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Stefan Schinkel
Enterprise Sales

RFP Template for Content Management System (CMS)

Aug 22, 2021
By: Stefan Schinkel

Have you ever been in a situation where your company has to choose a new software vendor but there are too many choices and not enough time? Chances are you need an RFP process to help you out.

According to Gartner, a request for proposal (RFP) is both the process and documentation used to solicit bids for potential software solutions —in this case, content management systems, required by a company. An RFP typically outlines the requirements that vendors need to meet if they want to make a bid to your company.

RFPs cover the following processes and documentation:

  • Procurement process
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Commercial terms and condition
  • Timelines
  • Activities involved in the implementation

However, when it comes to sending an RFP to a CMS vendor, you have to be careful about what you ask for because of the amount of work required by both sides. That’s why we’ve prepared a CMS RFP template that will help you expedite the process and keep everyone in the loop, about both what you need, and what the vendor can deliver.

This article provides a template you can use when crafting your own RFP for content management systems.

First Steps Before Choosing A CMS

The RFP template is designed to help companies quickly identify the vendors that meet their needs. It includes a list of questions and evaluation criteria for all parts of the project so it's quick and easy to compare vendors on an even playing field.

Requests for proposals are always accompanied by detailed project descriptions. Your questions need to include background information about your company and your processes because if you don’t, you risk selecting the wrong CMS solution for your company.

Before picking a CMS vendor, take the following questions into consideration:

  • What are you trying to accomplish? Understanding your goals, your needs, your current pain points and your own roadmap is a must before you even start drafting RFPs and sending them to a potential vendor. You need to take your business requirements and your technology needs into account before you select a CMS.
  • How do your roadmaps align? The right CMS can help your company solve issues and grow. Each CMS vendor has its own roadmap they are following. Maybe CMS X has great things to offer right now but they don't plan to offer specific funcionality you plan to need in the future.
  • What are some specific requirements? Before you send your RFPs out and have to sift through multiple detailed vendor proposals, you need to have your specific requirements ready. Make a list of the functionalities and features you need, those that would be nice to have, and then focus on the CMS solutions that have those.
  • How much time are you willing to spend evaluating proposals and making a decision? Having a set RFP timeline with a period of time in which you need to make your decision is a good idea if you want to move forward quickly but orderly. For instance, if you want to start implementing the new CMS in the next six months, it helps to let the vendor and an implementation partner know at the beginning of the process.
  • Proof-of-Concept: Any vendor can deliver a shiny demo. To really know if CMS is going to work for your company, you need to be able to try it. Having access to a sandbox and being able to build out the most business-critical use cases can give you instant insight.

RFP Template for CMS

Creating an RFP involves looking deeply into your company processes and your plans for growth. Make sure you’ve assessed every aspect of your company to help you identify how your potential vendor and the CMS will help you achieve those goals. Once you’ve done that, you will have gained knowledge about your company and can advance towards the actual RFP.

The best RFP is the one that helps both you and your CMS vendor assess each other’s needs, capabilities, and potential. Here’s an RFP template you can use to find the perfect CMS vendor for your project.

What Is Your Company Looking for from A Potential Vendor?

Explain exactly what you’re looking for in the potential CMS vendors. Be colloquial and explain what kind of CMS solution you’re looking for and what you expect from the vendor, customer support, and every other stakeholder involved.

To help narrow down the right CMS solution for you, ask them to answer a list of 3-5 thought-provoking questions or scenarios related to your everyday operations to ensure you're not receiving canned responses from the vendors.

Plus, those answers might give you an idea of how your prospective vendor works and how its company sees and solves issues.

Shortlisting Potential CMS Vendors

Once you’ve sent your RFP to potential vendors, you might want to create a list of each vendor that has caught your attention. Think about how every platform meets your business requirements and how striking a partnership with a particular vendor might end up affecting your performance and your business outcomes. 

Another important thing worth considering is that while it might be tempting to send RFPs to every CMS vendor available, keep in mind that reviewing each request for information needs to be a thorough process, you don’t want to skim and speed just because there is so much information to absorb. 

Rather, pre-vet certain vendors based on previous research and keep the list under ten companies or less. Also, don’t select only the most prominent companies; consider both small and larges CMSs as long as they display the capabilities you need. 

Remember: the goal of a CMS RFP template is to narrow down your choices and evaluate the candidates that best align with your business objectives. After your initial RFPs, you should have a list of at least three CMSs with whom you can continue conversations with.

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