This post should help
those who are assessing a RFP response to a requirement for an IT solution in
any domain. The post is suitable for both product and services RFP. Towards the
end, I have also provided a short note on how Government RFP’s are analyzed.
Analyzing a RFP response is a complex task as it involves
functional assessment, technical assessment and commercial assessment. Even
before releasing a RFP for any IT solution, it is important to map the
functional requirements in details so that companies responding to the RFP can
clearly state whether their solution supports these functions. If it is a
product company, then the fulfillment can be either as ‘Readily Available’, ‘Achieved
by configuration’, ‘Achieved by customization’ or ‘Not available’ at all. These
inputs can be filtered and an assessment can be done for the 4 parameters. This
will give a clear idea on the functionality coverage. If there are any points
that the accessor is not clear then the same can be queried back to the company
that is providing the solution. This is followed by a demo of the solution
wherein some specific use cases are shown by the solution provider.
Incase of a grounds-up development project, the functionality
mapping can be done by explaining how the functionality will be supported. If
any functionality is not available then the same can be developed and effort
costs will be applied. The overall functionality coverage and the cost thereof
will help the analyst to derive the overall value of the solution to the company
over a period of atleast 5 years or more.
The next stage of assessment after the functional mapping is the
technical analysis. Since companies are moving their IT infrastructure to the
cloud, the licensing model of selling software products is slowly becoming
passé as companies are cutting down on costs. It was only a couple of days back
when I was assessing a RFP response from 3 different companies that we found a
difference of atleast 50% between the company that is providing a license model
with inhouse servers and the one which is providing a user based subscription
revenue with functionality options with the solution hosted on the solution
providers servers. However, there is a BIG factor that needs to be analyzed.
If you are a large company, the functionality required will be
complex. Therefore, cost should not be the key determinant when you are
analyzing a solution. The requirements of large companies may not fit into a
cloud solution where there is a limited scope of configuration and customization.
Such companies may need to customize the solution to fit their specific
requirements. In such a scenario, licensed solutions with inhouse deployment
still looks a better option than subscription models. Larger companies may also
have more rigid guidelines related to their IT infrastructure and security
which are difficult to fulfill in a cloud model. If it is a grounds-up development, the
service provider may use some existing libraries that can help to quickly make
the solution ready. Large companies can also look at this option.
The commercial aspects of the solution is clearly a very important
factor while analyzing the solution. Generally cloud providers offer the core components
at a fixed monthly subscription and you can opt for additional features that
are added to the monthly subscription. Apart from the subscription cost, there
is a initial cost for configuration, deployment and integration. All these
added up should give you an idea of the overall costs for the next 5 years.
For a licensing model, the cost components are the license cost,
implementation costs and costs related to customization and interfaces. It is
noticed that in case of large companies following the licensing model, the cost
of the solution increases by almost 40-50%.
The tech stack required for deployment of an inhouse solution will
depend on the processing requirements of the solution that includes data
volumes (database), app server requirements, OS requirements etc. Generally, it
would be a 6 core CPU with RAM and disk space to match requirements. However,
if you deploy a subscription based cloud solution there is no requirement of
any inhouse server. The system can be accessed on the end-user system.
The final assessment needs to be a very detailed one considering
all the factors mentioned above. It should give a clear snapshot to the
decision maker on which solution should best fit the requirements of the
If you have been doing federal government proposal writing
services, the assessment is done primarily on rates, experience, company
financials, fulfillment strategies, marketing strategies (in case if it is a
Master Services Contract), support for small and disadvantaged businesses etc.
It varies from one RFP to another but broadly these are the parameters on which
they assess the response. Similarly every RFP in every sector is analyzed as
per given set of parameters. When writing the RFP response the writer should
understand key aspects such as the documents that need to be provided, the key
winning factors (many RFP’s provide the percentage that they will assign to
each factor when judging the RFP).