Part I: Before the RFP, ask yourself, “What do we want?”

Part I: Before the RFP, ask yourself, “What do we want?”

There’s an old adage that says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”

You may have come to the general conclusion that you want to begin to work with a Managed IT Services Provider, but, before you fire off that Request for Proposal (RFP) to the first six companies that come back in your Google search, you should take the time to establish exactly why you’ve come to that conclusion, and exactly what you want to get out the relationship once it’s begun. This will help you to not only narrow the field of potential bidders, but also help you to communicate the precise nature of what you want, which in turn will get you more accurate pricing.

Of course, it may be hard for you to articulate what you want, and you may not be familiar with all the options you have in front of you. Instead, start by asking fundamental questions about your business:

  1. What business reality do I face:
    1. Rising costs?
    2. Shrinking markets?
    3. Rapid growth?
    4. Increased competition?
    5. More stringent regulatory compliance requirements?

  2. What IT “pain” am I experiencing:
    1. An inability to maintain knowledge and skills in the face of constant technological change?
    2. A bottleneck in the resolution of employee support tickets?
    3. Increasing cyber threats?
    4. An inability to meet regulatory requirements to protect customer/user data?
    5. A fear that we’re unprepared for a disaster?
    6. Decreasing employee engagement or productivity?
    7. Ballooning IT Department staffing?
    8. An inability to plan IT infrastructure for a new initiative?
    9. Indecision regarding moving from on-premise to Cloud?

  3. What value/outcome am I looking for:
    1. More predictable IT expense or stable budgeting?
    2. Peace-of-mind when it comes to data security?
    3. Access to 24/7/365 technical support?
    4. Lower overall IT costs?
    5. Reduction in IT staffing levels?
    6. Low-stress regulatory compliance? Ability to scale more quickly as business grows?

By doing so, you will be able to create a comprehensive statement to describe the rationale behind your request:

Because our business is facing ___________________, we are experiencing ___________________. Therefore, we would like to seek your services to help us __________________, so that we can __________________.

Your statement could combine more than one element. As an example, it could sound like this:

Because our business is facing rapid growth, we are experiencing a bottleneck in the resolution of employee support tickets. Therefore, we would like to seek your services to help us access 24/7/365 technical support and scale more quickly as business grows, so that we can forecast our IT expenses accurately for the next 5 years.

With this statement, you’ll have the basis to issue your RFP for managed IT services without having to know exactly what to ask for. With this and the framework for an RFP we’ll provide in Part II of this blog, you can have confidence that the responses you receive will help you get to where you’re going.

Taking the time to ask the right questions before your RFP will instrumental in helping you fairly evaluate and choose the MSP that’s the best fit for your business. Be it through an RFP or via our free consultation, we at XBASE are committed to working with you to address all of your pressing IT concerns.

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