Selecting a Notification System: Is Issuing an RFP the Right Choice for Your Organization?

Your organization wants to improve its critical communication capabilities. And, you’ve been tasked with compiling information to evaluate systems, compare capabilities and assess vendors. Now what?
Being involved in, or potentially making, a purchasing decision that affects your entire organization can be a daunting task, especially when it pertains to a technology you may not be familiar with or completely understand.

Will issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) really make the process any easier? Honestly, it depends.

In this post, the first in our latest blog series, The Ins and Outs of RFPs for Emergency Notification, we’ll provide some guidance on answering this important question (and perhaps even a few others) to get you and your organization started down the right path.

Before taking on the challenge of writing an RFP, think about what you already know versus what you need to know. Because RFPs are a lot of work for everyone involved, sometimes doing some simple research or making a few phone calls is the best way to fill in the gaps and make a decision. However, if you find your “need to know” list is long or even overwhelming, issuing an RFP might be your best option.

While RFPs are great tools for gathering information and comparing vendors, they do require a lot of time and resources to be successful, so here are a few more things to consider before going to RFP:

Who are the industry leaders? Knowing the key players will help narrow your selection immediately. By sending the RFP to only these vendors, your procurement team won’t need to weed out proposals in order to get to the top-tier responses.

What is your timeline? A tight timeline, i.e., two weeks or less, can make getting quality responses challenging. And, you may forget to ask some important questions. A good RFP takes time to prepare, and to answer.

The more details, needs or requirements you include on the front end makes it easier for vendors to supply the right responses on the back end. And, the more time you give them to answer (30 days is reasonable) is always appreciated, as your organization’s RFP is most likely not the only one on the vendor’s plate.

Who is ultimately making the purchasing decision? Is it you? Your CFO? A consultant? Vendors may not know who the decision maker is, but they want to write their responses in a way that fully answers and just as important, appeals to the appropriate audience.

Knowing the right questions to ask in your RFP will help you get the best responses from everyone for everyone. Your decision maker will have the information needed to make a decision, usually without asking additional questions, and you haven’t wasted time preparing and issuing an RFP.

Once you’ve made the decision to use an RFP to purchase an emergency notification system, what questions should you ask? We’ve created a sample RFP to help you get started.

Watch for other posts as we further explore the RFP process for emergency notification solutions.