Injecting testing into the RFP process

Request for proposals (RFP) remain at the heart of the modern tendering system for software products, and are often filled with stress for all parties. Many of us would prefer not to labour through these long, complicated and protracted experiences, but if anything they are becoming more important.

Armed with a clear and consistent RFP, customers can confidently invite vendors to show their wares. Enabling a consistent analysis of the proposals will be aided by including an independent audit.

The requirements review process provides a platform for a functional testing approach in your evaluation. Testing professionals develop test cases for each requirement, or combination of requirements, as needed. They are then able to judge the performance of a vendor demonstration against a set of objective test cases.

Test cases are provided to vendors at the time of publishing the RFP and ahead of their system demonstration, enabling them to identify and explain areas where they can’t meet the requirements, and adequately show where they can. This creates an environment of openness and transparency – vendors know straight away how closely they can deliver to the RFP.

The test cases can also be loaded into a test management tool so they are ready for use during the implementation phase of the project. Ultimately this increases the speed and accuracy of the system testing process.

Testing in an RFP process can be delivered by an internal resource in many organisations, but doing so raises questions. The loyalty (or even familiarity) of internal testers to incumbent vendors could be seen as prejudicial in assessing test cases.

Best practice dictates being able to ‘plug-in’ a qualified, independent, third party professional. They have established skills and methodology around appropriate testing approaches and are not owned or influenced by a bidding vendor organisation.

Aside from working through a structured process it provides assurance against the required features and the demonstrated capabilities of the application. This also gives you a flexible resource that can be introduced into the RFP process as needed, which is respected by all vendors in the process and can deliver reliable results trusted by both customer and vendor.

To find out more about how to inject objectivity and fairness into the RFP process and how Qual IT can assist, download our white paper “Can RFP stand for ‘really fair process’?” here.