A Fundamental Guide to Creating a Data Services RFP

Creating a great RFP can save time and effort when evaluating potential partners. Ensure you are getting the best solution by including the right information and asking the right questions with our Fundamental Data Services RFP Guide.
February 3, 2023
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A Fundamental Guide to Creating a Data Services RFP - RFP Guide - Hakkoda

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a useful tool for organizations trying to learn more about a product or service and if that product or service is the right fit. For example, if you are looking to move to a Cloud Data Warehouse, you would issue an RFP that outlines what you are looking for and and what you are hoping to achieve. This is where an RFP plays a crucial role in the sales cycle. It allows you to evaluate multiple solutions and partners, including if that partner provides training and onboarding, security, IT support, and anything else important to your project. 

But where do you start? Figuring out what to include (and not include) in an RFP can be daunting. In this guide, we will look at what information should be requested and what steps to take when composing a Data Services RFP. 

What to Include in your RFP Guide

Your RFP should be clear and concise. Giving your potential partner a firm understanding of what your needs and wants are, along with expectations, will save a lot of back and forth. It will also present you with the best set of solutions for your organization. 

The basic layout for a Data Services RFP should include the following:

Project Overview

The first step is to define your project, scope and budget. This will help potential partners decide if the project is in their wheelhouse and worth bidding on. Be sure to lay out possible roadblocks or issues your potential partner could be facing. Some of these issues may be outdated software, limited resources or budget constraints.

Background and Introductory Information

Keep this short and simple. Give partners an idea of who you are as an organization, what your company does, and your target market. Be sure to include your company goals and the challenges you are facing.  For organizations looking for a modern data services firm that can help connect complex cloud technologies with industry relevant software, composing a precise and thorough RFP is especially important. If your organization is transitioning to the Snowflake Data Cloud and will require a services partner with SnowPro certified engineers and expertise deploying Alation data governance software, include that detail early in your RFP. 

Project Goals

Layout the services you are looking for in relation to your goals. Identify what you are hoping to achieve with this project, including what a “win” would look like to you. Tell potential partners what matters most to your project in terms of budget, timeline or solutions. 

Partner Requirements

Use this section if you have specific technical requirements that potential partners will need to meet, i.e., the ability to work on or integrate with certain systems. Today, data services RFPs are almost guaranteed to include a variety of technologies that you’ll want your SI partner to be able to expertly deploy. Take a moment to evaluate your total tech stack and what software and tools your partner should be expected to work with. When selecting your final data services provider, prioritize the company that offers an expert team with genuine insight and experience in your industry. You may not know all the technical details of your data innovation journey yet, but your services partner should be able to act as a guide, pointing you toward the best technology for your goals and implementing unique integrations with ease. 

Selection Criteria and Timeline

Be specific about how you will select the solution and partner. Highlight the evaluation criteria that is most important to your project, such as:

  • Pricing
  • Qualifications and skills, such as partnerships and certifications
  • Experience with similar projects and references
  • Project approach

Give vendors your anticipated timeline by including the following:

  • RFP submittal date 
  • Bidder questions submittal date and response to questions date
  • Date for final partner selection 
  • Your target start-to-finish project timeline 

Submittal Requirements

Detail how you would like potential partners to submit their RFP responses. Include how to submit (through a portal or via email to a specific team member) and what form you would like the proposal sent in (i.e. Word doc, PDF, Excel, or via an RFP management software). Specify if you require any supplemental information or documentation in a separate document. 

Partner Questions

This section should layout the specific questions you have for potential partners on the proposed solution, including but not limited to the following areas:

  • Company information
  • Understanding of the project or a brief introductions
  • Methodology
  • Deliverables
  • Project team members
  • Change management
  • Pricing 
  • Project milestones and timeline
  • References

Try to avoid “Yes” or “No” questions, when possible. Asking specific questions allows your potential partner to provide detailed, thought out answers — showcasing who they are and how they do things.  

Point of Contact

Give your point of contact for RFP questions and clarifications. This might also be the person who RFP responses are submitted to. Be clear about what this point of contact is responsible for in the RFP process. 

Steps to Writing an Effective RFP Guide

  • Build your project team

Collaborate with stakeholders and key players from the beginning. Anyone involved in making key decisions on the project or involved in the procurement process should have a say in what is included in your RFP. This will ensure a smooth RFP process and limit back and forth with potential partners. 

  • Customize your RFP

While there are standard RFP templates out there that can be used, or previous RFPs that may have been written for different projects, take the time to customize your RFP to the new project. Don’t waste your time and the time of your potential partners by asking irrelevant questions or including sections that aren’t applicable to the current project.

  • Proofread and proofread again

Make sure all of your information is clear, concise and up to date. Mistakes can cause confusion and delay the process. 

  • Go live

Do your research and send your RFP out to potential partners who are the best fit for the job. Just don’t narrow your list down too much. By opening the project up to a variety of partners, you can gain insight into solutions you may not have considered. 

The Hakkoda Experience

RFPs are a necessary step when evaluating potential partners and solutions. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Using this guide ensures you are creating a comprehensive RFP that will enable potential partners to provide clear solutions and key information to help make your final selection.

At Hakkoda, we take great care in understanding our clients’ needs and pain points in order to offer the best possible solution. The RFP is a pivotal part of our process, and helps guarantee success and satisfaction from start to finish. Click below to contact us and get started on what we can do for your organization.

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