Choosing Recruiting Software: To RFP or Not RFP? You Could Cause a Good Vendor to Bow Out

By Michael Brandt - BrightMove Recruiting Software

This is part 3 in a series of articles I am writing about selecting recruiting software. My goal is to give companies and staffing agencies the insight into the selection process the best way to navigate your way to a good selection. For this article, we are going to dive into the RFP process and why it may or may not be important for you to do an RFP.

What's an RFP?

For the record, RFP stands for Request for Proposal and most large scale software projects undoubtedly include an RFP or RFI (Request for Information) phase of the project. This is where a group of decision makers get together and build business requirements on what the ideal applicant tracking software package will consist of. Normally this includes, functional, technical, and in many cases legal requirements that must be met for any vendor to be considered.

Bad RFP's

First and foremost, bad RFP's are more common than you think. It is extremely important that if you are going to go through the RFP process that you try to do it right. I would highly recommend you bring in a consulting firm such as Elaine Orler with Talent Function ( or in outsourcing Paul Cevolani with Novus Origo ( to help you dive into the most common mistakes and needs companies have. These companies know recruiting and talent software like no other and they have more than likely seen just about anything you can throw at them. Bad RFP's happen when you don't know the right questions to ask and/or you have no idea what the common challenges are when it comes to your recruitment style and technology. These firms take a completely untainted look at your business and will provide direction without much of the emotion that you may or may not have into your particular needs. They also typically have a starting point and will ultimately save you thousands when you really look at it.

Is this you? I did an RFP but none of the more well known vendors responded? Do they not want my business?

That question is the exact reason I am writing this article. There are several reasons why a vendor would not respond to your RFP but more often than not, it is simply down to the numbers. Every vendor wants your business but if they can't recoup the cost of responding to the RFP the first year, they probably will not respond. Again, they want your business and you are likely missing out on some great vendors by asking a vendor to respond to an RFP if you are planning on a relatively low number of users. For the software vendor, the cost of responding could add up to more than the entire year's hosting feel. As an alternative option, ask the vendors for an RFP template of theirs. Most vendors have a pre-completed RFP they offer prospects. This template is usually designed to make sure they rate well but it is also a great tool for seeing a more complete statement of functionality for you to review. These templates will accentuate the strengths of each vendor. My biggest piece of advice is to scrap your RFP if you are not getting the leading vendors to respond.

Are you coming off of a paper based our outlook based recruiting process? Your RFP may need to reflect finding a system with a great startup configuration.

A big mistake that companies tend to make in the industry comes into play when organizations build large lists of requirements when taking their process off of paper. I personally believe, simple is critical when making such a big shift. More often than not, the requirements you have today and the requirements you have after you have been in a system for a year will be completely different and your best chance of long term success will be to go simple gather data and then spend the money on the detailed requirements. Keep your first iteration scope as high level as possible in order to automate your paper process.

Recruiting Software by RFP

RFP's are great for companies that generally know what they want. They help to ensure you articulate your requirements and then make a selection based on these criteria. When determining what you need up front, really think about how complex this needs to be rounds one and build from there. For larger companies, you in many cases will have to do an RFP. Remember several things when you do. Stable larger vendors tend to not innovate as fast but they in some cases represent a lower risk financially for a buyer. I would caution that there has been so much movement in this industry and stability isn't really a reality. With smaller vendors, you might find a great opportunity to find a company that wants to partner heavily with you because you are a VIP customer. That might be ideal for companies with rapid change can growth.

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