How to Find the Best RFP Management Software

Ah RFP software shopping. You may be on the issuing side, sending out RFPs. Or you may be on the responding side. But either way, how do you know which particular system is right for you? What are the key questions should you be asking in demos? Don't worry, we've got you covered. 

What's in this post (click to jump straight to that section) 


RFP System Reviews Red Flags

If you're interested in a given RFP management system, always, always read 3rd party reviews. Specifically, a review platform where the provider can't delete the negative reviews).

You'll also want to pay special attention to what customers say about:

Training -- additional costs, ease of onboarding 
Implementation time -- some RFP systems take hours, some months
Team management -- how can you communicate and track tasks internally? 
Support responsiveness -- how fast can you expect a response? 
Pricing model -- do you have to pay per seat? Contract length, etc.
Data hosting -- where does your data eventually go and how safe is it?  

Find out why we have a 4.5-star rating 

Read Our Capterra Reviews


 

Training & Implementation: Training & implementation: one big hesitancy with new software is fear of how hard it will be to learn. Depending on the RFP platform, set up can take anywhere from a few hours to weeks, even months. 

Training time frame is especially important if you're trying to get a system in place for specific RFP project. If you're on a tight deadline, the ease of onboarding may make or break your project productivity. 

Obviously, it will vary across organizations. We have clients who get up and running anywhere within a couple of hours to a full weekend. But at least it will give you a ballpark of what to expect. 
 
So, as you prospect and attend demos, ask specifics about the implementation process. Then check the 3rd party customer reviews to make sure the promises correspond to what clients actually experienceCapterra is a good place to start.

Find out exactly how you will get previous RFPs and/or Proposals into the system? How long does it take? Is there particular format or template you have to use. 

Ask if there are additional training costs associated with onboarding? How many check-in points will you get? How much time? Will you have a dedicated account or support rep? 


 

Team management: one of the other big RFP system variables is how many team management features you get
 
These features are critical. Especially if you have multiple stakeholders involved in the process. Don't just think about Proposal and/or RFP writers. Remember you'll likely need notes from consultants, or SMEs (Subject Matter Experts). As well as legal or technical experts. Not to mention any executives or managers who would like to view the proposal/RFP, or see the progress of completion
 
You'll also want to find out how easy is it to create a user? And what the permissioning levels look like like for users. Can do you set "view only" levels, give them access to some data/content and not others, etc. 
 
How do you set writing and/or evaluation tasks and reminders? 



Support responsiveness:
 is a HUGE factor. Let's be honest, when it comes to software something will inevitable go wrong. Or at the very least at some point you'll need a question answered. And when it comes to RFPs getting a fix or answer fast is even more urgent because we're usually on a strict deadline. 

So when you read reviews look for clients say about support. How fast do they get responses?

Providers should also have a support page on their website (here's ours) explaining how their support works. They may also cite how much up-time and down-time (how often the application has crashed) over the past year. Up-time / down-time will give you an idea of what kind of reliability you can expect.

Support_Performance_-_Response_time.png

Ask if there will be on-going support or just help at the beginning? Will you have a dedicated support person and/or account manager? What hours is support available? Only during business hours or 24/7? Will your support provider be domestic? Could there possible a language barrier? 

Find out how many channels there are for getting support? Phone line, email, live chat, FAQ Database (for example, ours looks like this)



Pricing:
 will typically have several components to consider. Find out if the provider's model is based on pricing per RFP/proposal event? You'll also want to find out how many users you're allowed and how pricing for those users works -- unlimited, license per seat, tiered levels/ranges, etc. 

Ask about contract duration options, paying per month vs. annual and if there are certain discounts for paying more upfront. 



Data hosting:
 you'll want to find out exactly where your data will "live." In other words, how it will be stored long term. Often, the RFP system provider is not the final data-host. 

You want to make sure that the the data is effectively encrypted and housed by a reputable provider. For instance, RFP365 uses Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides hosting for big brands like NASA, Netflix, and Adobe. 

If you're intimidated by switching to SaaS (Software As Service) this webinar is a great place to start. Having your service hosted and maintained off-site is often much easier and can actually be safer than hardware you own. It's important to understand your options. Especially considering the majority of options on the market are now off-premise.

 

Questions for Proposal Management Software

If you're looking for proposal management softwarebelow are some additional questions you'll want to ask as you demo

For a more thorough overview, check out his eBook on how Proposal Management Software works and what to look for. 

What is Proposal Management Software Ebook

The quick notes are that you'll likely have two big priorities you'll want to dig deep on.#1. How to effectively manage content and #2. How to reuse past content. 

The whole point of good proposal software is to make sure you're using your best responses consistently. When you read provider's case studies and testimonies (here's ours) look for how clients quantify their time-saving and ROI. 

Ask about how to assign and tracks tasks. Is it easy to divvy up sections? How do you track completion progress? Are their dashboards and reports? What do they look like? 

How easy is it to search previous content? How are results ranked? Can you see the history for each response including when it was written, who wrote it, and when it was last changed? Can you revert to a previous version if you don't like the changes? 

Can you partition your Knowledge Base according to access level, product line, and/or industry? 

How do you check what's still left to do? How do you find out if content is out of date? 

Once you've narrowed down your favorites, ask for a free trial of your top candidates. That way you can see up close how they compare and how easy they are to use

 

Questions for Issuing RFP Software

If you're looking for RFP software to help you send out RFPs to vendors and suppliers, you'll have your own unique questions to ask. Some will be more standard, some more surprising

For a thorough overview of what to look for, check out this eBook. While it's written with brokers & consultants in mind, the tips apply to everyone looking for RFP software. 

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Specifics you'll want to dig into include how can you compare responses from all your vendors? Can you compare both across whole sections and by individual questions? 

Ask about how can you message and communicate with vendors? How will you negotiate and ask clarifying questions? 

How will you assign and track evaluator tasks? 

What kind of historic information will be available? Can you see exactly who you invited to each RFP? How they responded? How they were scored? And why the winner was chosen

How will you monitor vendor's proposal progress? What easy it for them to quickly the system to submit their responses? 

Find out how you track supplier information? Can you make vendor profiles? How easy is it to short-list? How do you track how their offering changes over time? Pricing, etc.? 

Want to ask us these questions? Contact us here

We hope you found these suggestions helpful. And that you feel a bit more equipped to demo find the best RFP management software for your needs.