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Untangling RFP Speak February 15, 2013

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Microsoft CRM, Sales Management.
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Is it really “Out of the Box” and Untangling RFP Speak

Often one has to respond to a RFP for a CRM system which may well have been written for your customer by an outside consultant and it may contain many hundreds of one-line items each representing a business or functional requirement of the new CRM system that is envisaged. Hidden within these entries can lurk what seem benign requirements which in fact harbour tricky and costly functionality which may get missed in your initial assessment of the complexity of the project.

For example the requirement may be phrased as such, “The CRM system must be able to record phone calls”. Now a respondent to the RFP may look at this and interpret it as the CRM system having a place where a user can record information about phone calls that have been made or received, and may just mark this one item as OOB (Out of the box) in the response on the RFP. However the customer might have meant the word ‘record’ in the literal sense of a voice recording. Now most CRM systems can handle this requirement, however it is generally not out of the box functionality and requires a level of integration to a telephony product.

I have seen RFP’s with hundreds of pages giving respondents limited time to respond, however if your assessment for this one item is assumed to be OOB functionality and subsequently when you get to the analysis stage and discover that record means record, this can be a difficult spot in which to find yourself with limited wriggle room.

My advice is to validate as much as you can, make the most out of any question time you may have and never take any single requirement for granted.

This is blog number 3 in the series “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

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