Straightforward guidelines for reviewing RFI responses aredetailed below. Consider following them if your organisation does not haveformal RFI response reviewing and evaluation guidelines.
The objectives of reviewing RFI responsesare to:
- identify good potential software solutions and
- create a short list of these vendors / software
- determine additional queries and questions to ask thevendors
- eliminate those vendors / software which clearly do notmeet your needs
Reviewing RFI responses is a multi-stage process. Start withinitial checks and a quick review. Then move on to more detailed RFI analysisand evaluation. You will need to determine how critical – compliance with theinitial checks and review is. For instance, will you reject a RFI response(vendor) that fails one of the initial checks or review criteria?
- Is the RFI response in the right format? Eg email documentsay word or pdf file attachment – which ever you requested.
- Or if you requested paper – are there no more than themaximum number of pages you stipulated?
- Is the RFI response sealed?
- Received on time?
- Sent to the right person / department?
- Is the correct RFI reference number stated?
- Are vendor contact details included eg named contact,phone and email address?
- Sent more information than requested eg supportingdocuments, sales brochures, demo CD’s?
Reviewall responses for:
- Completeness. Are there answers to all the questions youasked? Do you have all the information you requested?
- Quality. Is it a considered, detailed and realisticresponse or is it a rushed, copy and paste job?
- Clarity. Is it clearly written, with no unnecessary jargonor marketing speak? Can you easily understand the RFI response?
- An indication of how keen the vendor is to work with youeg meeting your time scales, offering additional help etc.
RFIanalysis and evaluation
The quick initial checks and review of the responses maywell identify likely potential solutions. So the emphasis for RFI analysis andevaluation may turn to eliminating vendors which do not meet your needs.
Firstly, create a list of your absolute minimum and/ormandatory requirements. Then check each RFI response against this list.Eliminate all responses that clearly do not meet your minimum and/or mandatoryrequirements.
If you are left with a relatively large list of potentialsolutions, repeat the process, but at a slightly more detailed level ie comparethe remaining RFI responses against your key essential requirements. Considerusing an evaluation matrix, with weighted scoring, similar to this example.
There will inevitably be parts of the responses or answersto questions that you are just not sure. These will require clarification – socollect these up for each RFI response. But before you contact the vendors forresolution, review them. Do the number and type of queries that you are askingchange your thoughts on the likelihood of the proposed solution to meet yourrequirements?
Onceyou have the responses, add them into your evaluation and rework accordingly.Where possible eliminate more vendors. Depending upon the numbers left (say 7or 8); rank the potential solutions into two categories:
- The 3 or 4 most likely potential solutions / vendors, to‘short list’ and pursue further
- The next 3 or 4 solutions, which meet most of yourrequirements. As ‘runners up’, they may be worth a considering, if the shortlisted vendors turn out to be not as good as you thought.
However, if you are struggling, a quick comparison chart maybe of help. See the Comparison Chart of RFI Responses example, which you candownload and amend for your use. It’s a simple summary of the potentialsoftware solutions / vendors, based on the RFI evaluations. The emphasis is onwhere the requirements are / are not met by the software solutions – to assistin creating a short list of the best solutions.
Issuesfrom the RFI
Newissues may arise from the RFI process and reviewing RFI responses. You will need to consider and include themwithin your system selection process as appropriate. For example:
- How have your requirements (business, technology,processes etc) changed as a result of going through the RFI process?
- Have you now seen potential solutions that you had notconsidered before? In addition, how would you be able to incorporate these?
- How will you include these in your requirements? If thereare substantial changes, do your requirements need to be re-approved?
- What additional questions / criteria do you wish to addinto your RFP?
- What questions / criteria have been answered in the RFIand can be removed from your RFP?
- Is your project budget still accurate? Does it needamending?
- Is your outline project plan still valid? Can you still selecta new system and then implement it by your desired due dates?
Reporton your evaluation of the RFI Responses
Preparea report to pull all your RFI response evaluations together. Considerincluding:
- A report summary
- The Comparison Chart of RFI Responses
- Recommendations – such as to accept your short listedsolutions and move on to the next stage(s) of the selection process
- Summary of each RFI response covering details of thepotential software solution eg requirements fit (or not), technology, outlinecosts, vendor reference customers, vendor profile, vendor contact details
- Carefully and clearly, document your reasons for shortlisting potential solutions as well as for eliminating potential solutions / vendors.You may need to revisit this later on eg when questioned by the board orauditors.
- An overview of the work you have undertaken to review theRFI responses.
Finalisingthe review of RFI responses includes:
- Presenting your evaluation report to your board, steeringgroup, user group as relevant
- Obtaining their acceptance of your results and approval toproceed with the short listed vendors
- Informing the short listed vendors
- Informing the unsuccessful vendors – they may not like thenews, but knowing is better than not knowing.