How to write an offer request for the purchase of a software, with template | Technological goal

Too many companies ask for complex information or create poorly written RFPs. That’s why software purchasing teams need to understand best practices.

An RFP can improve the software buying experience for both software buying teams and vendors. The important document tells vendors the key information they need to provide to software purchasing teams. And it provides purchasing teams with a common reference to make purchases and can also help reduce software procurement costs.

A good RFP is not a given.

The buying team understands that sellers have to spend time-consuming work gathering the information needed for shipping. At that point, the purchasing team should provide a clear and straightforward RFP template that avoids repeating information in different sections or including unnecessary information about the specific software purchase. The purchasing team should also keep suppliers informed of all requested changes. For example, the purchasing team should forward any adjustments to dates, requirements, or additions that clarify certain points in the previous version of the RFP to the IT vendor.

As an overview, the RFP should include key dates, contact information, and any additional materials that help vendors immediately determine if they can fulfill the request. This step reduces the time spent acquiring critical information over months of discussions.

Representatives from all major stakeholder groups should review the RFP and all supporting documentation for accuracy prior to release.

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Here are some ideas on what to include in an effective software purchase RFP, along with a downloadable RFP template with additional guidance. Organizations can use the free download as a starting point for a custom template.

Overview of common RFP sections

A software purchase RFP may contain the following sections to provide IT vendors with the required information:

  1. Title page. The first page of the RFP should include the legal name of the company, the name of the project, the version number of the document, the date of publication, and anything else that might be useful, such as the document number or the name of the person who published the document.
  2. Change log. Following the title page, a change log can highlight major revisions to the RFP. This step also simplifies the document review process as the file goes through various revisions.
  3. Request for quotation overview. This section explains the purpose of the RFP in a paragraph or two. Typical highlights include the type of software, such as an ERP system, and a high-level explanation of the functionality desired by the organization.
  4. Company description. Use this step to provide a summary of the company, especially in areas that are important to salespeople. This category can include the number of employees, the industry and the locations where the employees work. This last point is crucial when employees work in multiple countries as different data retention and privacy laws may come into play. The overview can include information such as the company’s mission, vision, values, strategic direction, and a detailed breakdown of all data relevant to the RFP. Relevant data may include a breakdown of employees by location, employment type, and other employee data if the RFP is related to HR software.
  5. Project requirements. Describe the project in this section, including what drives the need for new software, a high-level list or detailed spreadsheet with requirements, expected project phases, proposed schedule, and other information to help suppliers understand the scope of the project.
  6. Rules, requirements and proposal templates. Here, the software purchasing team explains to IT vendors what they need to consider when putting together an RFP response. This part should outline when and how to submit the proposal, what information to include, key dates, maximum page count, how vendors should ask questions, and how the purchasing team responds. The RFP can specify mandatory information that IT vendors must include in their proposal, such as a product roadmap, pricing, and how they meet requirements.

    The software purchasing team can specify the document formats that suppliers should use when submitting responses, such as PDF format or the use of a certain font size. For example, the supplier can compile and send a pre-formatted spreadsheet with a list of requirements. The purchasing team can provide a spreadsheet with a list of requirements and request suppliers to return the completed spreadsheet in the format provided.

    This is also the section that can include any legal information. For example, there might be a note stating that the buying team can change the RFP at their discretion by a certain date. There may be rules regarding vendors modifying submissions or withdrawing from the process if the buying team goes ahead with those changes, including the date until this could happen, and rules regarding how the supplier can modify the shipment or withdrawing from the process .

    IT vendor templates may be appended to rather than incorporated into the RFP. This step allows the RFP to focus on the content of the project. For example, purchasing teams can offer a form that suppliers must complete to confirm their interest in the bidding process.

  7. Evaluation process. In this section, the RFP outlines the evaluation process for proposals, such as how each section awards points, who is on the evaluation committee, and the vendor selection process to advance to the next round, such as demos from I live.

    A table with a breakdown of points by section can help guide salespeople to engage in the sections with the most points. Raters can use the table to standardize their reviews.

  8. Contract negotiations. This outlines general guidelines regarding contract negotiations and what happens if there is no deal. The wording here may reinforce that the vendor-company agreement isn’t final until a contract is signed, highlighting that winning the RFP process isn’t the final step.

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