7 Guidelines to Select the Right Technology Partner
So you’ve made the decision to update your systems. The best way to get started is through an effective RFP process. The amount of effort you invest upfront to evaluate and select the right systems vendor will invariably help your fund office prepare for the project itself. We find that the planning process to develop the RFP will:
- Help you get organized around your needs and priorities
- Help prospective vendors help you, by giving them accurate, detailed information
- Help you educate your trustees about what you’re doing
- Help you make decisions and understand trade-offs when evaluating proposals
In our work with Taft-Hartley and public sector funds, we recommend seven important guidelines to help in the development of a comprehensive RFP package. Keep in mind that every RFP will include both summary-level information and detailed requirements and needs to be written in a way that is easy to understand for all constituents (trustees, management, IT staff and vendors). Here’s our recommended approach:
1 – State the problem and desired outcome(s)
If you understand the shortcomings of the current system and document where you need to go you stand a better chance of getting there. What constraints are forcing you to make a change now?
2 – Outline the current state and desired future state
Uncovering every detail about your current operations is an important exercise for your organization to go through. If you don’t know how things work now, it will be hard to come up with the right solution down the road.
3 – Document business rules and known exceptions
Although this can be a tedious process, it provides the detail for guideline #2. You may be surprised at what you uncover.
4 – Provide sample artifacts (applications, letters, reports)
Your prospective vendor should understand how you communicate currently: within your office, to regulatory bodies and to plan participants.
5 – Identify interfaces and dependencies
Document how the data flows between the fund office and key stakeholders; your bank, claims processor, actuaries.
6 – Include installed systems, vendors and business partners
Inform prospective vendors about the ecosystem you operate in and ask them about their prior experience with these systems and organizations.
7 – Make a list of specific information each vendor must provide
Structure responses in a way that is easy to evaluate and will allow you to compare apples to apples. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat!
For more helpful tips to manage the RFP process, check out this article for Benefits Magazine that I co-authored with Jim Hynes, executive administrator for PTSMN: Selecting Systems Vendors: What to Consider