Why an HRMS RFP is essential to selecting the right software

RFP. Request for proposal. The document you send to HRMS vendors, inviting them to put their wares up for your consideration. At this point of the process, you know what you want and need from a new system. You have a business case signed off by the boss. You have a plan and a budget. What you need is a number of HRMS options to compare against your criteria. And an RFP is how you get those options in front of you for assessment.

The RFP is a clear statement of your requirements. It tells vendors what you want and why. It’s also clear on how you will make your decision and invites them to submit a proposal (often using a standard template). But let’s face it, an RFP is a lot of work to put together. Why not just watch a few online HRMS demos and pick the best-looking? Sure, it’s risky but it saves time, right?

4 reasons you need an RFP

1. It ensures your requirements are complete

When you have to produce a detailed document containing all your HRMS needs, it forces you to research those needs, all of them. Missing stakeholder input is conspicuous by its absence. For a complete (and therefore useful) RFP, you need to talk to anybody with an interest in or an influence on your project: employees, first-line managers and supervisors, middle managers, C-suite, HR managers, and specialists (e.g. payroll, finance, procurement/resourcing, IT). 

2. It helps you prioritize

The audience for your RFP is HRMS vendors and they don’t know you (yet). This encourages you to think about how you present your HRMS requirements. Some are more important than others and you need to be very clear on what the priorities are if you want to finish up with the best system for you.

3. It gets the best response from vendors

Put yourself in the vendors’ shoes for a moment. You have a set of requirements for a new system, complicated by the context in which you plan to use it. Then there’s the future, how will the system fit with your ongoing business strategy? A clear and comprehensive RFP conveys all that information, in an understandable form, and guides vendors to in turn present their system to you in a format that allows you to judge its potential usefulness.

4. It reduces vendor influence on your decision

Naturally, vendors want to tell you about their system’s strengths and unique features. But you need to know how well it fits your needs. And those two perspectives are rarely a match. By clearly stating your needs and priorities you are making it easier for vendors to speak to those needs and priorities, and making it obvious when they choose not to.

In this sense, an RFP makes it easier to spot a glitzy sales pitch offering ‘shiny things’, and helps you bring vendors back to the point: how will their system support your business needs?

According to a recent survey from Software Path, the average company spends 20 weeks choosing new HR technology. And yes, putting together an RFP is a substantial piece of work within that 20-week period. But an RFP also saves you time and work later on in the selection and HRMS implementation processes. An RFP is a basis for a common understanding between client and vendor and ultimately, can stop you from choosing the wrong HRMS for your organization.

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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

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