Choosing a software provider or vendor for a specific product or service isn’t as simple as Google searching the top five providers in the space, looking at pricing, deciding who is the right fit, and making the purchase. In fact, this search process can be overwhelming for many organizations due to the amount of research and compliance with established procedures required. As a result, large brands, or those with strict regulations such as government agencies, often formalize the search process by utilizing what's known as a “request-for-proposal” document, or RFP.
There can be a lot of time and energy wasted in the search process if it isn’t managed effectively. Many teams experience “analysis paralysis” because they collect so much information that the pros and cons of each vendor are unclear and difficult to differentiate. This is particularly true for organizations searching for a suitable digital asset management (DAM) platform who don’t know how to analyze the information they collect.
Because of this, Stacks helps brands of all shapes, sizes, and digital asset management requirements manage their RFP process for a new DAM platform. In this article, we share some guidelines to help you manage a DAM RFP effectively.
The DAM RFP Process
The beauty of an RFP is that, rather than you having to do the research, fact-finding, and note-taking yourself, potential vendors give you all of the information you want or need. The RFP process, no matter the vendor category, is usually broken down into the four distinct sections listed below.
Thorough strategic planning up front often saves time and money further down the line. RFPs are no exception to this rule. The first step in the planning phase is to assemble your “review board.” These are the people who will develop the RFP and evaluate the vendors who respond. When it comes to a DAM RFP, we recommend that this team be comprised of core stakeholders to the DAM program, a few DAM end-users, and someone with budget and decision-making power. Roles and responsibilities should be established for both the RFP and the future DAM program. Use this planning time not just for the RFP, but also to start setting the foundation for a healthy DAM program.
Once your review board is in place, planning can truly begin. Now it's time to identify your unique DAM requirements (learn more about this here), determine your budget, establish a timeline for the RFP process, decide what criteria you’ll use to evaluate platforms and make a decision, and establish a schedule for platform implementation and onboarding.
2. RFP Development
Once you have the details finalized, you can draft the formal RFP document. At a high level, this document should tell potential vendors what you’re looking for in terms of products and services, costs, timeline, and scope. Most RFPs include the following sections:
- Introduction - Why are you interested in a new DAM platform? What are the core needs this platform would fulfill and how will it be used in the short and long term? Be sure to include relevant background information regarding the teams that will be using the platform, what kind of assets will be housed in it, what major processes it will facilitate, and the core digital asset management use cases it must be able to address.
- Scope of Work - What are you looking to buy? How many seats will you need? How much storage? Do you need consulting, implementation, or DAM management support from the vendor or one of the vendor’s partners? What line items are you expecting to see?
- Budget - What is the range or maximum price that line items should add up to? This information, along with the scope of work, will help potential vendors know whether or not they would be a good fit for you. This keeps your team from having to evaluate platforms that won’t serve your needs.
- Contract Terms and Conditions - Ascertain what requirements your legal and procurement teams have for contracts and billing before Statements of Work (SOWs) are submitted. This is key to keeping your decision-making and implementation processes on schedule.
- Evaluation Timeline - When can vendors expect to hear back from you? What lines of communication should they expect to be open throughout the process? Should they follow up with you, and, if so, how often? Will there be multiple rounds of evaluation? If they win the bid, when can they expect to have a signed contract?
- Proposal Requirements - What information do you need from each vendor and how should it be formatted to make it easy for your team to evaluate and sort through? If you’re expecting a lot of submissions, we recommend either a spreadsheet or setting up a form through Google or Typeform for them to work through and submit so you can easily compare submissions.
3. “Issuing” the RFP
You can officially issue your RFP to vendors either by announcing it publicly on PR channels, social media, and your website or by going directly to vendors you're interested in working with and asking them to submit a proposal.
One of the benefits of utilizing the RFP process is that vendors will send you all the information you need in the format you want it in. Another is that vendors may opt out of bidding if they aren’t able to meet your requirements, budget, etc. This saves you time and effort and makes it easier to make a choice.
4. Evaluation & Decision
Once you've collected all your RFPs, work with your review board to assess them based on the criteria you’ve already developed. Using the same rubric for scoring and grading each proposal is vital to a successful evaluation. If this process is subjective rather than objective, it makes it nearly impossible to reach a decision that most of the team can agree on.
This phase of the RFP process is often the most difficult for teams to manage since it requires a trained eye to see through corporate jargon and technical DAM language to understand if a vendor can really meet your needs and expectations. For this reason, many brands outsource some components of their evaluation process to DAM consultants like Stacks, bringing them in as an advocate for their team with DAM expertise and experience on many platforms. This allows them to make a decision quickly and confidently.
Having done the planning work up front, your team can jump right into building the platform and incorporating it into your overall DAM workflow. If you're implementing your first platform, you can use this time to build DAM processes and workflows alongside the technology, thus facilitating a scalable and seamless transition for your team.
If you're considering issuing a DAM RFP, contact Stacks today! We help teams understand and organize their unique DAM requirements to save time, money, and headaches down the road.