How to Create an HCM RFP that Gets a Response

Sep 29, 2016


Many RFPs end up in a trash can. For vendors, responding to an RFP is a time-consuming process, and seasoned professionals in the business will reject those that don’t look like a real opportunity. To get responses from quality providers, you will need to prepare well.

Here are more ways to get vendors to ignore your request:

  • Pages of legal mumbo-jumbo that have nothing to do with satisfying your requirements.
  • You haven’t explained your business and how you operate.
  • Hundreds of finely detailed requirements. Use only enough detail to define your needs.
  • Being a Stranger. Receiving an RFP from a company you don’t know is like getting a cold call from a pesky sales rep.
  • They think you know whom you want to hire but you must go through a pro-forma RFP process.

The way to avoid these traps is to place your RFP at the right point. Starting a relationship with an RFP is like walking up to a stranger and proposing marriage. An RFP should come much later in the journey.

How to Prepare to Write an RFP

The quality of your RFP will depend on how well you prepare, and most of the work you will do comes before you launch your request. Consider these four steps in your preparation.

  1. Assess your needs. Assemble your team and begin by exploring the pain points that prompted you to launch your initiative. Assess your needs in relation to your talent strategy and its alignment with your organization’s purpose, culture, and business strategy.
  2. Educate yourself and your team on HCM Software and what solutions are available. Search for vendors who cater to your industry and the size of your business. The SHRM Vendor Directory or the Gartner guide are good places to start. There are hundreds of providers and relying on a blind internet search could lead you down the wrong path.
  3. Start conversations with vendors. They will give you white papers, data sheets, and other informational materials that will help you understand what their capabilities are. Those conversations are a great way to learn, and they will help pre-qualify your RFP recipients.
  4. Launch an RFI. If you need to find out more to define your needs, a Request for Information (RFI) will help. An RFI is a simple document that a vendor can respond to quickly. Give your potential vendors enough information to understand your business and your needs. Give vendors plenty of space to explain their solutions.
  5. Create and Launch your RFP. Use the information you gain from your RFI to help you define your needs in your RFP.


Write your RFP after you meet these criteria:

  • You have a clear description of nature of your business, your approach to talent management, and how your HCM technology fits your digital strategy.
  • You know what you want and have defined your requirements, including each functional requirement and required feature. Identify must-have requirements and prioritize should-have and nice-to-have features.
  • You have created a scoring matrix to evaluate all candidates equally. Do this before you launch the RFP.
  • You are ready to buy, have funding, and possess the authority to make or recommend a decision.

Final Tips and Advice

Make your RFP a clear, concise communication tool. Consider using RFP software such as RFP365 or collaboration solutions for SharePoint.

Avoid these four mistakes:

  1. Using an RFP as a screening tool. It is a decision tool designed for use with 2-5 pre-screened candidates.
  2. Using it as a smokescreen for a predetermined outcome.
  3. Sending an RFP to vendors who cannot meet your must-have requirements.
  4. Failing to respond to everyone when you have made your decision.

When you embark on a human capital management technology change, you are beginning a long term relationship with your vendor. Get started on the right foot.


1. Spady, Anna. "Write, Send, and Review an RFP in 9 Steps or Less [Infographic]." RFP365. April 4, 2016

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.


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