Six hacks for perfecting your HRMS RFP

Your ‘request for proposal’ or RFP is an absolutely critical document in your HRMS project. It’s your brief to vendors, telling them exactly what you need in a new HRMS system, a clear statement of requirements that states what you’re looking for, and how you’ll evaluate the options. A good HRMS RFP leaves vendors in no doubt as to what you want, and creates a level playing field on which you can more easily judge which system is your best choice.

In other words, the better your RFP, the better your shortlist of systems to choose from and therefore the better your final choice will meet your needs (probably). So, here are six ‘hacks’ to fine-tune your RFP to get the best possible result?

1. Clarify your criteria

When itemizing your HRMS RFP, categorize your selection criteria in terms of ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’ to help vendors understand your priorities, and help you assess their offer. Naturally, the essential criteria are the ‘must-haves’.

Recommended reading: knock your proposal into shape with our ultimate guide to creating an HRMS RFP.

2. Standardize responses

Providing a template response form means that each vendor’s information will be in the same format, making it easier to compare bids. You can include some ‘free text’ questions for the vendors to wax lyrical about their products’ various extras, but the more you can control the format of the bids, the easier the job of shortlisting will be.

3. Keep some response options narrow

For the functional requirements on your template form, only allow a limited range of initial responses to each one, such as:

  • Basic, out-of-the-box option
  • Available as a standard ‘bolt-on’
  • Only available as a custom option
  • Available via a third party partner
  • Will be available in the future (the question is when?)
  • Not available

Again, the benefit is ease of comparison.

4. Don’t review your HR processes prior to the RFP

A new HRMS is a golden opportunity to review your HR processes for efficiency. However, don’t review too soon! Your RFP should itemize the outcomes or features you desire (payroll, management of paid time off, employee access to individual records, etc.) but not the detailed process steps. That doesn’t mean that your process review should be driven by a particular system, just that including a known set of capabilities or functions will result in a more practical outcome.

5. Give a profile of your ideal vendor

You’re giving a detailed picture of the kind of HRMS you want, so why not the kind of HRMS vendor? Including some vendor criteria is one way to test viability. Put simply, you need to be assured that the vendor’s business is stable enough to last as long as you intend to use the HRMS. Ask for experience, expertise, financial results, product investment levels, client acquisition rates, and most important of all, references from clients with requirements similar to yourself. Be specific - it leads to better, more detailed vendor responses.

6. Avoid ‘gut-feel’ evaluations

Though your gut will undoubtedly have an opinion, it’s best to back it up with some hard scoring against the evaluation criteria. An example of a simple rating would be:

0 = does not meet requirements

1 = partially meets requirements

2 = fully meets requirements

3 = exceeds requirements.

Use this (or something similar) to score the vendor against each criteria, both essential and desirable. But remember, a vendor needs a ‘passing mark’ on the essential criteria to get on your shortlist. By definition, those ‘essentials’ are the dealbreakers.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall