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Prepare Requests for Proposal

19 January, 2016 - 12:35

Review Question

What are the factors an organization must consider in structuring the REP and deciding to whom the REP will be sent?


A request for proposal (RFP) is a document sent to vendors that invites submission of plans for providing hardware, software, and services. The organization may send an RFP to vendors from whom it has previously received proposals or with whom it has previously done business. The analysts assigned to conduct systems selection also might research vendor evaluations published in the computer press or in other computer-based or paper-based services. This research, an example of external literaturereview, is described in Technology Insight 7.2. Using the information contained in the logical specification and/or in the physical requirements, the analysts prepare the RFPs and send them to the chosen vendors. Table 7.2 lists typical contents of an RFP.

Technology Insight 7.2

Sources of Vendor Information

Analysts use a variety of paper-based, computer-based, and online services to identify and evaluate computer hardware, software, and vendors. The information contained in these services, especially that resulting from independent expert analysis of a vendor and its products or from user surveys, can provide valuable insight into the vendor’s quality, financial condition, number of installed systems, and similar information. Some are reports such as those available from Gartner Group, Inc. ( Gartner services include Dataquest Market Intelligence with research and advice in a number of areas including “Benchmarks,” “Performance Measurement,” software and hardware products, and “Vendor Selection.” Another Gartner Service, Datapro, publishes reports in such categories as “Computer Systems and Software Library,” “Communications Library,” Managing Data Networks,” “Computers and Peripherals,” and “e-Business and Internet.”

Magazines—both printed and online—also provide independent reviews of vendors, hardware, and software. For example ZDNet ( publishes reviews in their online magazine eWEEKand in magazines that are both printed and published online, such as PC Magazine and ComputerShopper.

In addition to these independent sources of information about software, hardware, and vendors, the Internet also provides a wealth of information directly from vendors. For example, a quick tour of the Web found sites for Symantec (network security, virus protection, etc. at, IBM (, Microsoft (, SAP (, J. D. Edwards (, and Gateway ( Through such sites, one could obtain news about upcoming products, lists of existing products, customer support, technical support, software purchases, and software fixes and upgrades.

Table 7.2 Typical Contents of a Request for Proposal
  1. A description of the scope of the request, including a brief description of the hardware, software, and services for which a proposal is requested
  2. A description of the system, including, if applicable, the logical specification and physical requirements, which in turn include specification for the:
    • Inputs
    • Outputs
    • Data storage
    • Processes
    • Controls
  3. Procedures for submitting proposals, including a timetable for proposal submission, evaluation of proposals, and final decision date
  4. Price and budget constraints
  5. Vendor information required, including:
    • Contract terms
    • Warranty
    • General company information
  6. Hardware performance objectives, such as:
    • Data storage capacities and access requirements
    • Input/output speeds and volumes
    • Data communication requirements
    • Computational demands
  7. Software performance objectives, such as:
    • Inputs
    • Required outputs
    • Data table sizes and access requirements
    • Operating system requirements
    • Utilities
    • Language compilers
  8. Projected growth requirements, including expected changes in input/output volumes
  9. Criteria to be used in evaluating vendor proposals, such as:
    • Ability to meet performance objectives
    • Benchmarks
    • Reliability
    • Documentation
    • Training
    • Backup
    • Maintenance assistance
    • Installation schedule
    • Cost
    • Ease of use
    • Compatibility with existing software
    • Expandability
  10. Miscellaneous information, such as:
    • Conversion plans
    • Staff requirements
    • Financing alternatives

The section on projected growth requirements is important relative to the RFP. The better an organization accurately projects the long-term requirements for a new system and obtains software and hardware that can satisfy that long-term demand, the longer it will be before the system needs to be revised and new software and hardware obtained. This principle may be less relevant to industries in which organizations need to apply rapidly evolving technology in order to remain competitive.


Review Question

What might be included in an REP for software? In one for hardware?