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What is RFP software?
RFP (request for proposal) software helps businesses streamline the process of generating, distributing, receiving, and evaluating proposals. These systems allow sales teams to create, collaborate, and submit bids and proposals to both internal and external stakeholders.
RFP software lets users share business requirements with suppliers, and evaluate all received proposals and select favorable ones.
The benefits of RFP software
- Consolidation of information: Receiving hard copies of proposals can be laborious and messy due to the influx of various documents (e.g., product descriptions, specification sheets, terms and conditions, etc.). Keeping track of this information only gets harder as the number of vendors increases. RFP software organizes and manages this cascade of information digitally in a single location, offering easy accessibility to relevant stakeholders.
- Improved selection process with multi-factor evaluation system: Screening proposals to evaluate suitability is a multi-checkpoint process. RFP software tools allow users to quickly evaluate factors such as bid value, supplier credibility, location, and delivery time to shortlist bids and identify the best proposals.
- Saves time on review and validation: Businesses can’t afford to spend too much time forwarding proposals along and compiling feedback from each stakeholder during the review process. RFP software brings everyone involved into a single platform where they can review, comment, accept/reject, or even send proposals back for revisions, shortening the overall procurement timeline.
Typical features of RFP software
- Progress tracking: Track proposal status and generate reports that provide measurable insights.
- Workflow management: Create automated workflows to streamline proposal creation, assessment, and submission.
- Templates: Leverage ready-to-use and customizable templates for RFP requests and/or responses.
- Collaboration: Users can work together on proposals to speed up the submission, screening, and evaluation process.
- Data import/export: Pull data required to create proposals from integrated applications and distribute final proposals in various formats.
Considerations when purchasing RFP software
- Issuing vs. requesting RFP: RFP software is a collective term used on both ends of the supply chain—for issuing RFPs (on the buyer’s side) and for responding to RFPs (on the seller’s side). While both processes may sound similar, each requires different tools, templates, and functionalities, and not all RFP software supports both ends of the RFP process. Be sure to evaluate your shortlisted RFP solutions to ensure they include the specific features your business needs.
- Product testing: RFP documents need to go through a chain of command before they are finalized; the stakeholders along your chain may not have equal IT expertise. To ensure that the RFP software you choose can be easily used by all stakeholders, have users help you test/demo shortlisted solutions and gather their feedback before making a final purchase.
- Availability of industry-specific templates: Different industries use different templates when creating, sharing, and requesting proposals. If your industry has/uses preferred templates, be sure your shortlisted RFP solutions include those template offerings.
Relevant RFP software trends
- Automation will enhance RFP software capabilities: RFP software providers have now started offering automation capabilities within their solutions to help procurement teams evaluate thousands of proposals against a number of conditions in a shorter timespan with greater accuracy. Through features such as autofill, rule-based scoring, weighted scoring, and structured decisions, creating and scoring proposals is becoming easier for RFP software users.
- Integration capabilities of RFP tools expected to grow: Clustered business processes are becoming increasingly dependent on each other. This necessitates that the tools supporting individual processes interface between themselves. In the case of an RFP, there are several adjacent functions such as contract management, billing and invoicing, and order procurement that need to be sewn cohesively. Responding to such demands, RFP tools now offer integration with related solutions; as more adjacencies arise, integration capabilities will proliferate.