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RFP / System Selection

The consultants at GRAYBOX bring experience and deep knowledge the to the table to help your company plan, evaluate, and execute on software selection initiatives.

RFP Creation and Vendor Evaluation

System selection can feel daunting, but by leveraging a proven framework for establishing business needs and evaluating your options, GRAYBOX can help ensure you select the right tools for your business to setup your company for success.

Digital technology moves at an incredible pace. Not only are business processes, best practices, and capabilities evolving, but the tools that exist to service those evolving businesses are also moving at a full sprint. With the proliferation of Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings in the past 10 years, it's become easier than ever to have an idea for a software toolset, launch that toolset, and iterate on the product based on customer feedback. The upside to this newfound software velocity is that just about every business need you can imagine has a piece of software built specifically to address that need. In some cases there are dozens of tools. The downside, however, is that it's incredibly challenging to filter out the noise, and to separate the viable solutions from everything else. Arriving at the right solution is about more than just checking boxes on a form, or sitting through a sales demo. Instead, the process should start much further upstream, with a deep understanding of the business goals. The creation of a Request for Proposal (RFP), and the selection of an appropriate system to meet your business goals, are things that are derived from this exercise, not things that lead it.

System selection can be a daunting process. Especially when talking about ERP and CRM tools, the decisions are incredibly impactful. Apart from the cost of the software, the costs of implementation, and the opportunity costs of allocating your team's time to the project and away from their regular roles, software tools are often the lifeblood of the organization. An ERP is like the heart; a CRM is the lungs. Email marketing automation tools are the mouth and voice of the company. Your website is like your skin and clothes, the outward appearance the rest of the world sees. Adding one where nothing existed before, or replacing one for an existing business, are big, impactful decisions, and should be given the appropriate weight that type of decision imparts. There are two primary exercises that put a company on the right path to start this exercise: Setting the organizational strategy, and building an effective Request for Proposal (RFP).

Understanding where the business is headed is the key first step. While we may look at smaller tools with a more immediate frame of reference, larger systems for the business should be evaluated in two, four, and six year time horizons. Where is the business now, and how have we got here? How do we expect the business to change in the next 2/4/6 years? What goals are we trying to achieve, and what obstacles are currently in our way? How much do we expect our tools and system to flex to our business, versus how willing is our business to adapt to our selected tools? These are all foundational questions that help a business build a solid understanding of where they want to go, and build organizational alignment around those objectives. If everyone is paddling in the same direction, the project stands a much better chance of success.

With goals clear, a business can start the process of evaluating which tools are best suited to meet those goals. No system will be a 100% fit with every one of your business requirements. To ensure your company selects the best solution that most effectively meets the broadest cross section of your needs, the consultants at GRAYBOX will generally recommended the creation of an RFP. An RFP serves two purposes. First, it crystalizes the needs of the business, and articulates them at a level of granularity and clarity that the various teams in your company have a solid framework for evaluating success. Second, it communicates to the outside world the expectations of your company, so that potential candidate vendors have an unambiguous understanding of what you want to achieve. With this framework, a business can objectively evaluate multiple potential options, and select the choice that most effectively addresses the largest set of goals. Again, no system will meet 100% of your organizational goals, which highlights the importance of a framework for evaluating the best fit.

Determining which candidates to include in the evaluation can be an additional challenge. With potentially dozens of systems, each with varying degrees of overlap, goal fit, and goal gaps, relying on a trusted team of consultants to start your process off in the right direction is invaluable. The team at GRAYBOX lives in this world, and has their finger on the pulse of the market. Whether the tools have been on the market for decades, or have just launched to the public, understanding the needs of your business, the right vocabulary used in the industry, and being able to sift away the chuff and cut to the valuable data is a key role in the system selection exercise. GRAYBOX consultants are experts at understanding your needs, and helping guilde you down the path of pragmatic and effective solutions to accomplish your goals.

Define project success

Knowing the end goal is a critical first step in building a plan to get there. GRAYBOX works with your team to understand not just where your business is today, but the goals and challenges it will need to face in the coming years. Defining success criteria early becomes a keystone to project delivery success tomorrow. 

Effectively evaluate your options

The software sales process can feel like a parade of equivalent options, each effectively meeting your needs with no distinguishing factors. The consultants at GRAYBOX help you understand the nuance and difference between options. We poke, prod, and challenge assumptions on your behalf based on years of experience to ensure you can effectively distinguish the winners from the also-rans.

Setup your organization for success

System selection projects are often make-or-break for a company. GRAYBOX helps ensure your company is setup for success by guiding you through the process of defining your goals, getting the right voices in the room, and marching consistently toward the project success factors. 

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