RFP preparation for HRMS

You know you need a new HRMS but how do you reach the stage of looking at viable systems that would meet your business needs? The key is the request for proposal (or RFP). This one document summarizes what you’re looking for, gives your potential system vendors the same, level playing field set of information, and ensures that the responses, bids, and pitches arrive in a single, easier-to-compare format.

Well, that’s the goal, anyway. Creating an RFP that will do all that requires some careful preparation.

How to prepare your HRMS RFP

A standard RFP will have a version of the following contents:

  • Introduction and background, explaining the scope and timings of the HRMS project
  • The business context, laying out the necessary details of your business: numbers, locations, key customers, broad future strategy, etc.
  • System requirements, in other words, the HR processes you aim to automate or otherwise support with the system
  • Technical issues around deployment, necessary hardware, and usage (e.g. if your workforce is widely distributed then a mobile app and functionality might be a priority)
  • Response instructions and a template for a proposal, giving each vendor a standardized format in which to pitch their wares

This content effectively drives your preparation. You need a business case, outlining exactly why a new HRMS is necessary for the organization’s future performance.

You need to involve stakeholders from different parts of the business to fully understand (and then communicate to vendors) both general and specialized requirements – for example, to find a system that can automate your payroll, you’ll need to consult the payroll team, the HR administrators that deal with collecting and managing time and attendance data, and the finance/accounting team.

Likewise, if you have an in-house IT team, they’ll have plenty of input on the technical installation of the new system. It’s entirely possible that you won’t have all of this expertise or knowledge in-house and you may need to consider engaging an HRMS consultant, with their experience in the HRMS selection process.

Once you have all the relevant information and have wrestled it into an easily-understood format, you need to decide where to send the RFP. Up to now, the preparation has mainly been internal but now you need to look outwards and research what’s on the market and what – on the face of the information available – might hit the HR sweet spot for your business.

How do you find those ‘suitable vendors’? How do you whittle them down into a viable shortlist? You’re looking for vendors and systems that potentially meet all of your criteria. Search on the internet, check with your personal network, view some online demo videos, and read through reviews and recommendations.

As you’re doing this, apply the criteria you’ve already drawn up to get as close to a ‘winner’ as possible – when you get to the stage of demos and presentations, it’s much better to be checking out half a dozen systems that all potentially meet your needs (at least, on the surface).

How many people should write your HRMS RFP?

A recent survey from Software Path found the average company spends 20 weeks choosing new HR technology, including putting together an RFP. It’s fair to say that as with any document, the more people that are writing your RFP the more difficult it is to produce a consistent and easily understandable result (an inevitable consequence of design by committee).

However, in the information-gathering stage, you need the right people for input and arguably, the more, the better. As a general principle, it’s recommended that the consultation is as broad as possible, including as many varied perspectives and opinions as possible, but the actual writing of the RFP involves very few people.

Yes, you can send the draft back out to everybody for feedback (have their needs been accurately described?) but the writing is a solo responsibility (beware of the dangers of writing ‘by committee’!)

The benefits of a solid RFP are that your HRMS requirements are not only complete but also clearly expressed, your requirements and selection criteria are prioritized, you receive good responses from vendors with potentially suitable systems, and best of all, as a source document and reference for the whole project, it helps keep control of the process on your side and not the vendors’.

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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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