Research, Content Management

5 Questions to Ask in the RFP Process

question marksA request for proposal (RFP) is your opportunity to tell vendors what specific requirements you are looking for in a product or service. If your institution needs a new web content management system (CMS), but you are unsure how to start the search and evaluation process, an RFP can be a great tool to connect you to the CMS that best meets your institution's needs.

Here's five questions to consider when drafting your RFP:

  1. Why are you changing? Start by identifying the core reasons you are looking for a change. What are the pain points you are trying to solve? For instance, does your current web content management process lack structure and workflow? Do you struggle with a publishing delay? Do you lack buy-in from your content contributors? It's important to identify all the existing issues ahead of time so that down the road you don't find yourself stuck in a similar situation.

  2. What are some must-haves for your new CMS? Once you've identified the major pain points, it's important to outline what you are looking for in a new CMS. You'll want to focus on features of the CMS like in-context editing, instant publishing, accessibility checks, and granular administration, as well as offerings like customer support and add-on capabilities. This is your opportunity to let CMS vendors know exactly what your institution is looking for. If multiple departments are going to work with the CMS, it's important to get input from those departments while crafting the RFP so there aren't any surprises deeper in the selection process. What web developers find essential in a CMS will differ from marketers, administrators, and end users. Collaborate to identify your institution's most critical CMS needs.

  3. What would be nice to have? You know you are in the market for a new CMS, you've identified the pain points you are experiencing with your current system, and you've outlined the essentials you are looking for in a new solution. Now it's time to think about what would be nice to have. Think long term. Though you may not be ready to invest in all the bells and whistles today, you'll want to keep in mind possibilities for the future. For instance, is an online course catalog on your wish list? Or how about an enhanced search tool and faculty directory? Know what your options are and what will integrate with the new CMS, so you'll be set up for success when the time comes.

  4. What resources are available to you? Do you have a large web team, or are you a one-person department? Do you have technical help, should issues arise? What about training on your new CMS? It's important to know what internal resources you have at your disposal to help you identify what you will need from your CMS provider and what will best be able to support your institution.

  5. What's your budget? It would be a waste of time (and a big disappointment!) to select a CMS, only to find out you can't afford it. Be sure you know exactly what your budget looks like before you dive into the evaluation process. Think long term here as well. What recurring costs can you expect that need to be factored into the budget?

Finding a new CMS can be time and resource intensive, but doing the work upfront will pay dividends. Devoting time and effort during the RFP process will help make the entire selection process run smoother, and more importantly, will set your institution up for success over the long haul.

For more information, including a sample needs assessment and typical areas of overspending that can occur, check out our CMS Evaluation Guide.

Download Free CMS Evaluation Guide

Share this article:

Court Campion

Director of Marketing

Court has over a decade of award-winning digital marketing, creative management, social media, and strategic ideation expertise and has worked with small to global agencies and large celebrity brands. He understands the needs of the information age and attacks problems from unseen angles to deliver results that matter. When he isn’t online, he spends his time devouring media and curating his growing art collection.