HR RFP Creation: Solutions to Improve the Process

RFP Hell

RFP = Request for Proposal

RFI = Request for Information

RFQ = Request for Quote

So you want to create an RFP for your human resources (HR) project huh? Really? Why? I find it funny that so many companies are putting HR projects out for an RFP without a clear goal in mind. I mean, essentially they all have the same goal overall, don’t they…to get the best solution at the lowest possible cost. But, shouldn’t there be a higher objective? Shouldn’t the goal be to determine how each vendor matches up against the unique requirements of your organization? Shouldn’t there be at least one SPECIFIC goal that means something to your company?  What are you REALLY trying to accomplish? Certainly it isn’t to create more work for your team especially since HR teams are leaner than ever.


I’m seeing a LOT of regurgitated RFP’s these days.  And if not technically “regurgitated” they are general RFP templates that consultants have created for their customers that ask a lot of non-specific or general questions and may or may not be particularly relevant to your unique needs or requirements. And worse, these RFP’s rarely provide the vendor with the specific system information that will help them while responding to your RFP. Plain and simple, regurgitated RFP’s are shortcut in theory only. They are NEVER quite tailored enough and in the end, you’re left with something that truly doesn’t satisfy the objectives of YOUR organization.


My advice to get it right the first time is simple, take the time necessary to identify all the objectives upfront, provide vendors with all the relevant information and system specs so they can actually submit concise pricing that makes sense and doesn’t require a later scope of work. Another key is to make sure the right people are associated with the project from the inception. It’s great to have a CHRO or VP on the project, but you also need a cross-section of the end-users that will be doing the day-to-day work. Outside of that, here are a few time-proven suggestions to improve the process and save you a little time:


  • Have an established budget as well as a defined project: what are we trying to accomplish, why? How will we measure success?
  • Do preliminary research on potential vendor partners in the space.
  • Identify true and realistic system objectives and make them known in the RFP.
  • Identify which internal teams will benefit from the solution and get their key objectives/goals defined.
  • Identify the desired team members for the project and make sure these people understand that change is coming.
  • Get detailed technical specs from your IT team on the front end. Especially, if they aren’t going to be an ongoing part of the process.
  • Document the specs on all your current systems i.e. Internet Browsers, Operating systems, Email Client, HRMS, ATS, Payroll, Benefits, SSO, Telephony etc and include versions, potential interface points, language preferences, and ANY upcoming Implementations that may affect the project.
  • Know what your security concerns are. Where do you want your data stored?
  • How many HR users will need access? Is named or concurrent licensing a preference?
  • What is your preferred licensing term?
  • Will additional languages be required?
  • Ask what is included in implementation?
  • How will the vendor handle upgrades and ongoing maintenance?
  • When you start building your list of questions, make them clear, clean, and concise.
  • Provide case related questions/scenarios as necessary.
  • Provide REALISTIC time-frames and include several weeks cushion for delays, they WILL happen and mainly on your end.  When time-frames are exceeded, this affects both your organization and the vendors.
  • Publish the list of follow up questions and answers to the entire vendor pool.
  • Allow ample time for onsite demo, presentation and questions. You’ve gone this far you might as well finish the process right.
  • Provide the RFP in a friendly format so that vendors can actually reply easily.
  • Provide a very general non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for the protection of all parties.
  • Once you’ve narrowed it down to a short list, CHECK CLIENT REFERENCES.


Okay…as you can see, I’m kind of passionate about process improvement and efficiency, and not just because I’m responding to so many RFP’s. For me, it matters that you get the right solution and partner with the right company because I build my business on client referrals. If you’re not happy, I’m not getting recommendations or references from you. So, I would rather work smarter on the front end and provide the best solution to meet your needs at a fair price.  If you are inclined (or forced) to undertake the process, do yourself and your organization a favor and invest the time and resources to do it RIGHT.

If you a tip to add, feel free to share or comment here!


HR RFP Creation: Solutions to Improve the Process



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