Earlier this week, we offered some suggestions for Education RFPs. We’re re-running a post from a few years ago with similar suggestions for Enterprise.
Here at Kaltura, we love video. We not only love it, we also really believe in it. We believe that video is not only continuously growing in volume, but that the number and breadth of use cases that require support is growing as well. We believe that video has become mission critical for organizations and that it is both the most important document- and media-type now and for the foreseeable future.
If you’re ready to launch an RFP process for an Enterprise Video Solution, you may not entirely share our zealous attitude but at the very least you’ve identified the need for a video platform. And if you’re ready to launch an RFP process, you’ve also made the decision to commit the time and human capital in order to craft, review and evaluate the responses.
When we talk about an RFP (Request for Proposal) for an Enterprise Video Platform we are referring to the process by which an organization outlines its requirements for an enterprise video solution. It uses its RFP to invite companies to submit proposals, which it then evaluates to find the solution that will best meet its business, technological and financial goals.
Now given all that, what can you do in order to make sure that your RFP process is efficient and that at the end of it all you get the right product/solution rather than a generic and vague proposal?
We see A LOT of RFPs and we take our RFP responses very seriously. We don’t want to waste our prospects’ time or our own. Here are the 5 things we’ve learned from this end of the table about what makes a successful Request for Proposal process.
A little bit of planning will go a long way
- Do some preliminary research and scan the landscape: You don’t want to waste your time on companies that can’t meet your needs. Doing an RFP well requires a significant investment of time and resources for both you and for the respondent, so do your research.
Identify those companies that could actually offer you what you’re looking for. Scan the landscape, talk to your IT department and/or reach out to your network and engage your trusted advisors, and look at impartial 3rd party industry analysts such as Gartner and Forrester.
Once you’ve identified 7-10 prospective vendors, get to know them. Reach out to them and learn about their offering, schedule an intro meeting, request a demo or sign up for a free trial. This will help you begin to compile relevant sample questions.
While you want to get a variety of proposals, too many proposals may prove counter-productive. Try to narrow down your list to the top 3-5 vendors, send out an NDA and invite them to respond. An NDA will allow both you and the vendor to share more information. The more you can share, the more clarity you’ll be able to provide about your current challenges and the more tailored the responses you’ll get.
- Consider a long-term enterprise-wide strategy: If you’re going to go through the exercise, think long-term and make some internal noise—working in silos can be wasteful for organizations and other divisions may have similar needs. Consider an enterprise-wide strategy. Talk to other departments and engage business leaders across HQ and divisions to streamline processes and enjoy the benefits of umbrella accounts, synergies and economies of scale. Bring all stakeholders together and set a 3-5 year plan and vision: where you are and where you need to be, what use cases you need to support with video, which features are mission critical and which are a nice to have.
- Don’t spin your wheels. From our experience, it takes about 4-6 weeks to launch an RFP process including research, drafting the RFP, and publishing it. If it takes longer, you may need more input. Don’t sit on it—reach back out to your list of prospective vendors and advisors and ask for help. Try to collect as many templates as you can.
Now that you’re ready to write the RFP… Think beyond the technical requirements
- Define your vision: Technical requirements are important but so is understanding your vision. Before you sit down to write your technical requirements, try to paint a picture of where you are and where you want to go. A good solution will meet your needs today, but will also be future proof. Try to include as many assumptions as possible in terms of which solution elements are mission critical and which are not. This will help respondents to frame their offer correctly.
- Provide context: You know your industry best and certain industries have specific needs in which video can play a significant role. You also know your organization best and the challenges that video can solve for you. State your goals and objectives and the reason that you are seeking bids. What have you been using so far? What has worked and where has it failed to meet expectations? Who is the intended audience and what are the expectations and outcomes that you are trying to achieve?
The key is to think about the RFP process as a dialog rather than a one-way conversation. Ample opportunities for communication and clarifications such as Q&A sessions will help you get to know the vendors better, brainstorm together, and let the vendor craft a more accurate offer.
Hopefully, we’ve given you a few tools and points to consider to make sure that your RFP process is efficient and that at the end of it all you get the right product/solution rather than a generic and vague proposal.