How to Choose an RFP Management System

Do you have traumatic memories of buying a new car? Most people do. Not only do we have to contend with the hungry sales reps stalking us around the car lot until we take a test drive, cars have also become advanced computers! We have to compare technology features like cameras, parking sensors, and lane detectors.

Choosing an RFP Management System can feel the same way, especially if it’s your first time choosing one. Even if you have a system in place, the market has rapidly evolved over the past ten—and even five—years. Here’s how to get started.

Ask yourself the tough questions

You might be surprised to learn that features aren’t the first thing you should think about. All too often, companies buy complex systems and then end up not fully using them. Take some time to ask yourself hard questions like:

  • How much time do you have to learn the tool and how quickly do you learn other technologies?
  • What kind of support will you need?
  • Do you have time to learn new features as they’re released?

Questions like these help you evaluate a system with a realistic perspective.

Assess your environment and identify must-have features

RFP management Software as a Service (SaaS) companies offer a wide variety of features and have different strengths. Use the following guidelines and questions to research what benefits you most in your selection:

  • Format: Start with format as there are some clear capability differences. Are all your RFPs in Microsoft Word? Crunching through complex, multi-tab, multi-section Excel spreadsheets everyday? Do everything in PowerPoint? Look at your response volumes and identify which format is most important to you and look for a vendor that specializes in that format.
  • Global: Is your company global or going global soon? Then storing content in foreign languages and using automated translation services within the platform are essential. While embedded auto translation services are time-saving, know that English language sophistication means you’ll always need a second validation pass with a live person. You’ll also need to carefully evaluate support options, ensuring local support throughout the globe for your team.
  • Business units: How many business units do you have that will want to use the tool separately? Do they want to share content? The more complex your user structures are, the more complexity you’ll need in a platform architecture.
  • Integrations: What kind of integrations will you need from an RFP management system, such as CRM systems or office productivity like Teams and Slack?
  • Partners: How often do you work with external partners during RFP responses? If it’s a lot, then a platform that provides guest access will be key to your success.

Arm yourself with a prioritized must-have list and check items off as you go, so you’ll be happy with your choice.

Support makes all the difference

Whether you’re a veteran platform manager or a newcomer, ask detailed support questions such as:

  • What’s included in the support package?
  • Is there a named account manager to call during business hours? How many accounts are they handling? How often will we meet?
  • How many people are on your Help Desk? What time zones are they in? What’s your average ticket response time?

Approaching your next RFP management system procurement with these key points in mind will help your process go smoother. And, bonus, the sales reps are remote and can’t chase you around a parking lot!