Writing your business phone system RFP means that you are nearing the end of the line in your quest for a phone system for your company. You've done your homework and you know what your company needs and what you want to get out of a phone system RFP. You've looked at products and narrowed your choices. In regard to vendors, you've got your field down to a manageable handful. You're at the point in the process where it's time to get serious with a phone system RFP. You need to ask the vendors you've chosen to put together proposals for you to go over. In regard to a phone system RFP or Request for Proposal (RFP), though, exactly how should you do it? If you haven't been through a purchase process before, this step might be new to you. Let's take a few minutes to discuss the items that should make up a Phone System RFP.
What Is a Phone System RFP Process?
The phone system RFP process refers to writing a document detailing the specific small business phone system requirements for a project by SMB, non-profit, or government agency. A phone system RFP lets you select the best proposal from the different vendors you have submitted for phone system RFPs.
Part 1 - Your Existing Telephone System
Begin your phone system RFP by taking the time to lay out your existing telephone system. Keep in mind that the landscape of business communications has changed, which may be reflected in what you now need in a phone system. Talk about the system that you have, how it's configured, what you like about it, and what you don't like about it. Include any network information related to the phone system RFP that would be helpful to the vendor. If possible, a diagram of the existing phone system RFP would go a long way here. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Part 2 - What You're Looking for in a New System and Vendor in Your phone system RFP
Having laid out what you have in part 1, take the time in part 2 to talk about the features and functionality you're seeking with a new phone system RFP. Be specific for a good VoIP system that meets all your needs. The more information you provide, the better a proposal the vendor can generate for your phone system RFP. Spend some time in this phone system RFP section outlining what you expect from the VoIP vendor you'll be working with.
Part 3 - Vendor Background and History
You'll want to know as much as possible about any vendor you sign a deal with. A phone system RFP requests that the vendor take the time to give you information on their background and history. You're looking for information on stability and business practices with this phone system RFP.
Part 4 - Customer References
Request at least 3 customer references from the vendor when submitting your phone system RFP. Most reputable vendors won't have an issue giving these to you, and most likely will already have a stable of references ready to hand out. You're going to want to contact each of these customers and discuss their experiences with the vendor. Feedback from the vendor's own customers is one of the best ways to find out what you can expect if you go into business with the vendor after a phone system RFP.
Part 5 - Description of the Vendor's Proposed Hardware and Software Solutions
You're going to want to know exactly how the vendor plans to address your needs, so make sure you request that they spell it out completely for you. Expect the vendor to give you something as detailed, if not more so, as what you gave regarding your existing setup in part 1 in response to your phone system RFP.
Part 6 - A Similar Design Completed by the Vendor
Suffice it to say that you'd rather not be a guinea pig for the vendor to experiment with when submitting a phone system RFP. Whatever solution the vendor is proposing for you, find out if the vendor has done something similar previously for similar phone system RFPs.
Part 7 - Detailed Breakdown of All Costs in Your Phone System RFP
Request that the vendor provides you with a detailed breakdown of all costs involved in the solution being proposed in your phone system RFP. Weigh the advantages of VoIP against costs and other system features. This section should include all hardware and software costs, maintenance costs, support costs, as well as costs for expanding the system in the future through this phone system RFP.
Be Thorough, and Expect Thoroughness
Using the headings described here, an all-inclusive phone system RFP can be requested. Indeed, with a little tweaking, the process can be used for any vendor in regard to any product, not just phone system RFP. Take the time to be thorough, and make sure that the phone system RFP is specific and makes the requests that you want. If you're concerned that the vendor may not address certain questions, be sure to include them in the phone system RFP. Expect to get a comprehensive proposal in return. If you don't, the phone system RFP has already done part of its job by helping you to eliminate a VoIP vendor from your list.
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What is the Difference Between Phone System RFP and phone system RFQ?
Requesting a phone system RFP is the first step in selecting the right phone systems provider for your business. After selecting your preferred phone system vendor, you can submit a phone system RFQ or a request for a quote. A phone system RFQ is when you already know what you are looking to buy VoIP but need to clarify details on the price of the phone system software product and its services. This will allow your business to select a phone system service that is within your price range while offering most of the features that you desire.
To narrow down your choices for vendors to submit phone system RFP documents to, refer to our phone systems buyer’s guide and compare the best phone system providers as well as the unique services that they provide.