Overhead expenses, including telecom costs, can slow or completely sabotage your business success. You don’t need to fall victim to ever escalating overhead–instead, practice efficient and pro-active telecom expense management (TEM) with a detailed RFP. Drafting a well-designed request for proposal can put your company into the drivers seat, helping you control costs by creating healthy competition among vendors. In return, your firm will get customized, well-priced bids from telecom vendors who truly want your business.
Writing an Effective RFP for Telecom Services
- Start with a rough outline of your telecom RFP.
- Examine your current telecom usage and feature set. Stakeholders should note any services that are no longer necessary, missing or need improvement. Consider an expert audit to streamline this process, clarify areas of waste or billing errors–and capture potential savings.
- Prioritize your telecommunications requirements and nice-to-haves.
- Map out future telecom needs you anticipate, to ensure you attract vendors capable of growing with you.
- Include your budget target.
Components of a Completed RFP
- Introduction: Succinctly and in broad terms, describe what your firm is looking for and why, so vendors can quickly assess your needs.
- History and Mission: Provide an overview of your firm, company history and how you plan to evolve into the future, along with information about prior services and providers used. This gives prospective telecom vendors insight into your telecom needs and service level expectations.
- Requirements: Your RFP should clearly list both needs and wants, in order of priority. Your non-negotiables are the key part of the document. Clearly quantify your company’s needs and convey the level of service expected.
- Evaluation Criteria: You can be somewhat vague, if you prefer, or you may opt to provide detailed selection criteria. The advantage of detail is that it shows vendors what’s important about their bid—and most important to you.
- Deadlines: Provide a structure with sufficient periods for vendors to assess your firm’s requirements–and request further information that they may find necessary for an accurate proposal. Key deadlines to include in your RFP:
- Letter of intent
- Information requests/vendor questions
- Teleconference attendance or Q and A session
- Vendor proposal submission
An open-ended RFP can rob you of some of the control you’ve gained by authoring the RFP in the first place. A deadline ensures you’re serious about contracting with a telecom vendor, rather than just thinking about doing so someday. Setting up a timeline ensures you’ll get motivated vendors who are ready to serve your company’s needs now.
- Resources: Provide direct contact information for your firm’s telecom point person(s), SMEs (subject matter experts) and/or decision makers so that vendors can easily reach out to these key staff members when they need additional information to complete their proposals. Consider scheduling a conference call with each vendor so that your key staff can conduct a brief interview or Q and A session.
- Vendor Submission Format: Provide proposal deliverables or an outline for responses, so that proposals are structured similarly to speed your review and selection process.
- Review: Proof your RFP to be sure that it effectively explains your company identity, your reason for seeking a new vendor, the services you require and deadline for submissions.
- Send: Cast a wide net by sending your RFP to a variety of vendors, established brand names, niche providers, etc. You may get pricing, service options or telecom solutions you never thought existed.