Part III and final in series
You now have your vendor responses from your initial RFP ERP request. Much of what happens now will be determined by what you did in the conceptual and execution stages of your ERP RFP. The main goal was the collection of actionable information; so hopefully, the answers you sought are there.
Do you publically declare a winner? If the process was advertised as a competition and the expected outcome was a selection decision, you should issue a brief statement regarding who won. You don’t necessarily owe a public announcement for pure information gathering solicitations. For these it would be appropriate to send a brief note to each respondent thanking them for their participation and letting them know it was helpful.
If you do announce a winner, be prepared to explain your selection to the other respondents. In these cases, as mentioned in part II, be as honest as is practical about why you went with product X versus Y and Z. You don’t need to state that product Y or Z were junk, rather just state that product X best fit your needs because of strengths in the area of whatever.
If you are in the part of the cycle where you are moving from long list to short list, the evaluation will be quite detailed. Depending on the level of detail you required in your questionnaire, you will likely want different people or teams to evaluate different portion of the ERP RFP response.
Hopefully, you have some “show stopper” requirements that will help you quickly eliminate candidates. These might include issues such as platform, geographical footprint of the vendor or some special functionality. Run a first-pass based on these criteria and then carefully evaluate the remaining responses.
Let’s say your long list request was answered by seven vendors and of the seven, you could immediately eliminate two. The remaining five will need to be closely evaluated. IT, Finance and Operations will all likely have specific interests that they want to evaluate. Each of these teams should indicate their top three choices.
Once these “votes” are collected, a selection committee meeting needs to review who got the most first, second and third place votes. These should make up your short list.
Selecting the Winner
At this point, everyone on the list should be able to do the job for you. There shouldn’t be any unacceptable candidates left. The final decision then becomes more subjective.
The first task is to get the choice down to two candidates. You can repeat any of the selection processes used earlier, but you want might just establish three criteria and see who comes in last. This might be a comparative score from the long list selection process; price is another possible factor. But, be careful here because you have not specifically requested best and final pricing, the prices quoted so far may have considerable wiggle room built in.
Once you are down to two candidates, you will want to request a Best and Final Offer to drive a better price and more favorable terms and conditions. Outside of price, the decision should focus on value and on comfort level. In reality, these two should eclipse pricing in importance.
Who are you most comfortable talking to? Who do you find most responsive? Who do you “like” the most? These qualities are very important. The implementation phase will likely include some bumps and tension; you want to be working with people that you feel a certain level of trust and confidence in.
The RFP process can do so much more that just gather objective data. The responsiveness and attitude vendors display related to RFPs will only magnify during the actual implementation phase.
Vendors that are chronically late, answer incompletely or answer deceptively are really just demonstrating how they respond to their customers in general.
Make the process work for you; it will pay dividends over the course of the implementation and beyond.
Part II: ERP RFPs: Getting Vendors Involved
Evaluating ERP vendors? Download our free whitepaper: “Making the Smart Choice: A Practical Guide to Evaluating ERP Systems and Vendors,” which provides tools to help you address the business goals of your enterprise and to mitigate the risks.