The standard RFP (Request for Proposal) project can appear complicated to manage for even the most seasoned of contact center veterans. Years of experience as a consultant and expert have taught me that having a well-planned system in place is essential to making RFP management seamless, effective, and highly productive. Here is my step-by-step guide:

1. Identify the Key People

The very first thing you want to do is to identify the key people you want to have on your team to develop and manage the RFP process. Your key people include the person who will actually manage the RFP process end-to-end as well as the leaders of the individual business units for whom you will be going through the RFP process.

The PM (Project Manager) is responsible for keeping track of all the deliverables during the process and ensuring everything is on target. Leaders of the individual units need to be on hand to support the development of the RFP requirements as well as the shortlisting of potential vendors.

2. Define Your Expectations

The next step is to define your expectations in terms of core deliverables. This is also the time to define your budgets, timelines, and how you will measure performance and the impact on your business. For newer businesses, it may be worthwhile to send an RFI and an RFQ beforehand as part of an information-gathering exercise to help you further define parameters for selection.

An RFI (Request for Information) is a proposal sent out to a broader spectrum of the market to understand the capabilities and services of the respective vendors. It is usually a less detailed overview of the vendors’ strengths and core offerings. An RFQ (Request for Quotation), is a requisition for pricing information and helps you manage your budgetary spend in a more calculated and measured manner.

3. Scouting Vendors

When scouting vendors, develop a list of vendors sourced through past experience, collaboration with other team members, online research, offline industry resources, as well as recommendations from other businesses. It is important to keep your list to a manageable size and number.

Unless you have a solid understanding of the market, or are confident about being able to source high-quality vendors, it is worthwhile to consider an outside consultant who specializes in this specific area. Consultants will be able to narrow down the pool for you, in line with your expectations, reducing the overall effort and time required for this initial but vital part of the RFP process.

4. Develop Your RFP

Once you have a list of potential vendors and an overview of your requirements, it’s time to start fleshing out your RFP. The first phase of your RFP involves brainstorming questions that you want prospective vendors to answer.

A mix of open-ended questions and yes/no type of questions will enable you to get a lot more detail from vendors. Open-ended questions have to be specific in that the vendors need to provide responses that are quantifiable and exacting.

The questions should also enable you to have a measured way of lining up vendors against each other and qualitatively assessing strengths and weaknesses. Have meetings with your PM and individual business unit leaders to understand the types of questions they want to have answered. Your aim is to consolidate everything into a cohesive questionnaire.

Factor a pricing matrix into your questionnaire based on the services you require so that you can compare and contrast different suppliers. Allow vendors to provide custom pricing. However, this is one area of your RFP that can throw a wrench in the works unless you lay out what your expectations and preferences are at the outset.

CH Consulting Group provides unparalleled expertise in the Contact Center and Customer Experience (CX) verticals. We have a nationwide team of industry veterans that can assist you to achieve exponential growth, manage change, and generate profit. For a comprehensive CX assessment and strategic plan customized for your unique business needs, connect with us here today.