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A tender, just like a Request for Proposal (RFP), is an open invitation for companies to submit their offers for products or services.
Within the tender documents, precise performance requirements are defined, which are aimed at potential manufacturers and providers and target the desired software solution. This is also referred to as a “specification sheet” or “catalog of requirements”.
A request for proposal (RFP) also contains information on the cost framework, schedules and other criteria that are important for project implementation.
The terms tender, RFP and RFI are often used interchangeably.
In the same way, companies usually treat invitations to tender in the same way as a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for information (RFI).
The fundamental difference here, however, is that an RFI is not directly followed by the award of a contract to a provider or manufacturer – whereas a tender and an RFP are.
Special features of the DAM Tender / Software Tender
Compared to “analog” tenders, such as in the construction industry, completely different selection criteria must be taken into account for software tenders.
The tendering company often has corporate specifications or guidelines that are of the utmost relevance (regardless of the scope of functions) and are therefore often defined as a basic requirement.
Classic examples in this context are:
- Software hosting in your own data center (“on-premise”)
- Fixed contact persons on the provider side
- SaaS hosting only on TÜV-certified German servers
- Flexible data structure with open RESTful API
Tendering has several key purposes in the business environment. Its main objective is to promote transparent and fair competition when it comes to the procurement of products or services.
Through the tendering process, companies can invite different suppliers to submit their proposals, resulting in a broader selection. The process makes it possible to define clear requirements and ensure that all potential suppliers have the same information and opportunities.
This promotes transparency and fairness in the selection process in favor of the suppliers. At the same time, a tender allows companies to find the most suitable partner to meet their own specific requirements. Be it in terms of quality, pricing or other relevant criteria.
Ultimately, a tender serves to make an informed decision and ensure that the chosen solution meets the company’s needs.
The process of a tender or Request for Proposal (RFP) is divided into several clearly defined steps. This ensures a fair selection process for all potential software providers:
The requirements and objectives of the tender are defined and formulated.
2. Document preparation
All necessary documents such as specifications and contract conditions are drawn up.
The invitation to tender is published via an award portal or sent directly to potential providers.
4. Offer phase
Participating software providers submit completed requirement catalogs to the tendering company by the deadline and prepare binding offers.
5. Comparison of providers
Submitted offers are reviewed, evaluated and compared with each other to determine the best solution for the company.
6. Contract negotiation
As soon as a decision has been made in favour of a provider, final details are formalized during contract negotiations until both sides reach an agreement.
How do I publish a Tender or RFP?
While public institutions and authorities are sometimes obliged to publish their tenders via public procurement portals, the private sector also has the option of contacting potential suppliers directly.
- 1. Clear Objective: Clearly define the objectives and purpose of the tender. Understand what specific problems or needs you want to solve by selecting a new provider.
- 2. Detailed Requirements: Formulate detailed and precise requirements for the products or services you are looking for. The more precise your specifications are, the better potential providers can tailor their proposals to them.
- 3. Budget Specifications: Set clear budget limits and inform potential providers about them. This helps to obtain offers that are financially realistic and do not exceed your budget.
- 4. Time Frame: Define a clear timeframe for the entire tender process, including deadlines for submissions and evaluation. This helps to make the process efficient.
- 5. Communication: Ensure that communication is clear and transparent. Clarify all questions in advance and ensure that potential providers have sufficient opportunity to ask questions.
- 6. Evaluation Criteria: Determine the criteria by which you will evaluate the bids you receive. This could include aspects such as price, quality, experience of the provider and other relevant factors.
- 7. Legal Framework: Consider legal aspects and ensure that the tender complies with applicable laws and regulations. This protects both your company and potential suppliers.
- 8. Feedback Mechanism: Plan a clear mechanism for providing feedback to providers. This can help to make the selection process transparent and give vendors insight into their bids.
- 9. Flexibility: Be flexible enough to respond to requests and changes during the process. This shows that you are open to innovative solutions.
- 10. Sharing Experience: Learn from previous tenders. Analyze what has worked well in the past and integrate these insights into the current process.
The time frame you should allow for a software tender depends on various factors. These include the complexity of the project, the scope of your own requirements and the type of software involved.
For example, if you compare the pure planning and implementation costs of DAM and MDM software, there are significant differences.
While a new DAM solution can sometimes be implemented in 4 weeks, the same process for an MDM system takes several months – due to the immense scope and the number of connected third-party systems and departments involved.
Our recommendation is therefore: Allow sufficient time for the creation of your requirements lists and specifications and set realistic deadlines for software providers to be able to answer your tender documents in peace.
A tender can be declared invalid for various reasons.
These include, for example, non-compliance with rules or regulations, the submission of incorrect tender documents, incomplete catalogs of requirements or a time frame that is too tight, making it impossible to submit tenders.
Furthermore, tenders can be declared invalid if, for example, requirements are formulated in such a way that they favor certain providers, which could imply a bias.
To summarize, tenders and RFPs are a proven way to find the best possible software solution for your company – regardless of whether you are looking for a DAM, PIM, MDM or ERP solution.
You have already learned which pitfalls and basic rules you should be aware of. If you still have questions on the topic of tendering, please contact us by email.