“All the vendors for our ERP replacement want to come out and do a site visit before they respond to the RFP or certainly before they do a demo!” Have you heard this before? Some vendors won’t even do a demo unless they get a site visit and that could ultimately be the vendor of choice. It is true, a well-run site visit can be a tremendous value to a vendor but has little to no value for you, the customer. So how do you make the site visit mutually beneficial?
Whether you’re using an RFP or not, when scheduling a site visit with a vendor, you, the customer, has to be well prepared. Remember, an RFP is notoriously a “black and white” document that forces vendors/implementers into “yes or no” answers. Yes, you can try to be cute and tricky and add; “work-around, report writer, export to tool, next release, etc.” but the bottom line is, the software either does what you need and want or it doesn’t. So if used properly, the RFP becomes a tool to keep the conversations on track and focused to critical business processes.
Now the RFP becomes a tool NOT to ask, does your system do this, but HOW does your system do this? And focusing on the uniqueness’s of the business, the site visit and RFP review can be easily finished in short order as opposed to day’s long event. The vendor of course wants the longer version because “it’s an opportunity to sell” which is what they do for a living while you on the other hand, have a real job that is being ignored. So use the RFP to keep the conversation focused, track the processes and evaluate the responses. That’s beneficial to you and will save you time in the demonstrations and by eliminating vendors earlier.
So how do you get the same result without an RFP? Same answer, be prepared. If you prepare properly, using the same process flow documents and sample paperwork, those documents can provide the same in depth analysis with or without an RFP. It takes practice and experience, but it is quite effective and can save a tremendous amount of time and money.
How do you ensure something won’t be missed? You don’t. Absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, something will be missed–RFP or not. Whether the RFP is 100 pages or 1,000 pages, something will be missed. So next time, let’s talk about “covering our bases” during the process. This will avoid the cover your – (CYA) later.