In March 2018, The Radicati Group predicted that 333 billion emails will be sent per day by year-end 2022. This means that email hosting still represents a huge and expanding opportunity for astute telcos and service providers.
Telcos and service providers already offering an email hosting service will know how important it is to review that service and its capability at least every two to five years. Historically, that review was prompted by end-of-life software and/or hardware. However, given that some telcos and service providers are now reporting that their active email customers churn less (and spend three times more across their brand portfolio), an increasing number of providers are reviewing their email hosting service more frequently, to ensure they are delivering the stickiest customer email experience possible.
If a review recommends that an organisation replace their current email hosting offering, organisations typically choose one of two options: (1) seek vendor solutions directly; or (2) issue a more formal request for vendor submissions. A common way to do the latter is to issue an email RFP.
What is an Email RFP?
An Email Request for Proposal (RFP), also known as a Request for Offer (RFO), is designed for the purchaser who is typically committed to buying, but doesn’t want to limit their options to exact specifications because they want to review solutions-based proposals from vendors.
It differs from:
- A Request for Information (RFI) – which is typically used by a potential purchaser to gather preliminary information, with no commitment to purchase;
- A Registration of Interest (ROI), otherwise known as an Expression of Interest (EOI) – which is similar to an RFI and is often used as a screening or shortlisting tool;
- A Request for Solution (RFS) – which is similar to an RFP but more open in that it allows the vendor the most scope to express their unique solution and mould the purchase process;
- A Request for Tender (RFT), also known as an Invitation to Tender (ITT) – which demonstrates a clear commitment to buying; and
- A Request for Quote (RFQ) – which is best suited to price-driven purchasing organisations that are ready to buy and know exactly what they want.
Is an Email RFP Right for Your Organisation?
An RFP is not always the best way to find your new email solution. The process, from start to finish, can be incredibly time consuming and frustrating for both purchasers and vendors, with no guarantee of a favourable outcome for either side.
So, the first step in the email RFP process is to double-check if it is the right investment of valuable time and resources, or whether there might be a faster and more cost-effective way to meet your organisation’s email needs.
In principle, an email RFP:
- Alerts vendors that your organisation is looking to procure an email hosting service;
- Announces that the selection process will be competitive;
- Requires you to formally articulate the email problem you need solved;
- Requires the vendor to spell out how they will solve that problem;
- Allows for wide distribution and response; and
- Follows a structured evaluation and selection procedure.
An email RFP is best suited to your organisation if you:
- Need to procure the technical expertise of an external email solution;
- Have a good overview of your email requirements;
- Have already identified some of the key vendors in the email market;
- Are flexible in terms of the exact vendor solution;
- Are not making your decision solely on price; and
- Are committed to purchasing an email solution.
If you are not certain that an email RFP is right for your organisation, it is best not to proceed until you compare alternatives. Time spent re-examining your options now could be time saved and a more favourable outcome later.
Pros of an Email RFP
1. Broader vendor participation
While you may have already identified and started conversations with a shortlist of email vendors, the widespread promotion of an RFP can attract additional vendors who you may not have otherwise discovered. These vendors could bring new and highly valuable solutions to the table.
2. Early articulation of your needs
The formality of the process encourages considerable effort into articulating your technical and commercial requirements at the beginning of the project. This typically results in better-fit proposals and a more successful result at the end of the project.
3. Competitive proposals
If you have formulated an RFP that is enticing to vendors, you should receive proposals that are competitive in price. Aware of the competitive process, vendors may also be willing
to negotiate even further.
4. Peace of mind
There is a certain level of comfort, for both purchasers and vendors,
in having a clearly defined and accountable process in place, with an estimated timeline to follow. Vendors also appreciate the list of key contacts for questions and concerns.
Cons of an Email RFP
1. Time and money
Given the number of internal people and departments involved in an email RFP, the process can sometimes become an expensive black hole of organisational resources. Often, an RFP may not have been needed in the first place.
2. Slow decision making
With multiple internal contacts needing to convene for multiple meetings to read multiple lengthy responses, it is no surprise that RFPs rarely sail through committee member meetings quickly or adhere to all of the timelines. Be prepared to wait longer than you expect for an outcome.
3. Lack of vendor participation
The level of effort, combined with the complexity, timeline and specificity of an RFP, can discourage vendor participation. This is especially true
if the emphasis in the criteria is more on price than product fit.
4. Innovation may suffer
While RFPs usually offer more flexibility than RFTs and RFQs, they can restrict vendor creativity if the best-fit solution is outside the scope of the RFP. This can also occur when the problem, needs and requirements are incorrectly articulated in the RFP.
10 Steps to a Successful Email RFP
If your organisation is looking for a new email service and you are evaluating what you need to do for a successful email RFP, we invite you to download our comprehensive 25-page guide, 10 Steps to a Successful Email RFP: A must-read guide for telcos and service providers issuing an email tender.
This step-by-step guide will take the uncertainty out of email RFPs and help you to achieve the best possible outcome for your organisation.
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