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How to Create a Request for Proposal Template for ECM

You identified your problem–too much paper, missing critical documents, compliance issues–and now you’ve determined that an enterprise content management (ECM) system is the needed solution.  You know that a smart, strategic solution can deliver more efficient and effective daily business processes…but now what?

Now is the time to find the right ECM solution and solutions integrator.  A carefully constructed Request for Proposal (RFP) can help your organization unearth your solution of choice.

Getting Started

Identify and define your needs.  If you feel that you are only scratching the surface with the needs you can identify on your own, let the potential solutions integrator know this.  They should be able to help you identify other areas of your organization that can benefit from an ECM solution in their responses.

Focus on the “Three Bs”: Budget, Backing, Building.  Your budget will  help inform your potential solutions integrator.  There is no sense in asking for the stars when you can only afford the moon.  Get backing (or buy-in) from key stakeholders, decision makers, and those others in your organization who will be positively impacted by the implementation.  Build your RFP team with the end users who will be interacting with the system on a day-to-day basis.  The input from these particular people is invaluable and will lead to an easier transition once the new system is implemented.

Crafting the RFP.  For most, this step is the most daunting.  Crafting the RFP is an equal mix of art and science.  You need to ask the right questions, in the right way, to garner the best response.  If you have access to a sample RFP tool, this is the perfect place to start.  Without fail, however, make sure to include references, information on a solution integrator’s organization, and information on research and development.

Finishing up.  It’s likely you’ll come up with a ton of questions and a laundry list of requirements.  Just be mindful of getting lost in the weeds.  There is a point in which you can ask for too much detail.  Work together with the solutions integrator to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

Send it out.  We recommend three to five solutions integrators; give them at least three weeks to respond.

Evaluate the responses.  Review the answers, make sure there is no grey area, and invite the top two to three finalists to demonstrate their abilities.

When comfortable, make a decision.  It is okay to ask more questions and need more time.  Visit the company headquarters and have them visit your company as well.  Get to know the people behind the company, and make sure you get comfortable before you make the purchase.

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