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How To Create an LMS RFP to Ensure Selection of the Best Possible Vendor

By December 11, 2017 No Comments

Let’s face it, the RFP process is not fun. The planning, the committee meetings, reading response after response from vendors… After putting all this hard work into the LMS RFP process, how can you ensure success?

Here at eThink we do not respond to every LMS RFP that comes across our desks. If the scope of work is excessively narrow, we conclude that the RFP was written with a specific vendor in mind. If the specs are inordinately broad, our team has a difficult decision to make regarding our chances of success.

This creates an interesting conundrum for LMS RFP writers… How do you craft a LMS RFP that both incorporates all your key specifications and also entices as many qualified vendors as possible?

Here are some tips we hope you find helpful:

Complete Due Diligence Before Releasing the LMS RFP

Once the LMS RFP is issued, communication with vendors will be put on hold.  If you have a handful of vendors in mind, request a demonstration of their services before issuing the RFP.  This process will not only help you better qualify the field of vendors, but it will also allow you to pick up on additional specs you may want to include in the RFP.

Survey Your Users

Surveying your end users and asking two simple open-ended questions will provide for some eye-opening responses…

  1. What about our current LMS can you not live without?
  2. Where is our current LMS coming up short?

Your end users will appreciate that you have included them as part of the process, and their responses will help you shape your need set.

Complete an Evaluation Rubric

The LMS RFP evaluation process is highly subjective.  Your committee will have bias.  To ensure you select a vendor that truly meets your needs, be sure to create a rubric that forces objectivity.  How will you weigh price vs. response to the technical requirements vs. past experience vs. completeness of the RFP? That is for you to decide, but a rubric will help make the decision on who will win your bid.

What Features Should You Focus On?

Time to give away a secret… Most Learning Management Systems have the same/similar functionality.  This is a mature industry.  There is no magic bullet when it comes to functionality that will make one vendor a clear favorite over another.  That said, where should your focus lie?

1. Support

Nothing is more important than selecting an LMS vendor who will provide world-class support.  Nothing! This will be the team you rely on for the heart of your learning ecosystem.  What is their reputation in the industry?  What is their client retention rate?  Do they work with other clients with similar needs?  Do not be afraid to ask these questions, and make sure you get your answers.

2. Usability

If it takes more than a few clicks for the end users to navigate to their course, you will lose them.  A frustrated learner will quickly become a lazy learner.  The team you select to implement and service your LMS needs will need to take the time to conduct a needs analysis and configure a learning portal for your specific needs.  Make sure they do!

3. Integrations

Have you attended a learning conference recently?  Walk around EDUCAUSE or DevLearn and you will find aisle upon aisle of intriguing solutions for learning needs.  The LMS has become the jumping-off point for all learning technologies.  Not only will you want to make sure that your LMS integrates with your current EdTech tools, but the team you select should be able to provide vast expertise on all possible integration options.

Is There A “Leader In the Club House?”

You’ve gone through the due diligence process, identified a vendor you would like to work with, but you are mandated to release an LMS RFP. As vendors, this process is just as frustrating to us as it is to you.  Here is another secret (we should be charging for these!)… We have technical specifications already written and ready to go. Just ask! Need a sole source document? We have that ready to go as well! We want to make this process as easy as possible for you!

The LMS RFP process is a lengthy, time-consuming process. Make sure you make the most of your efforts by taking the time to do your due diligence, survey your users, and include the features you not only need but want. Taking the time to put together a solid RFP will help ensure you’ll end up with the LMS vendor that best suits your eLearning needs.

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