E-Commerce Link: Shop Around
Write the RFP
The introductory section of your RFP should provide:
1) General information regarding the RFP, company contacts and a confidentiality statement. You and/or the vendors selected may require a mutual non-disclosure agreement be signed prior to any information exchange.
2) An executive summary that provides company background and outlines your business needs and requirements. Here you might summarize anticipated e-mail volume, frequency of campaigns and features required.
3) RFP response guidelines for vendors. It’s in your best interest to structure the document so that each vendor uses your format to respond. This allows you to easily and objectively compare vendors. Most questions should require a short-form answer such as: “comply,” “do not comply,” or “not applicable,” with room allowed for a short explanation. On key questions you can solicit “long-form” answers, screen shots of the interface or technology documentation. Explain that a non-response to a question indicates the vendor is unable to comply with or meet the requirement.
4) Process timing. Explain when responses are due, when “finalists” will be brought in for presentations, and when the final decision will be made.
5) Any specific evaluation criteria you will use.
6) A vendor profile form with an organization overview (including size, financial stability and experience), number of employees, staffing in critical departments, how the company would assist in implementation, the ongoing support you would expect, and applicable client references.
The body of the RFP contains specific questions based on your requirements. Be as focused as possible since a response requires considerable effort on the part of the vendor, and a fair evaluation necessitates your review of all answers. Don’t ask hundreds of questions. Here are some areas to include:
1) Technology: Inquire about platform and network architecture, capacity and scalability, security, ease of installation and use, deliverability (ISP relationships, filtering and blocking), bounce handling, system availability, and administrative tools.