TMA Resources Interview on Best Practices in Association Technology [brightcove vid=2056494319001&exp3=1189507141001&surl=http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1&pubid=1189507141001&pk=AQ~~,AAABFL4mcOE~,rTVrpSripUNCNYjgEMyD8a7obhTSOk6v&domain&w=480&h=270] I am excited to…
An RFP, or Request for Proposal, allows you to outline what you are looking for in your ideal Learning Management System vendor and creates a standardized form or checklist for all would-be vendors to follow. When every organization or product you are considering follows the same guidelines, answers the same questions and provides the same materials, it is easier for you to compare them and determine which best suits your eLearning program goals.
A typical software system RFP has multiple sections; once you complete one you like, you can use it as a template for other requests and programs. Since the RFP allows you to review LMS presentations and proposals quickly and easily, with all needed information included, it can streamline the decision-making process and help you quickly identify the products or vendors that best match your needs, budget and program. Some buyers will actually use the RFP sections to “score” vendor written responses or demo presentations.
Begin by gathering your own team and discussing what you need from your LMS vendor, what features are needed and what features would be a plus for future online learning business goals. This internal process is an important step towards building an online learning business roadmap. Internal consensus is often a challenging first step. Reach agreement by requiring each department that wants to use the LMS to write up “Use Cases.” Often staff expect to replace several existing systems. Document current internal work flows that will help communicate what automation and other administrative efficiencies you expect from a new system. Make sure your teams document the learner experience and what integration is expected between the Association Management System, CMS and social media platform already in place. Ask colleagues at similar organizations to share their experience selecting software platforms. Create a three to five year plan with implementation of the new system being zero year.
Sections of the Request for Proposal
While your LMS needs are unique, each of the following sections will help you determine which vendors make your concise list and which ones simply aren’t a good match for you right now. Include a section for each of the following below to easily compare the LMS proposals you receive.
When is the proposal due, who should the LMS vendor send it to (and in what format) and which person in your organization oversees handling questions or clarifications? Including this information makes it easy for your vendors to contact the right people and ensures you receive the intended proposals, too.
This comes next in the lineup, but this overview is easier for you to create after you’ve written the rest of your RFP. Once you have all the details in place, you can go back and create an Executive Summary that described your needs in concise terms. Decide on a theme that is important to your organization for your executive summary. For example, are you looking for a vendor who can provide you guidance building your online learning business? Or do you have the internal staff and simply want a vendor who can provide the platform without other services.
Information About Your Brand
Include some of the background that LMS vendors will need to know – the demographics or learner profiles of your students, how tech savvy they are, your identified needs and the details that matter most. When your vendors have an idea of your vision and mission, they’ll be more likely to submit a proposal that addresses your needs. Provide a company logo and design information to test whether vendors will incorporate in their demonstrations.
Often the lengthiest section of the RFP, this section contains the details about what you need, specifics about the technology you want, how you want the LMS to perform and even the legacy software or components that the system will need to integrate with. Fully detailing your needs ensures that the proposals you receive address every point you have asked about and that any estimate is accurate and detailed. If you need training, end user support, integrations, or any other components, it needs to go into this section.
Include specifics – if you need to be able to include or integrate eLearning data from other tools or create checkpoints or assessments for your learners, these details should be included. Technology consultants like Tagoras and Talented Learning have resources to help you make an LMS selection.
Check out these 7 steps to selecting an LMS by Tagoras:
What kind of payment terms will you need? Do you need financing options, a specific contract length or other considerations? All the details that surround the actual contract and work performed will go here. Include renewal details, penalties for late delivery and similar concerns.
How will you evaluate the proposals you receive and select a winner? If you have a rubric that you want to share, this is the place to do so. Sharing this information with your LMS vendors is optional, but you should list the details for your internal team, so you are ready when the time comes.
Once the proposals begin to roll in, you will have already outlined the criteria for success and will be able to compare specific LMS products and offerings. Using an RFP standardizes the submission process and can make it easy for your team to find an LMS solution that works for you.
Need help getting started? Click below and access an outline to begin your RFP process: