyze each vendor’s ability to meet your business requirements, conduct technical fit assessments and analyze total cost of ownership. For guidance in this process or the RFP drafting process, request a free consultation below. Our ERP consultants have experience in the entire ERP selection process.