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6 Questions to include in your CMS and Web Design RFP

Before issuing an RFP for a new CMS and web design, it’s important to ask yourself these 5 questions.  After quizzing yourself, it is time to get to know potential vendors.  Ask about their company, processes, and relationships before making a commitment.   Their answers will enable you to choose wisely. 

1.  Who are you?

This one sounds pretty basic. And being the smart one that you are you’ve already researched your prospective vendors. However, the RFP process is the time to really dig in to see if you want to take the relationship further—remember the time you learned your match.com date still lived with his mom a bit too late in the game? Get to know your vendors early.  Hand with marker writing What Do You Need To Know?.

How long have they been in business? Are their designers up-to-date on the latest trends? Are CMS implementations one of their core competencies or a simple add-on? Do their developers hold certifications relevant to your CMS of choice? Are they familiar with your type of organization? Do they have industry street cred? For example, an association would want to work with a company that deeply understands member-based organizations. Are their clients similar to you, and will those clients serve as references on their behalf?

2.  What are your processes for CMS implementation and design?

With this one question, you’ll learn a massive amount about both the vendors and what your project life would look like with them.  Can the vendors provide you with specific details of each stage of the project? Do they reference proven methodologies and their past experiences working with customers similar to your organization?  Do they understand every step of the process and can they tell you what they will need from you and your team along the way? If the answer is no for any of these questions, we have a suggestion for you—run.

3.  What have you done?

Does this sound like a question from your mom during your teenage years?  Don’t worry, it isn’t always a negative inquiry.  Ask to see your potential vendors’ work.  Look for case studies that mirror your upcoming engagement.  Is responsive design hot on your list? Ask to see examples of a great web experience on a variety of devices.  Are you drowning in content that your constituents can’t find?  Ask to see an example of how they helped another organization overcome the same challenge.  Would their work meet your organization’s approval?  If so, keep the conversations going.

4.  Who can vouch for you? 

Don’t just take their word for it, ask for references.  References can share their real-life experiences. Talk with references about their engagement with the vendor—was the vendor pro-active or reactive, were they easily accessible, were they creative, were they on time, were they supportive after the launch?  These chats will help you gain an understanding of each vendor and what you can expect for your upcoming project.

5.  When can you start?

Not only do you need to know your own timeline, but you also need to understand your vendors’ timelines. Whether you want to start immediately or after the big board meeting this fall, gain an understanding of when your vendor will have the proper resources available. Keep in mind that project timelines may change after discovery, but getting a high-level timeline ensures all are on the same (web) page. Also, if a potential vendor pushes back on time or budget, don’t automatically rule them out.  Ask questions and have them explain their reasoning.  Vendors understand that saying no may cost them the deal, so while it may not be the responses you wanted, it does show they are an honest company willing to be upfront with you from the very beginning.

6.  Care to partner?

Search for the vendor with a solid reputation in your industry that will be your partner during the entire process.  Implementing a new content management system and designing a new website isn’t an overnight project. Choose an organization that values a long term relationship with your organization.  Also, ask if they have partnerships with other vendors in the industry.  Do they have a strong relationship with your CMS provider of choice?  Are they a certified partner? Have they worked with you AMS provider?  Your email marketing provider?  What about your social collaboration platform?  Integrations become much easier when your vendor is familiar with, and has a relationships with, your other third-party software providers.  

Additional Resources

You know what to ask potential vendors in your RFP and you have questions to ask yourself before starting the RFP.   Now you are ready to start writing it.  Check out the Brightfind Blog next week to learn How to Write a RFP, which will include a CMS and web design RFP template for you use.  If you are worried you will miss it, subscribe to our blog and we will keep you in the know.

Lauren Janik

Written by Lauren Janik