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Getting to the Right Diagnosis & Treatment– Optimizing the RFP Process, Part 2

So by now you’ve diagnosed the issue and selected three prospective vendors to continue researching in order to find your cure. Since these vendors already demonstrated their ability to meet your requirements based on the RFI document, now you need to take this a step further and have each vendor demo their solution. However, instead of having the vendor conduct a standard presentation, it is best to create scripts that reflect your potential future state scenarios, focusing on the requirements that were deemed as high and medium priorities. Have a core team of SMEs develop the scripts and scoring sheets to appraise each demo. Make sure the scoring sheet includes the summary evaluation question, “Would you select this vendor (please provide details)?”

Once developed, send the script to vendors with a follow up appointment on the calendar for two weeks later. Each demo should be scheduled for at least two hours, but can be longer based on the amount of scripts developed. Key users and stakeholders should join in the vendor demo – however, ensure participants understand your current process and future state goals ahead of time. In addition to the demo, you may want to schedule a separate technology/security session with TA and IT leadership to review security and operational compliance, however this is optional.

Vendor demos can be completed onsite or virtually depending on the location of the participants. While there may be time for questions and answers, the goal is to complete all of the scripts in order. Make certain that vendors follow the script in order to be properly evaluated. Participants should complete their evaluation forms directly following each demo and submit for tabulation of results. If necessary, you can also include weights for scoring. For any remaining open issues, contact the vendor for clarifications, sometimes a follow up may be necessary.

With the demos complete, it’s time to review each, including the answer to that important summary evaluation question: “Would you select this vendor (please provide details)?” This portion of the process can be very analytical, and no two vendors are the same so keep the following in mind:

  1. Is this someone that will be a strong partner?
  2. Does this vendor have a stable financial base?
  3. What is the vendor’s product landscape for the future?
  4. What is the vendor’s pricing model?

Ultimately, select a vendor that can deliver on your specific business requirements and priorities and cure what ails your organizations. This leads to the fun part, contract negotiations, which may be handled by others. Regardless, it is important to address specific items in the contract. The most obvious being pricing and length of contract though you should also take into consideration your organization’s projected growth and any other HR technology initiatives as well as custom development that may be useful for future clients. In addition, it is critical that the vendor provide a timeline for when developments will be completed plus penalties if these are not delivered on time. Implementation of the product is more than just an estimate of time – it needs to be thoughtful and purposeful.

As part of contract negotiations, a project plan should include tasks to be performed by both vendor and the organization, including names of resources, and a realistic time frame for each. Another critical component will be the SLA (service level agreement), this document will cover information about down times and remedies for potential issues. If you are planning data migrations, be careful to start that work sooner to account for extra time needed during testing. You can include these high level details in the contract and the specifics about ongoing support for once the project is complete. And finally, remember that it may take time for your implementation to address the issues that brought you on this journey. Technology is not the only solution; it must also be incorporated into processes and people – some of these moves faster than others and you may need to adjust your remedies along the way.

There you have it – your treatment plan: completed RFPs, demo scripts and evaluations, and now, a contract. Together this will serve as the prescription a vendor provides to get your Talent Acquisition department healthy and ready for future state, all important parts of your medical record.