HRMS Acronyms: Understanding RFI, RFQ, and RFP

You could be forgiven if you’re less than an expert in the dizzying array of HRMS verbiage that has flooded the market as of late. After all, with terms like HCM, SaaS, LMS, and a bevy of others coming out daily, there aren’t many within the HR industry that haven’t experienced at least some confusion over terminology. That same principle applies to the HRMS selection process; and in particular to the terms of HRMS RFIs, RFQs, and RFPs. Even if you’ve been through the exercise of choosing an HR application before, the definitions below are helpful to review in order to stay on top of what exactly it is that you’ll be requesting from prospective HRMS vendors. Even more important than simply familiarizing yourself with these monikers though is to understand where they fit in your HRMS selection process and the relative importance of each.

HRMS RFI (Request for Information)

Easily one of the biggest hurdles to get over in any HR software selection process is getting HRMS vendors to answer your initial questions about their applications, services, and support. In part that’s because just as you are vetting them, they are in turn qualifying you as a potential client. A formal RFI can help smooth the way by identifying the key issues your organization is considering and posing questions to the vendor in manner that shows your organization is serious about this purchase and the vendor’s solution. Questions about hosting, security, system functionality, and others are all fair game but keep in mind that an RFI is designed to narrow the field, not answer all your questions about a particular HR software solution. By simplifying your RFI document to capture information from vendors on company values, high-level application capabilities, and fit, not only will more responses come back, but you’ll also be able to save time in the process. One final tip: when comparing HRMS vendors ask yourself whether you’re being “sold” on their solution, or whether your questions are being answered.

HRMS RFP (Request for Proposal)

Evaluating responses from the HRMS RFI you just sent out should have netted at least a few top vendor choices. Whether due to the vendor company’s values, their professional response, or something less tangible, now the RFI is completed, you can move further into the process of short-listing potential HRMS solutions. That means putting forth a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the top choices. This step is truly where the rubber meets the road and allows you to deliver the laundry list of functionalities that you put together during your HRMS requirements gathering phase. This is not the time however to fall prey to the all-inclusive sales demo many vendors are keen to use. You’ve already taken the time to outline what you’ll need the HRMS solution to accomplish, so stick by those specifics. A demo is certainly recommended, but be sure that the focus stays on the use cases you’ve already identified.

HRMS RFQ (Request for Quote)

At this point, more than likely given your organization’s unique requirements, you should have a short-list of roughly two to six vendors you’re anxious to advance. And while some of the final information may have already been covered in either the HRMS RFP or RFI, now is the chance to formally address the questions of costs, payment terms, maintenance, Support Level Agreements (SLAs), etc.). Keep in mind though that you want to endeavor to be comparing apples to apples once you reach this step. So for instance, if you have short-listed a cloud HRMS solution as well as one that is on-premise, it will be difficult to assess the exact financial similarities.

These documents can help provide your organization with the means to keep the discussion focused on facts. By no means are they meant to be all inclusive however. If you have a vendor you’ve already identified as a front-runner but that maintains a policy of non-response to HRMS RFIs, RFPs, or RFQs, then flexibility should certainly be considered.

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Micah Fairchild

About the author…

Micah Fairchild is a writer and editorial specialist, former Associate HR Director, and most recently Editor-in-Chief.

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Micah Fairchild