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Our Guide to an Effective IT Managed Service part 3

When you initiate an RFP for your IT Managed Service, you have one goal in mind; to find a provider whose service, approach, performance and price meet your requirements.

Planning your RFP effectively can not only speed up the decision-making process, but will also ensure the service provider meets the above prerequisites.

You may already have a long or shortlist of potential suppliers in mind and have an idea of who you would like to select. The RFP process may validate your thoughts, but may also identify a provider you hadn’t considered. Following the process is the perfect way to identify a contender and who will deliver above and beyond your expectations. Whatever the outcome, a high-quality RFP will ensure you end up with a high-quality service.

Step 1 – Discovery

You’ve assembled your team who will create and review the RFP. You have demonstrated the requirement when building your business case. In the discovery phase, you will review your current service against business objectives and your aspirations for the future state.

The first task is to create a realistic and measurable timeline for the process.

  • Create timeline
  • Review data and objectives
  • Confirm scope
  • Establish supplier longlist
  • Develop RFP template
  • Provide sample contract MSA

Step 2 – Market Sounding

A well-run market sounding exercise provides the opportunity for dialogue between potential suppliers ahead of the RFPs release. This not only tests the viability of your requirements and service levels but also helps define your RFP and fosters healthy competition. Your longlist of suppliers should be invited to participate in these sessions to allow you to evaluate how you might work together; do they share your values? do they have your best interests at heart? where have they delivered this level of service before? The end objective is to select four shortlisted suppliers.

  • Conduct market sounding sessions
  • Evaluate – select four shortlist suppliers as RFP recipients
  • Notify shortlist suppliers

Step 3 – RFP Process

To support your shortlisted suppliers in submitting the best possible responses, you should provide as much background information as possible. Make sure the RFP reflects how you operate as a

business and your culture. Ensure the RFP has fully captured your requirements and sets out your terms and conditions for acceptance, delivery, payment and any regulatory requirements. Where appropriate, set out your expectations for the new service and ask suppliers how they will facilitate continuous service improvement. Provide your shortlist with enough time to seek clarification to questions, but do set a deadline. Once questions have been submitted and answered, document them and make them available to your shortlist. This will create a level playing field and a much better set of responses.

  • Review, shape and finalise the RFP/requirement document
  • Finalise RFP plan, key dates
  • Build communications plan and approach
  • Agree evaluation approach and scoring criteria
  • Engage legal re RFP approach and sample MSA
  • MSA development
  • Approve and issue RFP with set deadline for responses
  • Support suppliers RFP proposition development
  • Develop evaluation material and brief evaluators

Step 4 – Evaluation and Selection

Once responses are received, each response must be reviewed and evaluated against your requirements.

A pre-defined scoring system should be used with each element ranked according to requirement and priority. The results of the RFP evaluation will allow you to select two preferred suppliers. These two suppliers should then be invited to a workshop style presentation where the RFP team should have prepared questions based on the response document. These workshops allow you to clear up any uncertainty and validate any claims that seem too good to be true. The objective of the workshop is to select your preferred supplier.

  • Reading and review of responses
  • Complete RFP response evaluation
  • Facilitate suppliers’ presentation sessions
  • Refine evaluation scores and run evaluation workshop
  • Document results of selection process
  • Down-select to two preferred suppliers (maintains competitive edge)
  • Facilitate “preferred status” workshop
  • Select preferred supplier

Step 5 – Commercial Contract Negotiation

You have selected your supplier, you must now create the relevant commercial, legal and service level agreements.

  • Prepare Heads of Terms
  • Enter into period of exclusivity
  • Build MSA and schedules
  • Contract and commercial negotiation
  • Sign contracts
  • Enjoy your service