For a great RFP, ask the right questions
FinanceNovember 24, 2020

For a great RFP, ask the right questions

So what are some of the most important questions to ask? Read this blog to discover more!

So you have laid the foundation for a successful RFP process in my previous blog. Now, it’s time to dig deeper into the details to assure that you end up with the right solution for today – and for the future.

The key to achieving that is to make sure that you’re asking the right questions as part of your RFP process – questions that align with your needs, target your pain points, and help reveal the opportunities, benefits and advantages of a particular solution.

With that being said, it’s important to value quality over quantity. Presenting a vendor with hundreds of questions can be a red flag that indicates you really don’t know what you’re looking for. Beyond that, you are left with reviewing hundreds of answers from multiple vendors which is not only time consuming, but with can cause information overload can end up muddying the process.

Better questions = better results

A better idea is to focus on a smaller set of questions – generally about 60 to 75 – that home in how the solution will specifically meet your unique needs.

Then – and this should go without saying – make sure you take the time to carefully review and assess the responses. Read the answers in detail, looking specifically for those that add additional specifics or include a hypothetical situation within their response.

Take time to speak to the other stakeholders involved. I recommend making two columns on a piece of paper or perhaps just use a Word or Excel doc. Label one column as “Need to have” and the other as “Nice to have” so you can prioritize what is most important.

For example: You’d like to have workflow functionality so that you can see at the end of the month (or quarter) who is doing what step in the close process, how far along they are in completing it, and if their changes have been approved. If your current method includes multiple e-mail threads that requires chasing down responsible parties to ask about their task status, with everyone in the process being notified, then this is definitely an important “Need to have.”

Key questions for better insight

So what are some of the most important questions to ask?

There are many examples of pertinent questions that you should be asking as far as functionality is concerned, but the process should not stop there. You want to gain as much insight as possible for each vendor you are evaluating. Here are some examples:

How long have you been providing solutions for the Office of Finance?

This is key, as you want an experienced company with a solid leadership team. A variation of this question could be: How many implementations have you completed with this solution for a company of our size?

What is your company’s financial position? Are you well-funded or do you have actual results we can view?

The financial health and stability of your potential vendor is vital. Will they be around in two or three years and still be able to support their solution? For your sake, they better be.

How does your solution constantly innovate in the office of the CFO?

Can the company leverage new and emerging technologies such as AI or machine learning? Where do they see themselves down the road on their company roadmap?

Does your solution offer global support?

You don’t want to end up with a solution that doesn’t work globally. Many companies have international locations that cannot rely on “US only” support centers. Choose those vendors that offer true global support to ensure that your teammates get the support they need when they need it.

How disruptive will your solution be to our current technology, workflows and processes?

Nobody wants to endure both the trouble and the potential expense of having to switch to, say, a new browser for all the potential users of the new solution if it is not compatible with your existing technology and processes. Likewise, you do not want a vendor’s solution that can only provide Cloud service through Azure while all of your other company cloud applications are provided through AWS or vice versa.

Find a vendor that offers the flexibility you need -- not one that makes you change from your current state to accommodate them.

For example, CCH Tagetik can run seamlessly on Azure, AWS, the Web and with any existing ERP solution (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, SQL, etc.) We can also integrate with any existing database you have such as payroll and HR, GLs, operations, etc. In fact, CCH Tagetik offers the exact functionality both in the cloud and on premise. There are no performance considerations to consider as you may find among other vendors.

Informative – not overwhelming

Your RFP/RFI process should ultimately be informative and assist you in narrowing down your list of potential vendors to those that you would like to demo their offering.

It shouldn’t be overwhelming. Keep it to just a few vendors. Ask the questions that relate to what you want in a new and ideal solution and what qualities you expect to see in a vendor.

If you want to learn how a leading solution could accelerate your finance evolution. Download the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning & Analysis and Cloud Financial Close Solutions here .