After you’ve invested time to really understand your specified requirements (and documented them internally), you should consider truly opening up the RFP – make it a real Request For Proposal (i.e., "show me what you can do"). This contrasts with a Request For Quotation (locked-down specs, just give me your price, etc.) by another name.
Here are a few lines of inquiry that I rarely saw in RFPs but that I think can be of tremendous value to successful adoption, ongoing learning and innovation for procurement tools:
Describe the type of organization that is an ideal user of your solution:
- Procedural/bureaucratic vs. collaborative/flat
- Category management centric
- Centers of excellence or shared services
- Multi-ERP integration need
- Broadly deployed vs. used only by small group of sourcing specialists
- Global footprint
- Languages used
What is the solution built around - what was the genesis?
This is a general UI feel question. Try to convey the design use case, to help users assess how well the solution is built for their company's business or vertical. It is difficult to design one solution that works equally well for direct, indirect, and capital expenditures not to mention flat organizations (e.g., consulting firms), hierarchical bureaucratic organizations, small and large teams, local and global, etc. One size rarely fits all - and all solutions began with the first client!
Does the solution have a knowledge repository for buyers – with category insights, event tactics, reverse auction strategies, spend analytics advice, effective questions, TCO events, etc.? How much is needed depends on the organization and its other IT investments – but this is an area that can help make a solution hugely successful.
It's our opinion that broadly deployed sourcing solutions need integrated supplier management (comprising SIM/SLM/SPM) functionality to go beyond limited volume, expert use. Supplier management is defined as functionality that captures any content that might be gathered in an RFI activity - onboarding, capabilities, surveys, scorecards etc. - ideally with sourcing, contracts and other content linked to the vendor record in question. Done to its full potential, this leads to MDM.
What is the company’s attitude toward users, collaboration, sharing, development participation? Is there a user conference? If so, what type (upsell or learning centered)? This area speaks volumes about the kind of relationship you will get – and you need to view this as strategic.
Does the provider develop cross-client benchmarks – aka meta data – shared category templates, or other value-add that can only be attained from the middleman position?
An interesting approach to drive corporate SMWBE (Small, Woman, Minority, Business Enterprises) programs. Does the solution support suppliers subcontracting inside events (to meet content or subcontracting needs)? This is particularly useful for complying with federal procurement requirements.