What are HRMS RFIs and how do you use them?
Any article about an acronym needs to begin with a definition – especially when the industry has a habit of using its abbreviations interchangeably.
RFI stands for “request for information” and is not to be confused with a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for quote (RFQ). It represents a specific part of your HRMS selection process. At the RFI stage, you have a list of software vendors or systems in mind but you still need more information before deciding which ones you will invite to submit a proposal. With an RFI, you’re making an inquiry so as to better understand what’s available and which systems are worth exploring in depth; it’s the first stage in a bigger conversation. This definition begs two obvious questions: what information do you request, and to whom do you send that request?
An HRMS RFI template
While you can – and should – structure your RFI to suit your own business needs, the following template is offered as one way to do it. The explanation of each section is an example only, feel free to add whatever questions you need and to use, adapt and improve it to fit your unique requirements.
A bit about you
- Introduction – who you are, the purpose of the RFI and who it is aimed at
- Background & context – a little detail about your organization (size, locations, basic structure)
- The selection process – a brief explanation of the process you’re using (e.g. RFI, RFP, demos, decision)
- How to respond – use of a standard format (if you have one), where to send responses and by when
- Conditions/assumptions – lay down the ground rules (e.g. responses in English, prices in dollars, responses do not guarantee selection)
A bit about them
- General information – Request information about the name and version of the HRMS package, how long has it been on the market, date of next version
- Company information – name, full address and contact details, public or private, revenue data, market share, staff levels, locations, and offices
- Pricing model – Request information about the license, monthly subscription and whether it is based on users or records
- Warranties & maintenance – Ask for the details of what’s included in the basic price and what isn’t as well as maintenance and updating arrangements
- Implementation – Ask the supplier to outline support available (at extra cost?), configuration and customization options
- Hardware – Request the details of what hardware, if any, is required
- Software – Request information regarding the architecture on which the package is based, technical considerations of integrating with your existing business software
- Functionality – list and details of each feature and automation possibility you are interested in; it’s useful to go into some detail here to gain insight into the differences between potential suppliers’ systems (e.g. do not simply ask if the system has a personnel database, ask whether it stores the data you’re interested in: contract history, salary history, benefits package, medical/illness history, skills, and knowledge, etc.)
Who should you send your HRMS RFI to?
Once you have an RFI template geared to your specific system needs, you have to decide who to send it to. It’s tempting to send it to as many prospects as possible (after all, you don’t want to rule anyone out yet, right?) but the scattergun approach rarely pays off. You’re more likely to end up swamped by a pile of unsuitable responses.
Research online, talk to your network contacts, reach out to your LinkedIn groups, and aim for a list of a dozen suppliers at most, all of whom have products that appear ‘on paper’ to be a potential fit for your business.
The responses to your RFI should give you enough information to decide on a half dozen vendors at most who you can invite to submit a more detailed proposal or quote in which they tailor their offering to your specific situation. This is, of course, a significant amount of work for the vendors, work that they may be unwilling to do unless they know they are in with a reasonable chance of success. That’s what the RFI is for, to identify your ‘definite’ possibilities.
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