RFP Management software is undeniably useful for any company that uses email, spreadsheets or printed packets of paper to handle their procurement processes. However, not all RFP management solutions are created equal, and these are the 9 must-have features you should consider before purchasing an RFP management solution.
Sourcing can be very messy, and the specific collaboration features of your RFP management platform can be the difference between using the software as a tool, and having the software become an integral and valuable part of your procurement team. Must-have collaboration features include:
Team Notifications —As a team leader in purchasing, you need to know when your team needs input, and when external stakeholders need more information. Every minute that a project is on hold because the team doesn’t know what to do next is another minute of expense that could be saved. The procurement team should be spending as little time as possible updating stakeholders on the state of their RFPs. Team notifications and overall transparency in your RFP solution allows all stakeholders to easily see where the process stands, who on your team is responsible for specific issues, how vendors compare to each other, what the final decision is, and what criteria were used to make that decision.
Knowledge Sharing —Having an easy way to discover who has the correct knowledge for a certain project, and then applying it in a way that makes sense should be a priority for any RFP library management system.
Task Assignment — Knowing what your team is doing at any given time is not useful unless your team knows what their goals, path, and outcomes should be for any part of your purchasing process. The ability to assign tasks lets you stay on top of your team, potential stakeholders, and your own schedule.
Alerts — If a problem exists that needs immediate attention, you want to know about it… well, immediately. Alerts enable the immediate sharing of time-sensitive information such as overdue tasks, vendor responses, and changes in timelines. Having automated alerts keep individual contributors organized with less effort on the part of the manager.
Collaborative Request Building — Don’t frustrate potential vendor partners (not to mention your own colleagues!) with an RFP that differs from what your stakeholders really want.. By enabling your team and external stakeholders to take part in building requests, you eliminate confusion between your team and the vendors, as well as limiting the disconnects between the purchasing team and external stakeholders.
Collaborative Response Scoring — Some RFPs can be as dense as a dictionary, so it makes sense to split up the response scoring across your team. The ability to have collaborative response scoring becomes even more valuable with people who are experts in their respective scoring section.
Vendor Tracking — One must-have feature for RFP management solutions is vendor tracking. Vendor tracking allows you to see where every vendor is in their response process. Think of this feature as a timeline for every vendor that may respond. Are they in the middle of responding, or have they not even looked at the request?
Seamless Response Collation — If you’re going to be comparing apples-to-apples, it helps to be able to see the apples side-by-side. Seamless response collation allows teams to rapidly compare responses by showing responses side-by-side with all relevant attachments and supporting materials. If you can’t compare responses to each other, then your RFP management solution isn’t working hard enough on saving you time.
Permissions and Transparency — Purchases don’t just involve the procurement department. After all, the department isn’t purchasing for itself. Stakeholders exist across the company, and they all need to be able to contribute to the purchase process to get the best outcome. At the same time, having every person contribute to a process creates an unmanageable mess. Stakeholders need clearly defined roles and guidelines for their contribution. Whether that is supporting background research, developing criteria, scoring vendor responses, or approving the final decision, RFP management software should enable the person in charge of the process to clearly define who is responsible for what and the permissions they have for each RFP.
Breaking old habits takes strong will and knowledge of the pain of your current process. Your current procedures might be clunky, but at least they’re familiar.
However, keeping a painful process with too many people involved could be costing your company significantly more than you think. Changing seems risky, and purchasing is all about reducing risk. But a good RFP management solution adapts easily to your workflow, it doesn’t force you to adapt to it. RFP management software is not a defined process, but rather a tool that can be applied to current company strategies and timelines. The right RFP management solution will make intuitive sense to stakeholders across the organization, even those who rarely touch the purchasing process. Handholding takes time, and the procurement department shouldn’t have to spend more time guiding stakeholders through new RFP management software than they used to spend corralling them over email.
When evaluating RFP management solution features, you should ask yourself these questions in this order:
- Will this feature help us achieve a better outcome in terms of quality or price?
- If not, will it help us save time?
- If not, will it make our process more transparent and repeatable?
If the core features of the RFP management software that you are looking at does not pass at least one of these tests, then you should reevaluate its potential as a true solution.
Vendorful’s RFP management solution has all of the must-have features that procurement teams need because our team has been in your shoes. Every one of our features will pass those evaluation questions without a second thought, and even the most out-of-touch stakeholder in your organization will be able to contribute to your RFPs without additional hand-holding. If you are interested in addressing the pitfalls of your purchasing process, and you are looking for a solution, schedule a demo of our vendor management services.