At many firms, RFPs are overlooked opportunities. These documents give companies the chance to tell vendors what they want out of an ERP system. It’s also the time for businesses to share what their expectations of the vendor are. After all, how can you expect a vendor to do something if you never share that information?
Read on to learn about what you should reasonably expect from your vendors when writing your RFP and why those expectations are important.
What’s Your Timeframe? What’s Theirs?
You don’t want to spend ages finding an ERP system. Use your RFP as a way to weed out vendors that can’t operate on your timeframe.
As part of the RFP process, you can request a detailed schedule from the vendor about its availability at each stage of the project, including the availability of the personnel the vendor would be providing. While it’s important to remember that it will take time for the vendor to put together such a schedule, you want to set a deadline as to when it should submit the schedule so that the process doesn’t drag on.
Who Are Their References?
It’s common to ask potential employees for references. Asking your potential ERP system vendors to provide references serves the same purpose; you learn whether the client was satisfied with the vendor’s performance and what issues came up, if any.
Here’s what you should look for in references: they are in the same industry, the implementation was fairly recent (within the past 18 months is a good guideline), and how well the project went. That will tell you whether the vendor will be a good fit.
Who Will Work on This Project?
An ERP system is a significant investment, so you want to know that the people working on this project are top notch. Ask the vendor how many people will work on this implementation and what their backgrounds are.
This is also the time to ask how long it will take these people to finish the job and what their hourly rates are. The vendor’s answers inform your schedule and your budget.
What’s Your Vendor’s Financial Future Look Like?
Let’s go back to the previous paragraph for a moment to emphasize the investment aspect of buying a new ERP system. If you’re going to make such an investment, you want your vendor to be around for the long haul.
Don’t be shy about asking for financial results, client acquisition rates, or product investment levels for the past five years. You don’t want to buy an ERP system only to find out your vendor has gone out of business two months later.
The relationship you have with your ERP vendor will be one that should last beyond the implementation. You want to choose the right vendor for your needs, so make sure that the RFP spells out what you expect from the vendor so you’re not both disappointed.