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Selection guide

Create the Initial RFPs

Some companies send out long RFPs with qualitative rather than quantitative questions to an extensive list of vendors. There are two problems with this approach.

The solution is first send out a mini-RFP, which most vendors will complete. Figure out exactly what you want and take the time to describe it in detail. This document should ask your top 10 questions, be available in document and online format, and take 20 minutes or less to complete. Although the exact questions would depend on your needs, they should include:

You can eliminate Contract Management vendors that do not respond in a reasonable amount of time and based on the responses you receive from the remainder, narrow down the vendor list to three to five. Tell these companies that they have made the short list and send them complete follow-up RFPs. Since these vendors will know that they have about a 25% shot of earning your business, they will likely respond.

Make sure that the questions in this follow-up RFP are probing and quantitative. For example, instead of just stating, «The system must allow the creation of custom tables, » ask quantitative questions such as the example below. As you will see, the exact answers can make a huge difference in terms of timing and cost.

If you are unsure which questions to ask to compare Contract Management software systems, contact the vendors. Say to them: «I am pleased that you support feature X. What should I ask your competitors? I am trying to determine how fully the vendors that I am considering support this feature and whether there are any limitations or additional costs associated with its implementation. » What they tell you will expose weaknesses among their competitors and, possibly, themselves.

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