What you need to know before starting your Drupal RFP

So, you want to have a kick ass website made in Drupal, maybe even update an existing one? But you don’t know which vendor to choose and you have no idea how long or how much it will cost, and your boss is breathing down your neck to get it underway. You then start creating a Drupal RFP, ie, request for proposal, to send out. But wait a minute – don’t send out that Drupal RFP until you’ve read this! We’ll share our top tips and explain how to write a great Drupal RFP that will yield an outstanding partnership with your vendor.

The Drupal RFP process provides a mechanism for your organization to acquire services and products that it is unable to provide internally. This is a very necessary process, but has too many pitfalls and case studies of projects gone awry. You need to be careful about how you write your RFP’s. If the RFP is too vague, the resulting proposals won’t be detailed enough either. If expectations are not set properly, then the results can be downright disappointing.

Consider the following guidelines when writing your Drupal RFP:

Confirm problem definition with the stakeholders

Gather all of the Drupal website stakeholders. Ask them what the status of the current site is, if there is one. Determine the problems and pain points of the current site. This will boil down to finding the key objectives and goals of the new site, and will be a great help in arriving at the proper requirements. We do not want the RFP to be a long list of nice-to-have features that would unnecessarily inflate both the timeline and the budget. We would rather it address the current problems and provide solutions to future ones. This also ensures that requirements will change very little in the long run, preventing the aforementioned inflation of the budget and timeline.

The discovery phase – how to give vendors an accurate proposal

Once a vendor has been selected, next comes the time when actual requirements are defined. This often results in a very different specification sheet than what was highlighted in the RFP. This situation can result when stakeholders did not elaborate enough on their existing problems and did not make the solutions match their actual requirements, but rather wrote down their dreams and aspirations for what they wished their site could be. So, take a few passes at requirement gathering with your stakeholders. Do multiple meetings that are a day or two apart in order to let the ideas settle in. The reasoning behind each requirement will determine if those need to be in the RFP or not. You need to be clear regarding what you need and want. If you don’t, the vendor will guesstimate all of it and accuracy goes down the drain. Another solution to this is to hire an external Drupal consultant that can help with the proper discovery of requirements. Although Drupal is a CMS, just like WordPress, Joomla, and Magento, there are subtle differences between them in actual application. Tailoring your RFP for the specific platform will make a distinctive difference in the end. Hiring an expert in Drupal to do your requirements consulting will go a long way into making the perfect RFP that will help your potential vendors to give accurate proposals. The input from the stakeholders that you gathered will help greatly in expediting this process.

Structure the response to identify better vendors

Vendors often have a standard way of responding to RFPs and this varies between them. That is because RFPs are their bread and butter; it determines actual business and they need to respond to a lot of them. This means that they often will have a very standardized way of doing it and it might come out as mechanical. By forcing the vendors to respond in a specific way to your RFP, you are weeding out those who treat their clients as numbers, sending out proposals as often as they can, from those who actually care about customer satisfaction and want to do a great job. This is a simple way to remove the fluff vendors without spending so much time reviewing each proposal.

Take into account data migration as part of the projected timeline

Too often, organizations fail to do proper discovery internally or with an expert, causing multiple changes and scope creep during development. Then they spend too much time reviewing boatloads of vendor responses, and nearing the project end, they realize too late that they forgot a crucial step – data migration.

Indeed, if there’s old content and data that you need migrated to the new site, consider the time and effort required to clean it up and who will be doing it – whether an internal resource or the vendor. Too often, this step gets glossed over in the RFP. Clients often assume that the vendor will take care of the migration, but vendors only follow what’s in the agreement. If you fail to include data migration in the agreement…  you see how that can be a problem. The vendor ends up ignoring it thinking that it is not a requirement, resulting in lengthy back-and-forths when the time to do it finally arrives. To avoid this scenario, make sure data migration is part of the original projected timeline in your Drupal RFP.

Experience matters – follow these great Drupal RFP tips then get in touch

These four tips are some of the most important aspects you should be spending time on when writing a great Drupal RFP. Above all, keep your RFP honest, to the point, and as accurate as possible.

Given our team at North Studio has worked with so many clients over the past 20 years, we have a great deal of insight into the RFP process. We have had many successes and continuously learn lessons from each partnership. Don’t hesitate to give us a call or drop us an email and our experienced Drupal experts will be on your case faster than you can write that RFP.