A 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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.