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  • BRIDGELINE WHITEPAPER SERIES

    Sample RFP Template: Content Management System

    Copyright 2014 Bridgeline Digital Inc. | Bridgeline.com | 1-800-603-9936

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    the digital engagement company

    Organizations often issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) to begin a search for a new web Content Management System (CMS) to power their new enterprise-grade website. But before we dive into what good looks like in terms of RFPs, lets quickly provide an overview to the selection process what a CMS is, what questions to ask potential vendors, whether a RFP is even necessary in your search, and how to structure the document to meet your needs.

    What is an Enterprise-Grade Web Content Management System?

    In its most simplistic purpose, a top-tier, enterprise-grade Content Management System (CMS) allows users to centralize data, content creation, editing, and publishing all on a single back-end system. The primary goal is to arm non-technical business users with a solution to manage how content appears on a companys website.

    RFP vs. RFI

    Depending on who you talk to, the debate of how an organization should solicit CMS vendors to engage in a project is varied. There is a growing contingent who believe a Request For Information (RFI) will save both your organization and the software vendors you are reaching out to a considerable amount of time.

    While you can certainly limit your search from 15-20 vendors to just 3-4 through an RFI, eventually a scope will have to occur, on both sides; consequently, developing an RFP is far from a fools errand. Again, so long as its understood that your team is strictly establishing a baseline. (In other words, we can all agree specifics about a vendors ability to deliver under budget for your vague, yet-to-be discussed web project seems rather unreasonable.)

    The optimal outcome here is productive follow-up conversations aided by a mutual understanding forged by the RFP. And that starts here. This RFP template will help you gather information you need from vendors to determine whether or not they can meet your projects requirements.

    Introduction: How to Use the Web Content Management RFP Template

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    How to Structure Your RFP

    Creating an effective RFP is an introspective process. Your team has a 2015 plan for growth. Start there. Look inward, across every level of your organization, in order to figure out how your new website will help achieve the goals linked to your plan. The more granular the better. Initially, the task may seem arduous, but the exercise will help establish critical Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and results you ultimately need this project to produce.

    Developing Dealbreakers

    To reiterate, the whole point of a RFP is to eliminate vendors from the courtship process. Everyone has bells and whistles that theyd like to see a vendor show off, but more pressing is the shortlist of requirements that this project needs to be a success. This is where you should dig through internal pain to showcase the primary and essential needs your new website should address.

    Establishing Business Goals

    Your selection committee must determine an optimal Return On Digital Investment (RODI) that your CMS purchase should yield to justify cost. This can be predicated a number of factors some may be intangible but your business goals should be predicated on black and white results.

    Examples of Business Goals may include:

    Increase revenue by 25%

    Increase up-sell conversions by 15%

    Increase new customer acquisition by 10%

    These projections are not all directly related to your project, but your team should reconcile corresponding metrics that your website must produce to support these goals. What type of traffic can a vendor assure their CMS will produce? Are there case-studies of post-launch success? How does their software cater to existing customers by personalizing the web experience?

    Understanding Operational Goals

    Remember how we stated that RODI can be measured through intangible terms? Well, more often than not, companies find themselves in a market for a new CMS because their outdated legacy system has created a great deal of headaches.Talk to the marketing and IT departments to figure out what they need out of a new CMS to make their lives easier (and drive results).

    Put Marketing Back In Control

    Contemporary marketers understand that technology and software plays a critical role in making their ideas come to life. And while every member of your marketing department shouldnt have to be experts in HTML or API development, the software that powers their website should empower them to control the message without having to call IT. To that point, learning curves can exist, but CMS software should be intuitive, not a hindrance.

    Custom Development

    Marketing shouldnt have all the fun, though right? Of course not. Your organization is unique, and thus, your website requires special considerations and functionality to optimize RODI. This is where your RFP should ask for similar case studies or references of previous custom development done for customers that is similar to your needs

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    Creating a Timeline

    This is the beginning of a relationship. Youre not just buying software, youre forging a partnership, and building a quick timeline will provide all parties involved with transparency. Moreover, it will help weed out the pretenders from the contenders.

    Milestone Date(s)Distribute RFP

    RFPs must be returned

    Select Short List of Vendors

    Meet with Short List of Vendors

    Conduct Evaluation of Short List Vendors

    Select and Purchase WCM

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    The RFP Template

    Now that youve established the requirements, goals & timeline for the CMS project, you can develop your RFP. Below is the order in which you should insert these essentials in the beginning of your RFP. Following the introduction, a more granular and intensive questionnaire begins.

    Critical Requirements

    Business Goals

    Operational Goals

    RFP Timeline

    Roadmap to Success: Open-Ended SurveyDescribe how your software and services solve real-world business issues for clients. What is your overall value proposition?

    In terms of competitive vendor analysis, detail key differentiators that your software and services provide.Please provide your technology roadmap over the course of the next few years.

    Client RefrencesPlease list clients in our industry. Where appropriate, include at least one case study of a client within our industry.

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    Common Questions About Software Capabilities

    Capabilities and Requirements

    Vendor Response 1- Out of the Box

    2-Customer Implementation

    Additional Vendor Details

    Content Creation and EditingDoes the CMS support content editing, including support for rich text with HTML and style (CSS) enforcement?

    Does the CMS support in-line editing via a WYSIWYG editor which displays how potential edits will appear in the resulting Web page(s)?

    Does the CMS allow editing from Microsoft Word, including stripping of special characters and other formatting issues that typically occur with content originating in Microsoft Word?

    Does the CMS provide the ability to create and maintain shared assets that are used throughout one or multiple websites?

    Does the CMS provide a means to browse reusable content available in the content repository?

    Does the CMS provide common library services including revisions and versions?

    Which of the following content types are supported out-of-the-box?

    Rich Text Plain text HTML Image File (PDF/Word/etc) Calendar Events Flash Video

    Meta Data ManagementDoes the WCM support editing of metadata by content contributors, including structured information such as publication and expiration dates, titles, and call-outs?

    Does the WCM provide tagging functionality to group pages, as well as site map of categories for site visitors to select from?

    Can these tags and categories lists be used across all site content, from blog posts, to landing pages and other pages to best promote click through from one page to the next?

    Does the CMS allow for meta-data tagging using the schema.org taxonomy?

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