How to Write an RFP for Facility Management Software
You’re serious about purchasing facilities management software. You’ve done your homework. You’ve researched solutions, watched demos, and met with salespeople. You’ve narrowed the playing field to your top vendors. Now it’s time to send out a Request for Proposal (RFP).
As a software vendor ourselves, we’ve seen plenty of RFPs over the years. So we’re going to share 3 best practices for building a great request.
Plus, we’ve created an easy-to-use facility management software RFP template that includes the critical requirements an exceptional FM software should contain.
By issuing a strong request for a proposal you can kickstart the procurement process and be on your way to better facilities management.
3 Tips for Writing an RFP for Facility Management Software
1. Identify the pain points a new software needs to solve
Ask yourself: what are the things I need my FM software to do that my current solution isn’t delivering?
- Inaccurate space data (or no space data at all) on facilities and assets
- Absence of a work order system or preventive maintenance scheduling system
- Ineffective means of communication among building teams
- Missing a designated portal for occupant service requests
- Inability to oversee and coordinate multiple sites
- Little to no reporting on organizational facility operations
- Lack of tools for organizational capital planning
- No way to track inspections and confirm compliance
- Overly complicated or unwieldy processes
- Inability to set and track KPIs
After you identify your pain points, prioritize them by how critical each one is to your operation. This not only helps software vendors understand what’s most important to you, it also serves as a benchmark for evaluating RFP responses.
2. Develop an outline for your RFP
If the thought of writing out a huge RFP all at once makes you break out in a cold sweat, start with a basic outline. Once you have all the core components of the RFP down on paper in outline form, you can go back through to flesh out any areas needing more detail.
An RFP for FM software should include:
Information about your company
- Listing of your buildings
- Square footage of each building
- General overview of what types of assets you have
- Number of locations
- Number of employees
The more information you provide about your company, the better and more specific the responses will be.
The functional requirements you expect from the software
List out what your facilities team needs the software to do (work order management, asset management, service request portal, etc.). Hint: Refer to your list of pain points for help.
What does your company’s IT department require of any enterprise software? For example: Does it have to be a web-based application? Should it be compliant with single sign-on?
Find out what your partnership with this vendor will be like. Potential questions to include could be:
- What is the onboarding process?
- How are users trained on the software?
- What does post-onboarding support look like?
- What is the process for asking questions/requesting help after onboarding?
- Who will be my main contact at the vendor when we have questions?
- What qualifications/experience does the vendor team have?
Let the vendor know exactly how you’ll be judging their RFP response. Remember that list of prioritized pain points you created? That can become the basis of your evaluation criteria.
List out your criteria in order of importance or assign each one a percentage or points. This makes it clear to the vendor what’s most crucial to you.
Example weighted evaluation criteria:
- Software features, capabilities, and implementation – 45 points
- Cost – 30 points
- Supplier support, responsiveness, and expertise – 25 points
Another approach you could take is to provide a checklist. Some RFPs we’ve seen include a spreadsheet list of all criteria that the vendor can check “yes” or “no” to. Once you receive all your responses, you can compare the checklists for an at-a-glance understanding of their differences.
3. Establish ground rules for submissions
Now that you have an RFP, you need to put parameters around the submission. One of the most important is a detailed timeline with milestones.
- Deadline for submission – a standard response time is 30 days
- Deadline for vendor to submit questions – typically by the end of the first week
- Date when answers will be provided to vendors – typically by the end of the second week
Additional guidelines to consider including:
- Would you prefer paper or electronic submissions?
- Do you want client references? How many?
How to Evaluate Vendor RFP Responses
In a nutshell, it all comes down to how each vendor addresses your most critical pain points. As part of putting together your RFP, you’ve already created a prioritized list of your main criteria for a facilities management software. That list will continue to serve you now as a yardstick for measuring how close each RFP response is to your ideal.
Is your organization more concerned with the software features and capabilities? Or are you more price-driven? Knowing this will help you begin to rank the responses.
Of course, not all software is created equal – so be prepared to compare apples and oranges. One software might cost more, but it has all the functionality you want. Another software could be 10K less, but it’s missing 4 of the 10 things you want it to do. Some vendors may provide everything you need, but they’re missing a really cool nice-to-have feature that a different software contains.
In the end, it’s about selecting a software solution that comes as close as possible to what you want for functionality, vendor support, cost, etc.
Finally, as you review your RFP responses, remember these two things. First, it can be a huge advantage to you if a software vendor partners with data collection firms. These data collection specialists help pull together your facility data within a short timeline (we recommend 90 days or less) and provide it to you already loaded into the facility software as a turnkey solution.
Second, look for software vendors with a transformational mindset – companies focused on continuously improving and transforming facilities management. If you want a long-term FM solution, look for software that doesn’t simply digitize or automate existing processes (though that can be very helpful in the short term). Sure, these solutions move you from paper into the digital world. But the processes themselves are still the same way they’ve always been done.
Transformational software, on the other hand, uses the latest technology to improve every aspect of facilities management. That’s the approach we take at AkitaBox.
A transformative mindset leads to innovations such:
- Creating floor plan-based asset location maps
- Adding asset photos and condition notes in real time while onsite
- Capturing asset information from photos using text recognition
Curious to know more about transformation in facilities management? We’d love to show you what the future of FM looks like.