May 07, 2019

May 7, 2019 | Kurt Moydell | Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing

As a third-party vendor for Oracle and SAP support, we receive and review multiple Requests for Proposals (RFP) each week from potential client’s procurement departments. Given the number of RFPs we’ve responded to over the years, we’ve developed a solid understanding of what organizations need to ask to make an informed decision.

For sure, no RFP ever has the same questions, so it’s worth sharing first about the variety of inquiries we receive and what we find most helpful in providing a timely response.

Questions You Should Be Asking

Occasionally, we receive an RFP that’s missing what we believe are critical questions. These questions are important because they can help identify important differences among vendors. This is especially true when the answers are not readily available.

To help you submit the best possible RFP, we’ve assembled the top 20 questions you should ask when beginning your RFP process for third-party Oracle and SAP software support. 

The questions below can help you get to the heart of how vendors operate and what kind of service you should expect from them. The questions are grouped into broad categories, including staffing, support response, services, security, compliance, onboarding, contracts, and reputation.

Sample RFP questions to ask vendors during the RFP process

STAFFING

  1. Is your 24×7 support staffed by regionally based support teams in North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East, APAC North, APAC South? Can you describe your global support model in detail? (The answer to this question speaks to vendors’ familiarity not only with your technology, but also with how it’s typically used in your region and country. This is especially important in heavily regulated industries, e.g., banking.)

  2. Do you assign by name all members of the team we will work with or are reported issues handle by a resource pool? (A dedicated team will develop familiarity with you specific organization and systems over time. Moreover, working with individuals with whom you’ve built relationships and who know your systems is more productive and less time-consuming than starting from scratch every time.)

  3. Can you describe the tenure and retention rates of employees? (This is vital information to get a sense of the vendors’ employees’ experience levels and expertise.)

  4. What spoken/written languages do you support? (Critically important for multinational/global organizations.)

SUPPORT RESPONSE

  1. How quickly do you respond to reported issues by a support resource qualified to resolve the issue? (Time is money!)

  2. What is your escalation process? (Support issues require varying levels of expertise. It’s important that your support provider understands this and have an escalation process in place to minimize downtime.)

SERVICES

  1. Can you provide and commit to bug/break fixes

  2. Can you provide and commit to support for customizations? (Not all vendors offer support for customizations, including Oracle itself. If your vendor refuses to support for customizations, you’ll be on your own whenever you have a support issue with any part of your software that uses customized code.)

  3. Can you provide and commit to legal, regulatory, and tax updates? (Not all vendors provide legal, regulatory, and tax updates, which can be critically important, depending on your industry.)

  4. Can you provide and commit to fixes required for integration into upgraded infrastructure? (When it comes time to upgrade your software, you need to know that your support provider will help integrate your existing data and customizations into the upgrade.)

  5. Can you provide and commit to advice for improvements? (This is where experience can make a huge difference. Experienced techs will know what works in various industries and applications and can share that knowledge with you.)

  6. Do you offer extended services if we have additional projects or application needs beyond the standard support contract? (Despite the most rigorous planning, something unplanned and unexpected can and will happen.)

SECURITY

  1. Can you describe your security and vulnerability protection solution? (Security is more important than ever before, and the range of existing threats will only continue to increase. Therefore, the importance of robust security capabilities is paramount.)

  2. What is your plan for regular security patches/fixes and updates?

COMPLIANCE

  1. Can you list your certifications and accreditations? (Software changes constantly. Up-to-date certifications and accreditations demonstrate the vendor’s commitment to keep up with the latest developments.)

  2. How does your company address quality issues and complaints?

ONBOARDING

  1. Can you describe your onboarding and archiving process?

CONTRACTS

  1. What are your typical contractual terms and conditions? How flexible are they should our business conditions change?

REPUTATION

  1. Can we gain access to your financial statements to validate revenue, balance sheet health, etc.?

  2. Is your company the subject of any litigation for the services described as in scope?

You can also download a spreadsheet version of the table below. 

Categories of RFP Questions

We find that the typical RFP questions are shared amongst all the types. If you categorize the RFP questions, the primary areas of focus (with examples) include:

  • General company information – locations, resources, compliance
  • Service information – service coverage, data handling, response SLAs, staffing, onboarding
  • Security services – patching, examples, software tools
  • For ERPs, global tax, legal & regulatory – processes, jurisdictions
  • Account management services – staffing, reviews, communication
  • Costs and inclusions – contract terms, what’s included standard in fees, additional costs
  • Reputation – past litigation, financial stability, reviews, references

RFP, RFI, or RFQ?

Although we’re specifically talking about an RFP questionnaire here, it’s worth noting that the type of documentation we receive depends entirely on the process of the organization sending it. 

For example, for some governmental organizations, we often receive a Request for Information (RFI) first. An RFI generally has less specific questions and is more focused on exploring the general capabilities of unknown vendors in a new market. Organizations tend to use RFIs as a way to demonstrate that they are attempting to complete a fair and equitable search.

We also receive Requests for Quotes (RFQs) from certain enterprises, either as a starting request or as a follow-up from an accepted RFP. RFQs generally cut right to the question of cost, and we assume that these businesses already understand the market and may be focused on just one or two vendors. This approach may also be the standard process of the customer’s procurement or sourcing department.

Approximately 40% of what we receive is RFIs and RFQs. We treat all request types with equal importance and urgency.

Your Next Steps 

The 20 questions above are, of course, simply a starting point. There’s no standard RFP questions template or RFP questionnaire that we know of, and you will likely have additional questions based on industry, application, region, service requirements, pricing, and more.  

If you’d like to see our answers to these questions, or other sample RFP questions you might want to ask, contact us today.