Mastering the art of the RFP is an essential skill for almost all HR professionals. It's the foundation in which we use to decide which service or product we are going to put into place for our employees or our business. Picking the wrong one can bring you to the brink of insanity, picking the right one and your team will be singing your praises and throwing roses at your feet (ok, not really, but they will appreciate the time you put in to help find the perfect vendor partner).
Here are five tricks to help you through this process:
KEEP IT SHORT!
You know you want to ask every question that you've ever thought of around how that service works in your RFP. Don't! Remember in the end, you are the one that's going to need to read through it all and figure out who you do or do not want to move forward with. Keeping your questions to a maximum of 20 most important (10 if you can do it), will keep you from spending hours of reading. Additionally, if possible, multiple choice is best as it's less for you to read, straight forward answers from the vendors - win/win!
If you work for an organization that has a purchasing or procurement group, get them involved! These folks want to help you, and you need them. Negotiation is tough, and these experts can help you even if it's just by playing the ˜bad guy". Remember, at the end of the RFP, you still need to work with the vendor.
Also, this team has great tools to help make your life simple. They can manage the whole RFP process - setting deadline, sending reminders, collecting electronic bids and the collateral that vendors will ultimately send, all on your behalf.
WHICH VENDORS TO SEND IT TO?
Age old questions that faces HR professionals, there are hundreds of vendors that all do what is needed, for the most part, who are the best ones? In the past you would call your friends and your consultants for advice, now you can log into HR Company Store and search thousands of vendors to find the ones that most align with what you need. And you can read reviews and see how other HR Professionals rate their services (all for free).
Use this tool in conjunction with your consultant/broker. Find a few vendors that seem to be a good fit for you, then take your list and talk with your consultant/broker about your choices, and together you can decide who are the best vendors to receive your RFP.
TALK TO YOUR VENDORS
Schedule a call for all your vendors to attend before you even start putting together the RFP. Tell them what you need, and what your expectations are of them if they were to be awarded the business. If it's an area you aren't 100% comfortable with, this is a great time to ask them to supply you with 10 of the best RFP questions they've ever received. This will give you a great start on your top 20 questions.
Allow the vendors to ask questions. While they are all on the one phone call, everyone can hear the answer and your direction, in the end making your life simpler.
This is where you can get into the nitty gritty of all the questions. Create yourself a scorecard of all those questions you wanted to put in the RFP. Ask them in the Finalist Meetings and take notes. After each meeting recap them for the vendor and ask they approve what your understanding of their answers..
In the end, RFP's are all about picking the best fit for you and your company. Taking the time to the necessary pre-work and streamlining your process will save you from a lot of sleepless nights.