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Getting Started

RFP Samples and Templates: Kick Starting Your RFP Process
While many organizations may have a well-defined Request for Proposal (RFP) process in place, there are whole series of steps that happen in an organization prior to reaching a decision to issue an RFP. Typically, it all starts with a re-occurring need or "pain" felt by a group of individuals within an organization in the way they work, or in many cases, they way their competitors gain a competitive edge by employing the right technology to out maneuver competing suppliers. It's natural for companies to find ways to "lighten the load" and to increase their market position. The fact is the multi-billion dollar enterprise software industry is built on this premise and has built many empires of its own by peddling a more efficient and affordable way to build widgets.

Once the "business pain" is confirmed by the organization, usually an individual or a team of stakeholders are tasked with the job to find a prescription to the diagnosed problem. Although at this point an organization can be miles away from the RFP process, an evaluation is initiated with an informal research of the available options in the marketplace. So where does it begin? For most people, it starts with Google. The internet is the simplest and quickest way to begin your search for your silver bullet. The challenge with most enterprise issues is that their level of complexity tends to be high and they can be potentially sending buyers on a wild goose chase. Many organizations are looking for technology to solve multi-layered business problems that need to appease diverse stakeholders. Consequently, the evaluation team needs to be focused in their research by asking the right questions to the right suppliers to meet their unique needs.

With this in mind, the most effective software evaluation and selection begins with getting your hands on the most relevant information a soon as possible. One of the best places to start is to explore what others in your position have done in the past. Reviewing sample RFP documents and templates used in the past can help you organize your approach, communications strategy, and decision making process when speaking to the software vendor community.

RFP Sample Documents: Leveraging Past Successes to Build a Solid Software Evaluation Strategy

Request for Proposal (RFP) sample documents include a whole host of communication material to effectively relay your message to the vendor community. Like most industries, the enterprise software space has its own language in communicating its value propostion to you (the prospective customer). Although software companies seek to speak the language of the customers they serve, there often can be a disconnect between a buyers requirements and a vendors interpretation of the proposed requirements. Reviewing RFP samples utilized in a similar scenario are an excellent source in building the right communication strategy in presenting your proposed problem(s) to the vendor community. Some of the RFP Sample documents used by organizations to effectively communicate include:

  • RFI Format Documents
  • RFP Format Documents
  • RFQ Format Documents
  • Letters of intent
  • Cover letters
  • No-bid letters
  • Rejection letters
  • Protest letters
  • Letters to decline a proposal
  • Contract award letters

It should be noted, that RFP sample documents are an excellent blueprint on "how" to communicate to prospective suppliers, but will not necessarily address "what" (the industry specific requirements) needs to be communicated to the vendor community.

RFP Templates: What you Need to Ask a Software Vendor to Avoid a Wild Goose Chase
Although it is true that RFP samples can be a great starting point to build a communication strategy, without detailing the actual requirements that need to be addressed in a clear and concise language understood by suppliers that effort can be futile. If RFP samples can help build your blueprint to kick start your RFP Process, RFP templates can serve as the architect guiding the evaluation project at hand. Many RFP templates are built on years of experience employed in many evaluation projects and have been refined to effectively communicate your requirements as well as include other elements that your organization may have not considered.

The reality is, the enterprise software world markets complex products solving complex problems. With this complexity come thousands of line items to consider ranging from business requirements and technology challenges to market viability and product limitations. Building an RFP template is a lengthy process that requires immense amount of research.

Before Starting the RFP Process Do Your Research
The RFP Process should not be taken lightly. It needs to be an integral part of your software evaluation and selection project. Whether you decide to implement your RFP strategy on your own or build a strategy based on best practices found in the many RFP sample documents and templates available it is essential to be thorough. It is critical to do your research before and build a solid communication strategy to effectively speak to the complex enterprise software world and ensure that all the right questions and elements are part of your process. After all, the right decision depends on it.