Every publisher will be faced with the need to buy new technology at some point. Often, when a media organization decides to invest in new tech, the company will spend a fair amount of time developing a request for proposals (RFP) that seeks to address requirements for current business processes. However, to make a demo or RFP successful for your media organization in the long term, you also need to consider what your company might look like in the future.
Successful RFPs should lead you to a partnership in which your technology vendor works with you to achieve your media organization’s goals over a prolonged period of time—not just up to the day your new software becomes operational. Supplier collaboration starts during the RFP process and, in the best-case scenario, even sparks innovation from the vendor. This exchange of ideas, insights, and trends can create lasting solutions to empower the media industry.
In part 3 of this series, Guides to Buying Enterprise Technology, we’ll explore the challenges that can arise during the demo or RFP process and outline 8 considerations for you to keep in mind the next time you’re shopping for new tech.
Navigating a complicated procurement process
When the time comes to update your tech stack, competing priorities across departments can rear their heads and cause conflict within your media organization. In turn, this can slow down the entire demo or RFP process. However, it’s important to try to prevent overwhelm and to stay focused on your end goal.
“Ensuring your organization chooses the most reliable and appropriate supplier to deliver complex technology solutions is key to success,” says this article by PFH Technology Group. “Many businesses who rush this process are left with considerable problems that will cause delays in the whole process.”
When going through the demo or RFP process, take the time to ensure all of your stakeholders are aligned on your media organization’s objectives for the new technology solution. Instead of getting too deep into the weeds writing a list of requirements based on current business processes, take a forward-thinking approach and convey the desired future state of your company in your RFP. Evaluate vendors based on these criteria, rather than on price alone.
Advantages of crafting forward-thinking RFPs
While a central goal of the RFP process is to identify the best technology partner for your company, creating an RFP that looks beyond today and into the future will provide your media organization with valuable insight into a supplier’s ability to understand your challenges and bring innovation to the table.
Your RFP should help potential vendors understand the kind of solutions you need to enable rapid product deployment, workflow efficiency gains, process improvements, and the like. Be as forward-looking as possible when outlining the features and capabilities you’re looking for, versus merely determining support for your operations as they stand today. Provide context and examples to illustrate your business needs, such as use cases, order form examples, insertion orders, and contracts. This will empower suppliers to respond appropriately.
Presenting vendors with a forward-thinking RFP will increase your chances of receiving accurate and useful proposals. A well-qualified technology supplier should be able to provide a robust response along with feedback based on experience in industry trends and best practices. These fresh perspectives can be enlightening and offer your media organization exciting opportunities for change.
Here are a few steps to follow as you craft your RFP to ensure you give vendors sufficient insight into the problems and opportunities you hope to realize with your investment:
- Look beyond today: Don’t just document your current business processes and only request support for the things you do today. Instead, think about how you’d like your media organization to operate in the future.
- Find and identify gaps: Analyze what your new enterprise technology solution needs to help you accomplish that your current system doesn’t support (e.g., what workarounds you’re forced to use today). Document the features you need to keep in the future, too.
- Cast a wide internal net: Consider all facets of your business (CRM, ordering, finance, etc.) when determining the requirements to include in your RFP.
- Prioritize integration capabilities: Part of your goal when it comes to buying new tech should be to reduce integrations and simplify your IT landscape. So, your RFP should state that you’ll give priority to completely integrated solutions where possible.
- Get a fresh set of eyes: Consider working with a consultant to create your RFP. They can bring industry knowledge and an objective perspective to the table.
- Seek peer recommendations: Ask your media industry contacts for feedback on vendors, as well as copies of their own RFP documents.
- Watch for red flags: When responding to your RFP, did a supplier reply with only “yes” or “no” to a question? If they answered “no”, did they include a comment? If not, this may signal that the vendor doesn’t understand your industry, business, or requirements.
- Ask specific questions: Request that suppliers disclose whether the functionality described in their responses is currently available, in the beta stage, or in roadmap.
Pinpoint gaps in your current technology ecosystem
In our new white paper, How to Drive Innovation by Identifying Gaps in Your Technology, we’ll provide a roadmap to help you arrive at a cohesive vision for your next enterprise solution. You’ll get a step-by-step guide to identifying gaps from various perspectives—from the C-suite to finance to sales and more. This will set you up to address issues and complete the RFP process with clarity and confidence. Download the white paper today.