Part II in series.
Last week we talked a bit about RFPs and what their purpose was in terms of your ERP selection process. We discussed what and how information was gathered. Now, let’s take a look at how you work with vendors in this process.
Your goals and the goals of any potential vendor are diverse, but that does not mean they can’t complement one another. Both parties want to be sure they fully understand the project and what is required to bring it to a successful conclusion. Both parties are likely hoping to minimize the time and effort required to achieve a successful implementation. Both the buyer and the vendor are interested in economy.
That may seem surprising to some, but it really should not. You as a buyer are interested in getting your desired result at the lowest possible price. Your vendor is interested in getting the job done at the lowest possible cost. When this happens, under a valid pricing model, you as a customer should feel the value delivered is in parity with the price charged. The vendor should achieve a reasonable profit.
Getting Vendors Interested
Vendors have ambivalent feelings about the RFP process. On one hand if the questions are designed to expose their product in a positive light, they are happy to participate in the response. If the questions are not likely to highlight product strengths and certainly if they expose weaknesses in the vendor’s product, they are not likely to enthusiastically respond.
One way to assure their participation is to ask for their help with constructing the RFP to begin with.
Let’s say you want to gather additional information about administrative security features within your long list of ERP candidate vendors. Just pick up the phone and call the vendor’s local sales office. Tell them you are looking at several ERP systems and you need some help identifying good questions to explore this issue.
They’ll be glad to help. If you can gather input from multiple vendors, you’ll have a great basis of information from which to construct your questionnaire.
As you begin to review the suggested questions, you find implied strengths and weaknesses, features and benefits and other information that gives you some idea about who is offering something close to what you need. You may, at this point, decide to solicit more help from one or two of the vendors to build out the entire RFP/RFI.
One of the advantages of doing things this way is that it will assure the involved vendors will fill out your final RFP when the selection cycle moves into later stages. They’ve already invested in your project; they have helped build the questions involved. They will believe they have a natural advantage in the process as a whole.
After the Gold Rush
Once the RFP has been answered and your selection has been made, you should plan on letting each respondent know who you selected. Most vendors will appreciate some feedback about why they did not make the cut.
Do not underestimate the value of extending this courtesy to your vendor. Vendors need and want to know where their products or performances failed. Providing this feedback to the vendors participating will keep a good relationship in place. This can pay benefits down the road.
You owe the vendors who responded an explanation of why you made the decision you made.
Next week, we’ll talk about award process and how to score your responses.
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.