Welcome to part one of my three-part series on choosing an admissions recruitment CRM!

In this post, I’ll tell you why the Request for Proposal (RFP) process often leads to a disappointing outcome.

Admissions offices typically spend as much as a year going through the CRM RFP process. Now, imagine putting in all that time – and then finding yourself unhappy with, or caught off-guard by, the outcome! Believe me, it happens all the time.

Why? Because so much crucial information comes to light only AFTER the RFP process is complete.

Let’s take a look at the top five reasons why the CRM RFP process often leads to a disappointing outcome.

1. RFPs leave out some really important questions.

RFPs typically include hundreds of questions about features and functionality, and the vendor that checks the most boxes, or responds “yes” the most times, is likely to win. However, a vendor’s philosophy, culture, and values, along with other hard-to-quantify but essential factors, aren’t often asked about in an RFP … and these factors are critical to a successful long-term partnership with your CRM vendor.

2. RFPs only ask WHAT, not HOW.

RFPs ask a lot of questions about WHAT a CRM does, but they don’t ask HOW the CRM does what it’s able to do. For example, RFPs overlook the user experience. RFPs don’t ask how many steps it will take to perform a specific task. RFPs don’t ask which tasks can only be accomplished with assistance from an administrator. RFPs simply ask “yes” and “no” questions and don’t tell you which tasks will be easy to complete, which will be difficult to complete, and which will require a workaround to complete.

3. RFPs often prioritize the bells and whistles.

A common IT adage is that 80 percent of all software users generally use just 20 percent of a software product’s features and functionality. Yet, many RFPs focus too much on the bells and whistles rather than on the core features and functionality admissions offices need to get their jobs done. Even worse, institutions end up paying for bells and whistles their admissions offices will rarely or never use.

4. RFP weightings don’t align with admissions goals.

IT department requirements – put in place to save the IT department time – are often weighted more heavily than admissions requirements. This can result in admissions offices being forced to work with a CRM that makes it more difficult for them to get their jobs done, and thus harder to meet their enrollment goals.

5. The most qualified vendor(s) may decline to participate.

Because responding to an RFP can consume so much time and so many resources, a complex RFP – with hundreds of detailed questions – may discourage the best vendors from responding. When this occurs, RFP committees may end up with only a handful of less-qualified vendors to choose from, which can lead to a “failed RFP” and force a school to start all over again. (Really, it happens.)

In my next blog post, I’ll share with you The Advantages of Using an RFI Instead of an RFP.

Shelly J. Spiegel has nearly 35 years of experience in the education market – including 19 years as CEO & Chief Creative Officer of the company she founded, Fire Engine RED.