Relying on a solid Request for Proposal (RFP) process when procuring FM software is advantageous, says Doug Ingraham.
02 December 2019 | Doug Ingraham
An RFP is a business document used to solicit proposals - often through a bidding process - from software vendors. Follow these three steps when drafting your RFP.
1 Prove its ROI
Provide your procurement team with information: data points, why you need the software, how it will benefit FM and the entire organisation, and proof of its ROI - FM software will prevent operational delays and unplanned breakdowns, improve material management, increase access to data, and enhance worker productivity.
For accurate cost estimations, gather as much data from potential software vendors as possible to incorporate into projections.
Consider the following:
- Timelines; and
- Internal resources.
2 Write the proposal
Include information such as your organisation, size, mission, and products or services. Then add:
Your needs: What do you want to solve with FM software? Decrease spend, increase visibility into operations, quicker work order time-to-resolution? Also consider:
- Contractor or vendor management capabilities;
- Asset management and asset tracking;
- Mobile compatibility;
- Electronic invoicing;
- Compatibility with other platforms (CRM, ERP, analytics, HR); and
- Data storage and security.
Technical capabilities: Vendors will use this section of the RFP to list their program's technical capabilities such as payment processing and electronic invoicing, work order scheduling, management of internal and external service providers.
Timeline: Determine a maximum time frame for procurement, including licensing and training of staff. Set procurement milestones.
Location: Where are your sites and how many are there? This will inform decisions on the software's scope and agility.
Support options: What support and training does the vendor include with the software subscription? Is there a 24/7 support team or other professional services?
Budget: How much will you spend and on what payment structure. Most FM software products are priced on a per month, per location basis but advanced products are delivered as a service, providing ongoing improvements. Consider how your needs will evolve. Do you need more than the basics, such as analytics, technician management and automated preventive maintenance scheduling?
Demo requests: This will determine whether the software is a good fit. Ask for a demo before the RFP process begins.
3 Communicate with vendors
Make a shortlist of vendors. Look at their solution, but also their background, reputation and experience. Ask for references in your RFP. Consider their stability and finances - many software vendors are just past 'startup mode' with scrappy teams that may not be fully established or offer software designed with few FM processes.
A successful RFP process
A luxury retailer recently went through the FM software RFP process with great success. The company's goals included:
- Simplifying semi-annual H&S inspection;
- Implementing real-time and historic analytics to replace a reporting system run on spreadsheets;
- Making it easier to initiate necessary work orders; and
- Accelerating the invoice review and approval process. The retailer's director of facilities collaborated with the company's CFO early on, providing data on current asset management and invoice processing costs to justify the need for the platform.
Aligning goals of finance and procurement, they settled on a budget and project timeline of eight to 14 months. They emphasised employee training and support.
They chose a solution that integrated with existing technology and provided a support team to help with changes to the FM program as the company expanded. Results after implementation include:
- Problem-resolution time reduced from 12.5 days to 1.5 days;
- The elimination of 95 per cent of critical issues identified between annual audit periods; and
- Invoice processing time reduced from 20 minutes per invoice to one minute, saving the FM team more than 1,000 hours a year.
Dough Ingraham is vice-president of product marketing at ServiceChannel