Why RFP Management Works
You couldn’t resist the lure of the siren call to implement business intelligence (BI) software into your business. Your head is spinning with buzzwords like big data, advanced analytics, machine-generated data, risk-based security, data visualization, mobile BI, and self-service.
Your research revealed that BI offers you everything you need to improve your strategic planning process in your business. It allows you to collect, amass, and examine all the data you need to make solid, informed decisions.
You can clearly see how it will help with:
- customer profiling
- customer support
- market research
- market segmentation
- product profitability
- statistical analysis,
- distribution analysis
Your research also showed you that BI can deliver astonishing benefits like eliminating guesswork, accessing faster answers to questions on how to protect the integrity of your business, and getting reports on the key metrics you need to know.
In addition, it can improve your insights about your customers buying habits to help you to identify what products to position for backend sales, upselling and cross-selling.
Now, you’re wondering about how to find a business intelligence RFP template to move ahead.
5 Questions to Ask
With that in mind, here are five questions to ask that will point you in the right direction:
First, what are your criteria?
You can move mountains once you have enough clarity. This clarity comes from understanding how to develop a criterion around your business needs. You can’t get far with an RFP without it.
Fortunately, developing criteria is not something you need to do alone. Ask all the decision makers in your company to develop a short list of their basic needs and rank them according to level of urgency and importance.
In this process of defining your criterion, you’ll also want to decide on features like cloud deployment, data warehouse, and reporting features.
Second, how do you create a formal document?
After you’ve defined and polished up your criteria based on ideas from your key decision makers, you have to pull all this information into a formal business intelligence request for proposal to vendors.
Find a template on how to structure this RFP document then plug in your project goals, a description of your organization, and a list of your business needs.
Third, how do you choose a vendor?
Now that you’ve made your key decisions and formalized it into an RFP document, you’ll need to research vendors. Make a long list of all possible vendors, and then whittle it down to your best providers. In other words, create a short list of vendors who will be able to work with your criteria.
You can submit this document in any number of ways, but the most common way is to send an email. You can also use a software platform to manage your messages, gather responses, and sort through them.
The main thing is to make sure you don’t miss any vendors due to getting overwhelmed or disorganized.
Fourth, how do you evaluate responses?
Replies will start to trickle in from vendors. At this point you have two options:
One, you can wait for all the vendors to respond and then take action.
Two, you can analyze them as they come in.
Out of these two options, the second one has some distinct benefits. You can reply to any vendor questions while they are still fresh in your mind. In addition, by not waiting until all the results come in, you won’t develop a bias as you choose the best platform for your business.
Fifth, what should you after you’ve found a vendor?
You’ll eventually come to that sweet spot in this entire process when you have made a final decision on the best vendor.
After you contact the vendor, ask for a demonstration and proof-of-concept (POC).
If you’re satisfied with both these two factors, then work on negotiating the best price and contract. If you’re not satisfied, then go back to your list of vendors and choose the next most suitable one.
You’re in Good Company
Business Intelligence is suitable for small, medium, and large businesses and all types of industries. If you have any qualms about being an early adopter of a technology that has yet to prove it’s value, here are some words of reassurance from Christina Desmarais on how you’re in good company: “The General Mills and IBMs of the world now are using complicated—and expensive—Business Intelligence (BI) systems that can pull data together from a multitude of operating systems and generate sophisticated reports that reflect not only what has happened and what is happening, but also what will probably happen.”
Take a Methodical Approach
As a seasoned business person, you’re probably used to making fast decisions and taking action. But when it comes to getting a good RFP project off the ground, you’ll need the patience of an accountant to perform each step as methodically as you can. Since the myriad details of the project can quickly become overwhelming, it’s advisable to use software to help you manage it.