This is the fifth part in a 10-part series by Coalition Technologies focusing on replatforming.
Now that your company’s existing platform has undergone a comprehensive analysis, you have a better understanding of its strengths—and its weaknesses. Now what?
Next, to finally replace your outdated technology, eliminate your security problems, or resolve your scalability issues (just 28% of high-growth businesses in a survey managed to reach $100 million a year), you’ll need to start the process of writing an RFP, or a request for proposal. This request, which will feature key questions for vendors, will be distributed to ecommerce platform companies that may be interested in taking on your replatforming project.
Here’s a rundown on why exactly you need an RFP and how to go about writing a winning RFP for the best results.
The Purpose of Writing an RFP
Your RFP will standardize your vendor evaluation criteria among the top vendors you wish to send your request to. Around 3-5 is ideal on average. This way, you can easily compare your potential vendors’ responses to your inquiries, then choose the vendor that best fits your unique needs. And you can do this efficiently—without all of the sales communication you’d otherwise have to go through.
By writing and submitting an RFP to vendors, you essentially increase your chances of attaining the best prices and services for your replatforming project.
Start Your RFP with an Overview of Your Project
As you embark on the process of writing an RFP, you’ll first want to provide an overview of your company and replatforming project.
Start by introducing your business in 1-2 paragraphs. This will offer plenty of information to give your readers an idea of what your business involves without overwhelming them. Then, provide detailed information about your objectives and goals for your project. You should also spell out what you expect from your top vendors’ ecommerce platforms, as well as how much you are willing to pay for your replatforming project (your budget).
In addition, tell your vendors when they should hear back from you if they end up winning your business or become a finalist. Feel free to also add your project’s kickoff date and target completion date; just be sure that the dates you include are realistic.
The vital information offered in this section of your RFP will help vendors to determine whether taking on your replatforming project would be worthwhile to them. This is arguably the most important section of your RFP, and if you write it well, more vendors will likely read the remainder of your RFP.
Highlight Your Preference for Responses
As you proceed with writing your RFP, you’ll want to explain in a new section the document format you prefer for your vendors’ responses. For example, after you’re finished preparing an RFP, do you want your vendors’ responses to the RFP in PowerPoint, Portable Document Format, or Word format?
Also, explain how long you want the response to every question to be, and how much detail you’re looking for in each answer. Be sure to also include in this section the deadline you have set to receive the responses, and where they need to be sent.
Provide the Results of Your Existing Platform’s Audit
The next step in writing your RFP is to provide a detailed overview of your company’s current platform. The platform audit you recently completed will help you to complete this step.
In this section, you’ll want to describe your current platform’s pain points and limitations. How is it inhibiting your business’s marketing tech stack? The more details, the better. Also, spell out any features or strengths that you wish to carry over to your new platform. In this stage of preparing an RFP, you’ll also need to outline any known project risks your potential vendors should be aware of.
Spell Out Your Expectations for Your New Platform
This is another essential stage of preparing an RFP for a replatforming project. In this section of writing the RFP, you’ll want to organize your list of desired features by priority, using what’s called the MoSCoW method as shown below.
- M = Must have a given requirement to satisfy your business’s needs (e.g., a requirement that will boost your platform’s functionality—the main reason for around 60% of replatforming projects)
- S = Should have a given requirement if it’s possible, although the success of your project isn’t dependent on it
- C = Could have a given requirement as long as it doesn’t impact any other part of your project
- W = Would like a given requirement later, but the delivery of this requirement isn’t necessary at the moment
The importance you place on each requirement’s delivery will ultimately shape the process and outcome of your replatforming project. Anything that is assigned a “W” per the MoSCoW method is something you can postpone for a future date based on how it will impact your current timeline or budget.
Dig into Your Pricing and Budget Needs
As you wrap up the process of writing your RFP, you’ll want to provide a specific description of your budget. You’re essentially reiterating the budget information you should have included in the very first section of your RFP.
Although this part of the process of preparing an RFP is technically optional, it is wise to provide some guidance to your vendors regarding pricing. For instance, will you be working with fixed materials and a time budget? Or, will your pricing be based on the amount of time spent on the project (e.g., per day)? Also, make a note of any fiscal year–related limitations that your potential vendors need to know about.
Why Including Budget Information Is Invaluable
The more pricing guidance you provide, the better you can manage your potential vendors’ expectations from the start. In this way, you can rest assured that any proposals you receive will fit your project’s finance and billing cycles. However, remember that different vendors will likely present their pricing in different ways, so thoroughly comb through all of the pricing information you receive to make sure that you accurately compare your vendors’ information.
Another Important Budget Consideration
Consider also listing such details as your stock-keeping unit/product quantity and your long-term and near-term anticipated growth when writing your RFP. This will further help your chosen vendor to design an ecommerce platform that will make the most sense for your future and immediate budgets.
In the next part of our Replatforming Series, read about how to go about developing a risk assessment plan for your replatforming project.