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Why is an effective RFP important? 

Managed Print Services are a highly bespoke and tailored service, so, your RFP (Request for Proposal) should outline as much detail as possible to help your potential vendors fully understand your requirements and provide the best value proposition. The first section should outline the purpose of the RFP for recipients – to be able to select a preferred supplier to deliver goods or services for the requested solutions. Also give a topline reference to business motivations, for example:

The purpose of this RFP seeks to identify a potential supplier that will be responsible for providing the most cost effective and productivity focused MPS. 

The RFP acts as your shopping list in which you must detail the specifics of your managed print requirements. The document should outline a goal or solution you want to implement and asks potential vendors to come back with a bid for the work which includes price and a proposal of how the solution will be implemented and operated. Often these are more openly written and are used in situations where the business understands what they want to achieve, but would like the subcontractor to define the best path to success.

A tender process can come in other forms, such as an ITT, or an Invitation to Tender. This is typically used when the business knows in detail what requirements the bidders need to meet and what specifications the work needs to meet. A request for information (RFI) is used to understand what options are available from a variety of vendors. The results of an RFI can then be used to inform a Request for Proposal (RFP). A request for quote (RFQ), however, is used when you know exactly what you’re looking for and are seeking the best value offering. 

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Context

The first section of the RFP should provide the supplier with the context of your current printing landscape and should address the following:

  • Why does your business want to implement MPS?
  • What are the essential needs of your business and what are the nice-to-haves?
  • If you’re switching suppliers, then what has prompted the change? 
  • Give the supplier a clear picture of your motivations and your business objectives; be as specific as possible with this, outlining your motivations is intrinsic to the supplier understanding the kind of solution to propose.  

Consider any abnormal set-ups or software currently in use. This helps to give the supplier the best possible picture of your current environment and will mitigate any problems that might arise during implementation. 

Service requirements

The following section outlines the intricacies of your printing infrastructure to inform the supplier’s ideas of cost and scale. Consider what aspects of your solution need to work with your current set-ups, such as with a particular piece of software or a certain model of hardware to mitigate incompatibility and delayed implementation.

It’s important to detail your must-have items and what service your business requires; the specifics of this will consider the vendors hours of operation, the service coverage and service level agreements. Being explicit in your must-haves is an efficient way to whittle down your potential vendors to only those that can meet your core requirements. For example, does the solution provide support during your business hours? Does it cover emergency call-outs should you require out of hours assistance? 

Asking a supplier to list the available products and or services they have for fulfilling these needs is a good way to determine your options. 

You should also include an estimate of the following:

  • The total value of the RFP
  • The number of devices you wish to purchase (if known)
  • The annual volume of black and white/colour print (if known)

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Questions to ensure that you’re choosing the right supplier

Understanding the supplier’s capability and credentials 

An RFP will usually list the minimum requirements expected from a supplier; this pertains to the level of experience that the supplier has in your sector or scale. It is a good way to determine if your supplier has relevant experience and is capable of catering to your business needs. 

As there can be inherent risk involved in implementing a managed print solution particularly with IT changes, it’s important to get an understanding of what kind of MPS the supplier delivers. Consider asking the following:

  • Can they give an example of previous work they have carried out where a similar solution has been implemented at a similar scale? Can they provide any references?
  • What policies and processes do they have in place? Are their attitudes to risk in line with your businesses? For example, do they meet your accreditation standards? Do they have a high standard of sustainability credentials?
  • Do they have sufficient financial standing?

Understanding the supplier’s values

It is likely that you will enter a long-term relationship with your chosen supplier, so, it’s valuable to ensure that the supplier shares your corporate values. For example, if sustainability is high on your company agenda, you may want to choose a supplier who will assist you on your mission – who disposes of waste responsibly or recycles and reuses materials. 

  • Ask the supplier to provide some statistics in relation to your own corporate values to ensure they are like-minded.  

Understanding your needs

Most MPS service providers will carry out a range of assessments and audits before designing a solution. Getting an understanding of the type of audits and assessments offered by the supplier is valuable as it provides a glimpse of the service you’re likely to expect.

Example questions might include:

  • What assessments do you carry out and how do they work to design a solution? For example, internal interviews, site-maps, software audits, user analysis?
  • How will you support me during the implementation and change stage? Who will be my point of contact? 
  • What solution might you put in place to help me meet my cost reduction goals?
  • We would like to increase productivity by 20% in the next year, how will you help me to reach these goals?
  • What products and solutions do you think will help me meet my sustainability targets?
  • How can you help us to tighten our current security protocol? 

Post-sales

Here you should list or highlight any expectations you have of the post-sales and after-care service. 

Suggested questions are as follows: 

  • What is your post-sales protocol? 
  • What are my options for call-out/support service? 
  • How will my printing consumables be managed, for example, do you offer automatic despatch services? 
  • How will you assist with the selling-in process to influence key decision makers in the business? 
  • How do you support us in change management?
  • How will you respond to ongoing change in the business? 
  • How will progress be monitored?

Finance and cost

Make sure that all billing and costs are transparent before you’re in agreeance with a new supplier. This is important at this initial stage in order to present accurate information to internal stakeholders. 

Things to ask: 

  • How is billing and invoicing managed? 
  • Will add-ons and extra services be included in the initial solution price?

Knowing how to write an accurate and insightful RFP is incredibly important to solidifying the right solution and the most valuable supplier for your business. 

At Brother, we have an unparalleled network of specialist partners. Find a partner that can help you identify the right Brother solutions for your business.

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