The RFP is a chance to customize the proposal to your specific needs. RFPs available online or in hard copy can often be too vague and can leave out valuable information that is necessary in choosing the right ERP system. In general, RFPs need to be concise and should cover the requirements that would make the product successful for you. It is best to use the RFP as a chance to show what you need in an ERP system and how the offering company can customize its product for the best and most efficient outcome. The objectives as well as detailed product descriptions need to be clear so that both parties can agree that what was delivered met the requested requirements.
What should be included in the ERP RFP?
The RFP is a request for a tendered offer. The deliverable coming out of the RFP should be a firm proposal complete with pricing, statements of work, detailed product descriptions, formal responses to specific special needs included in the RFP as well as performance metrics so both parties can agree that what was delivered met the requirements specified in the request.
There are numerous RFP outlines and formats available either online or in hardcopy. Don’t just take one of these and put your corporate logo on the cover. Rather, look over several samples and consider your own needs. Develop your own RFP format that is reflective of your organizational needs.
A typical format or outline would include
- A concise statement– Describes what need you are asking vendors to respond to. Don’t just say “an RFP for an ERP system,” be more specific. For example, “… an ERP system for a process-oriented, multiple-plant manufacturing environment operating in 20 countries with language localization for each.”
- Vendor profile – Ask the responding vendor to supply information about their company.
- General requirements – Provide more specifics on what your requirements are as far as a successful implementation.
- Specific requirements and response – In this section describe the specific functionalities that are required of the winning solution.
- Desirable attributes and response – List anything that would be nice to have but not required for a successful system.
- Implementation/education requirements and response – ERP systems are not plug-n-play, batteries-included products. A detailed implementation plan is probably the most critical aspect of your vendor’s submission.
- Performance description and response – What will constitute a desirable outcome, or how will you measure success in terms of your implementation? This might include a “go live” date, module installation milestone dates, education progress milestones, delivery of customized code deadlines and similar criteria.
- Licensing details – Server based, seat based, measured usage, etc. Any limitations on usage should be clearly identified in this section along with consequences if those limitations are exceeded.
- Pricing details – Request a full breakdown of prices and costs for years one through five.
- References – Request contact names, phone numbers and permission to contact the individuals listed.
- Final details – What is your submission deadline, and RFP format requirements? Will you accept phone call inquiries related to the RFP? Any other requirements you might have. You will also want to clearly state what your intentions are in terms of choosing a “winner.” Will you notify all respondents by mail or will there be an award meeting? Make it clear that you are retaining the right to choose any or none of the responses based on your own judgment.
The most effective RFPs are clear requests of your needs and what will work best for you. RFPs give the opportunity for the ERP vendor to work with you to get a better understanding of the most effective software they can offer. The more details in the RFP the greater the chance of finding the right software to meet those needs. When an RFP is created with the upmost accuracy and detail, a winning ERP system will be an easy choice.
This is an edited excerpt of “RFI, RFQ and RFP—The Three R’s of Buying a New ERP System.” To read the full paper, click here.