5 RFP Strategies to find the Enterprise Safety Software of your dreams

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Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

Need to purchase 2,000 staplers for your corporate office? Then a standard RFP built to produce the best commodity at the best price is the right way to go. Why? Because you’re looking at hundreds, potentially thousands of comparable offerings, where price is the chief differentiator.  Selecting a vendor for Enterprise Safety Management software however is more complex, and certainly more challenging than finding a vendor to meet your day to day stapling needs. You’re solving problems that will drive the productivity and profitability of your business.  For that reason, the typical cut and dry RFP doesn’t guarantee the best decisions for your organization’s Safety Management software needs, focusing too much on price and not enough on business value.

So how do you flip the script and re-focus your RFP process on business value to ensure selection of the best possible vendor?  Below are five strategies that can help you do just that.

Don’t Stifle Creativity.
Traditional RFP processes are built to check off boxes, and what ends up happening with this method is you put your potential vendors in a box.  Departments generate a list of functional features and request Yes or No answers from vendors.  You’re trying to solve a problem with your Enterprise Safety software, and in no way does a Yes or No checklist of functions and features bring you any closer to solving that problem.  Instead, create a RFP process that focusses on business needs and outcomes rather than features and functionality.  If you give vendors the opportunity to set their companies apart with how they can solve your business problems, they often come to the table with a much more attractive proposition.  In turn, this attracts higher quality suppliers and drives even better results than you had originally intended. 

Give Vendors Opportunity to Solve the Problem.
Involve senior management in formulating the business problems you are trying to solve, and communicate these business terms openly to vendors upfront.  Give them the opportunity to truly understand the problems you’re trying to solve, including giving them access to the right individuals in your organization that can properly articulate the business needs.  Don’t use your RFP to tell vendors what the solution is, ask them how to solve your problem and you will quickly realize that there are many more possibilities presented than you ever imagined.

Evaluate the Vendor as Much as the Software.
Don’t just purchase software, find a partner.  Ask vendors to provide information on the culture of their organization, including the type of people they employ, their leadership beliefs, and vision for the future.  Asking them to provide information on independent analyst reports, or whether they choose to obtain industry leading certifications can speak volumes about their understanding of your business’ values.  Lastly, speak to customers and references prior to RFP who can give you a unique view into working with the vendor first hand.

Be Frank With Your Priorities.
Just as your evaluation criteria should be well defined for internal purposes, it’s also best practice to assign weightings to that criteria in your RFP.   For example; maybe your primary strategic safety objective is to build a world-class, mainstreamed safety culture into your organization, so a user-friendly, easily adopted solution is essential to success.  Understanding the weighting of your priorities will allow vendors to provide more information on the criteria that matters most to you.  

Think Beyond the Sale.
Traditional RFPs are solely focused on the purchase.  But once you’ve made that safety software purchase is when the real work begins.  Ask vendors to effectively demonstrate their ability to execute on different types of projects with varying implementation needs to ensure your expectations can be met.  In addition, having a high-level view into their methodology, the cross-discipline teams that will manage your project, and how they plan to support you post-implementation will help you assess whether your partnership will be successful in the long run.

Don’t let your safety project fall victim to the pitfalls of a traditional RFP.  Use the strategies above to build a RFP tailored to Enterprise Safety Software that will push vendors to do more than just check off boxes.  Less vendors may come to the table to respond to your request, but the ones who do will be the right ones.

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