Top 10 Critical Components of the ERP Selection RFP

Top 10 Critical Components of the ERP Selection RFP

Who wants to deal with an ERP selection RFP? Literally no one. They are boring, dry, and unnecessary. Everyone is generally super frustrated with them. Because of this issue, some companies choose not to compete in opportunities requiring an RFP. The customers are equally afraid of writing one because of the fear of not getting traction from ERP vendors. But the problem is not necessary with the RFP process. It’s how companies write them. Not understanding their true intent and not realizing that the ERP vendors are running businesses as well. A process that they might perceive as unfair or unnecessarily difficult will make it challenging to drive their interest.

The intent of an RFP must be to document details that might require weeks or months for vendors to comprehend. Capturing it into an organized document helps them understand the need and assess if their solution would be fit or not. Write them to reinforce details covered during the demo. Because with systems as complex as ERP, most attendees are likely to retain only 10% of the demo, missing out on critical details. Reinforcing through the written process helps ERP buyers and vendors avoid missing critical details, which might be vital for the success of an ERP project.

The more experienced the writer is in relationship-oriented roles, especially in sales and negotiations, the higher the quality of RFPs. Generally, writers with little exposure to customer-facing roles such as finance or IT are likely to make it overly difficult. These components will help you structure your ERP RFP with the right amount of details.

Top 10 Critical Components of the ERP Selection RFP - List

10. Selection Process

Its Importance
  • Communicating the seriousness of the project. Believe it or not, ERP vendors are super selective about deals unless it’s a VAR or a smaller vendor. They might not want to complete the deal if they perceive that you are not serious. Setting expectations about the selection process helps avoid unnecessary churn and disinterest.
Common Mistakes
  • Not spelling out the ERP selection process. Not including the right amount of details that vendors would need to get approval at their end. As well as to assess that this would be the right opportunity for them.
  • Not agreeing on the steps of the process. Companies considering ERP selections in the DIY mode might not formalize the process and may take forever to decide, disengaging credible ERP vendors.
Details That Matter
  • Steps of the ERP selection process. Details such as how many phases would be part of the process. How you will make decisions. Who will advance, and who will not? What will be the decision criteria, and who will be the decision-makers? Communicating steps of the ERP selection process not only helps in aligning expectations but also in managing scheduling and ensuring that key resources are available to support the ERP selection process.
  • Dates and timelines of key activities. Do you have a defined timeline for ERP selection? How about dates for the activities, such as ERP selection or demo? Including dates and timelines helps set the expectations that you have a structured process and you are not going to take forever to decide, giving the credible vendors the confidence they would need to engage with you.

ECommerce Supply Chain Transformation

Learn how LockNLube transformed its inventory and supply chain challenges by consolidating over 20 systems.

9. Proposal Evaluation Criteria and Delivery Instructions

Its Importance
  • To communicate that the process will be fair. Communicating fairness is critical to encourage vendors to have their best shot. Without this, getting sufficient details to evaluate a solution would be a challenge.
  • To convey that RFP is not just a formality. Vendors disengage as soon as they feel that ERP selection RFP is just a formality and may be written to favor a specific vendor.
  • To let the vendors evaluate if they are the right fit for this opportunity. Provide proposal evaluation criteria to help them assess their fit. They are likely to be more honest at the beginning of the process if they have not invested as much time in the opportunity.
Common Mistakes
  • Making the process overly complex. Making the evaluation process overly complex might discourage vendors who might be an ideal fit for your business.
  • Coming across as wasting ERP vendors’ time. They might not choose to compete If you come across as wasting their time, even if they might feel that their product might be a fit.
  • Making the process unnecessarily difficult, like only accepting mail. Overly difficult processes miscommunicate that you might be difficult to work with, and they might disengage.
Details That Matter
  • Detailed evaluation process. Specifics about the evaluation process, such as elimination rules and variables of decisions about how ERP vendors will advance at each round. 
  • Clear delivery instructions such as point contact and how they can reach the contact person if they might have any questions.

8. Current Team and Org Chart

Its Importance
  • To communicate that the right decision-makers are involved. Including information about the team and their titles help vendors understand the process has been thought through and that you are serious about the ERP project.
  • To let them research the team members involved and tailor the communication to their needs. Details about team members help them research team members’ backgrounds and tailor communication to their needs and make it relatable for users.
Common Mistakes
  • Being overly secretive about the team members. Regardless of the reasons why you might not choose to communicate about the team involved, being secretive will raise doubts about your seriousness.
  • Not communicating their roles and responsibilities and alignment with the project. Including team members is important, but what is even more critical is communicating their project roles. Details such as their responsibility for specific business processes or their decision-making authority for specific functions or processes.
Details That Matter
  • Names and the titles of the team members involved. Allowing them to research their background to help tailor communication.
  • Their role in the project. It helps them create role-play stories and tailor demo scripts.
  • Expected during the demo. Including who is expected during the demo will help not waste time in creating stories and scenarios from the perspective of users who are likely, not present during the ERP demo.

The 2024 Digital Transformation Report

Thinking of embarking on a ERP journey and looking for a digital transformation report? Want to learn the best practices of digital transformation? Then, you have come to the right place.

7. General Guidelines

Its Importance
  • To communicate any general expectations not related to the project, such as vendors’ financial standing or legal proceedings
  • Communicating overall expectations from the relationship. They help in communicating any regulatory constraints and overall expectations that might not be directly related to the ERP project.
Common Mistakes
  • Being overly verbose with rules that might frighten ERP vendors. The companies that either use boilerplate RFPs or just copied and pasted text might discourage savvy vendors who might be a potential fit for your business.
  • Including boilerplate rules that might not be relevant to the project. Including boilerplate rules not directly related to the project is likely to cast doubts on your seriousness with the project.
Details That Matter
  • General rules such as highlighting add-ons, white-label products, and integrations. Details such as add-ons vs. white-label products help clear up the ownership if there might be any third-party components used to power the entire solution. As well as any other overall expectations not specific to the project.
  • The cost of the RFPs. Include details, such as proof of concepts if they are likely to be paid.
  • Any legal obligations. Any legal obligations, such as pending judgment against the vendor, and if that might be a factor in deciding against a vendor. Legal details such as copyright or NDA.

6. Business Goals

Its Importance
  • To communicate overarching project objectives. Spell out what you are trying to accomplish, be specific.
  • To let vendors help in assessing the feasibility of the to-be state. Without this, challenging would be if their solution is a fit.
  • To connect the dots with other components of the ERP Selection RFP. How other sections relate to each other.
Common Mistakes
  • Not including business goals. Without business goals, they might struggle to evaluate if their solution would be fit or not and unknowingly overcommit.
  • Being too vague with goals. Generic goals are likely to mislead as they might misinterpret them differently than how you intended them to be.
Details That Matter
  • What are you trying to get from this project? Details such as overall objectives from the project and any specific KPIs that you might be thinking of hitting.
  • Expectations for your goals. Sets clear expectations on your priorities so there is no confusion in how they interpret them in their heads vs. what you want.

5. Business Challenges 

Its Importance
  • To communicate the overall drivers. The challenges help them understand what’s driving the project and if the solution is going to be a good fit or not.
  • To help them connect the dots about your needs. The business challenges help connect the dots about the critical success factors and key needs outlined.
Common Mistakes
  • Not including the challenges. Not including the challenges is likely to communicate a biased perspective,  missing out on crucial details required to evaluate a solution.
  • Being too vague with challenges. Be as specific as possible to avoid misinterpretation.
Details That Matter
  • What challenges are the trigger for the project? Specific details such as drivers and triggers for the project.

ERP Implementation Failure Recovery

Learn how Frederick Wildman struggled with Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP implementation failure even after spending over $5M and what options they had for recovery.

4. Future State

Its Importance
  • To connect the dots on what might not be relevant from the as-is state. The future state is important to understand the rollout plan for legacy processes and transactions and if they need to treat legacy processes as requirements in the new model and architecture.
Common Mistakes
  • Including the wishlist might confuse them more than it could help. The wishlists, which are not specific, may be assumed as needs, putting the entire ERP project at risk.
  • Not identifying the future state. Missing the future state assumes the broken as-is needs as requirements.
Details That Matter
  • Specific details about the future state. What’s going to be relevant in the to-be state? What’s going to be changed? Include the rationale for what’s being included and what’s not.

3. Current State

Its Importance
  • To help them understand the complete story. The current state of the business is important for them to understand the as-is state if they might drive any issues with the future architecture. 
  • To help them assess if their solution is a fit. The as-is details will help them assess if their solution would be a fit or not. Without the as-is state, it’s hard to assess if there might be any required customizations, especially why legacy processes can’t be streamlined and aligned with out-of-the-box capabilities.
Common Mistake
  • Intentionally hiding the critical details for fear of miscommunication. The ERP buyers often choose to hide details that, they feel, might confuse the ERP vendors.
  • Missing critical details of the current state. Not documenting the current state with the right specificity will lead them to assume details that might not be intended.
Details That Matter
  • Specific current processes. Details about current processes, such as how they are done right now and what was the rationale behind doing it this way.
  • The rationale for any changes. The rationale why the processes would need to be changed.

ERP Selection: The Ultimate Guide

This is an in-depth guide with over 80 pages and covers every topic as it pertains to ERP selection in sufficient detail to help you make an informed decision.

2. Current and Future Systems

Its Importance
  • To communicate how many systems are involved in the architecture. Depending on how many systems are involved and their role, the scope of the new system might vary.
  • To communicate the need for integration and process boundaries. The systems would help understand the integration and process boundaries of the new system.
Common Mistakes
  • Only including a few systems. Companies tend to ignore systems that they feel might not be relevant, only to learn later their importance for architectural feasibility.
  • Including systems that might not be relevant to the project. Not having a clear understanding of which systems to include might lead to over-communicating systems that might be completely irrelevant, confusing the ERP vendors.
  • Not including versions and specific product names etc. Not including specific details such as product name and version numbers might lead to vendors making assumptions, leading to a biased system selection.
Details That Matter
  • Name of the products and their versions. Include the name of specific products and their versions.
  • How the products are being used in the current architecture. Describe their role in their current architecture, including their integration flows with other systems in the architecture.
  • How they are expected to be used in future architecture. What would their role be in the new architecture, including any integration needs?

1. Critical Success Factors

Its Importance
  • To avoid brush-offs during demos. Including the critical success factors and asking vendors to respond as part of an RFP can help where vendors might brush off if they might be weaker with those capabilities.
  • To stay focused on factors that are likely to make or break the implementation
  • What’s most important for selection and that the system will be a good fit? The critical success factors help communicate the factors most critical for selection and implementation.
Common Mistakes
  • Including factors that might not be as critical. ERP buyers not savvy with requirements analysis with limited knowledge of the ERP industry include critical success factors that might not be as critical.
  • Being too vague with critical success factors. Identifying specific critical success factors requires deep ERP implementation expertise that most companies don’t understand and end up choosing that is too generic, giving ERP vendors a leeway to brush off capabilities where they are likely to be weaker.
Details That Matter
  • Critical success factors. The factors that make or break implementation are likely to influence the budget and timelines of the project.
  • The questions related to the critical success factors. Which questions are you seeking answers related to these critical factors? These questions will provide the context of why these factors are critical for you.
  • Whether the critical success factor is a show-stopper or not. Some systems may require workarounds as their capabilities might not be fully hashed out around these success factors. So they might not choose to compete. Identifying show-stoppers would help give them confidence that they have a shot at winning this opportunity.

Final Words

Treat the RFP process with the true intent, which should be to make the selection process easy and convenient, and not difficult. Avoid boilerplate details as much as possible. Write it because it will help teams consume the same information through multiple channels several times, making sure that most critical success factors have been hammered thoroughly. Also, document because it will align the expectations of both parties.

Including an RFP with the selection process will help reinforce and ensure not to miss out on critical details while creating a fair and comfortable process for all ERP vendors involved. But make you hit on these components to provide a convenient experience for all vendors so they feel that you are the kind of customer they would go out of their way to help.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Send this to a friend