Given the resources and time invested in implementing a new CMS, ensuring you choose the best technology for your organization is paramount.
A thorough request for proposal (RFP) document can help your company avoid lost time and sunk costs by ensuring the right stakeholders are involved and the essential questions are asked during the selection process.
That way, there are no nasty surprises later on.
In this article, we'll cover why you need a request for proposal and how to make your next content management system RFP count. We've also included an RFP sample that you can use as a template when creating your content management system RFP.
While the template serves as a great starting point, it’s crucial that you modify it to suit your organization’s unique needs.
There’s a seemingly infinite number of web content management systems on the market. Each vendor claims their CMS is exactly what your organization needs to cure all of its digital experience woes.
The RFP is a chance to find out which vendors can truly support your specific business requirements. Through the process of creating an RFP and reviewing the responses, you'll gain a deeper understanding of your organization, what you want from a CMS vendor and how a particular vendor fits your organization.
From there, you’ll have a shortlist of vendors with a mutual understanding of the solution needed that can fuel further conversations and product demos later on.
When sending a request for proposal to CMS vendors, it's crucial to paint a clear picture of your business needs in terms of functionality, scalability, hosting requirements and integrations. If the vendor knows what you're looking for, they'll be in a better position to explain the features that will have the greatest impact on your organization.
Along with these areas, it's essential to gain an understanding of what migrating to the CMS will be like, the key challenges and a realistic timeline for the project. While implementation and the first year with the CMS are crucial, you should also consider the long-term implications of the CMS decision. Your RFP should help ensure the vendor you’re forming an ongoing business relationship with is stable, has a strong track record of successful client projects, and has a promising roadmap and company outlook.
With these factors in mind, below is a template you can use when creating your RFP. Note that the proposed contents are meant to be instructional.
[Company Name] requests a proposal for a reliable CMS that will allow our organization to manage content at an enterprise-scale and integrate with our critical business systems. We've outlined our core requirements, current operational challenges, desired technical features and an ideal timeline for making a CMS decision. Please review these requirements and provide more information regarding your ability to meet them. In addition, we've requested more information on your organization, a product roadmap and client testimonials to gain a better understanding on how our organizations can form a mutually beneficial business relationship.
In this section, you'll want to focus on the overall direction of your organization and its corporate vision. Relevant information includes your industry, competitors, customers and more. You want the RFP responses closely tailored to your specific business.
You should include up to five core business outcomes that you hope to achieve by implementing the new web content management system. These goals should come from the internal roadmaps, upcoming initiatives or key objectives of each stakeholder group within your organization. Each goal should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-constrained (SMART), with a focus on results that lead to revenue growth.
In this section, describe some of the current challenges and issues with your existing CMS that you're hoping to solve by moving to a new system. Maybe your CMS uses outdated technology or is unable to provide the features you need to scale as your business grows. You should include a short list of existing issues for each of your key stakeholders from marketers to IT.
In this section, you should describe the key milestones for your decision-making process. You’re forging a business relationship with the vendor you choose, so it’s essential to be clear on expectations from the start. Here’s an example of some of the key milestones to include.
With our core business requirements in mind, these are the software features we’ve determined are most important for our organization. Please explain how your CMS delivers these capabilities out of the box.
With our business and technical requirements in mind, please describe the implementation process for your CMS product.
Our organization wants to ensure your company provides an excellent environment for our team to build customer experiences today, as well as tomorrow. We want to understand your overall corporate strategy and key differentiators when it comes to the vision driving your product and its roadmap. Please give a brief overview of your company and its current CMS product(s).
Specifically, we’re looking for responses on the following:
Our organization is looking for vendors with a proven track record of successful CMS implementations that achieve client business goals. With that in mind, please provide a list of clients related to our industry, and if possible, case studies detailing their specific solutions. Through this, we will gain confidence in your ability to deliver a reliable, enterprise-grade CMS solution to fit our needs.
We appreciate you filling out our request for proposal and wish for you to add any other information you deem relevant in this section.
With your RFP ready, you'll want to create a shortlist of potential vendors that appear to meet your business requirements based on preliminary research. While it’s tempting to send your RFP to dozens of vendors, remember you’ll need to review each response carefully. Reviewing proposals is a crucial step in the process and not something you want to skim over because there’s too much information.
Instead, save time by carefully vetting the vendors ahead of time and keeping your list under ten software companies. A few things to look for include publicly available case studies, awards and client testimonials. Don’t only select the most prominent companies. Consider smaller vendors as well if they are thought leaders in the industry or display a high level of expertise.
You should send your RFP to each vendor, and then thoroughly evaluate their responses to create a shortlist of vendors that are most closely aligned with your business objectives. The goal is to narrow the overwhelming web content management marketplace down to three to five potential vendors that you can continue discussions with.