Superior Results with the HRchitect Fast Path Methodology

August 24, 2023

By Michelle Peart

The search for Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions can be overwhelming; the thought of undertaking such an endeavor is daunting. The first step for most companies is to utilize the Request for Proposal (RFP) methodology. For decades now, when organizations need new tools or services, the RFP has been used to vet vendors, providers, consultants, and technical requirements. With little change over the years, the value of the traditional RFP has become limited. In today’s fast-paced technology landscape, the traditional RFP is not providing the individualized approach necessary to identify the best HCM vendors that meet an organization’s needs. The Fast Path Methodology provided by HRchitect utilizes the best of the traditional process but enhances the process to deliver uniquely targeted results in a shorter timeframe. To fully understand why the Fast Path Methodology is superior to the standard RFP process, we must first review that method and its limitations.

The Traditional RFP

At its core, the RFP is a document soliciting responses from software vendors that will provide the requestor with the information needed to decide the best vendor for their organization. The RFP typically includes the following items:

  • Company information
  • Timeline and project scope
  • HCM requirements   
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Technical requirements
  • Vendor specific questions
  • Product overview
  • Product functionality

The resulting document aims to explain what the organization needs and solicit detailed information on the vendor’s ability to meet those requirements. The RFP responses will ideally aid the company in its decision-making by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor, thus providing the insight necessary to select a new vendor.

A Better Approach

The traditional RFP has become the default go-to for organizations. That does not inherently make it the best approach for all organizations, especially when selecting HCM software in today’s marketplace. Let us look at why this go-to approach is no longer the best option.

Company Specific Requirements

The exact company-specific requirements are critical when selecting a new HCM solution. If the software’s functionality is not aligned with the organization’s needs, there will inevitably be frustrations for the organization. It isn’t easy to fully define requirements at the initial stages of drafting an RFP, especially if an organization uses a standard fill-in-the-blanks template RFP and sends it out.

What an organization wants and needs will evolve as it learns about system capabilities. Requirements gathering must provide the upfront focus and detail to create an RFP that accurately represents the organization’s needs. The flip side is that vendors assume that an RFP request covers everything the organization needs. Often though, companies don’t know what they need, at least not compared to the robust functionality in current HCM solutions. It’s understandable because the organization only knows what they know based on their current state. The traditional RFP lacks perspective on what their future state could include.

Time Commitment

Managing the RFP process through final system selection is often overseen by the HR team. RFP management is an incredibly time-consuming project for an HR team in addition to managing their day-to-day responsibilities. Given the lack of industry insight and the overwhelming amount of information, it’s hard for the project team to cut through the noise and determine if the vendor is a good fit.  It would not be surprising to encounter that salesperson who will tell you that their software can do everything exactly as you need, only to find out later (once you are implementing) that it was a bit of a stretch.

Industry Knowledge

A traditional RFP process has no intrinsic relationship-building or dialogue. Therefore, it’s tough for vendors to understand a potential client’s goals beyond the technical. The list of requirements, outlined in black and white, may not lead to the best solution without some discovery discussion. Without those conversations, the people tasked with the RFP process may not have the experience to represent and thus ask the right questions. Everyone needs to understand how the company arrived at this juncture. The business drivers and success criteria are critical to ensuring the finalist vendors align with the business. When transpiring directly between the organization and vendors, the RFP process may skip over these drivers and criteria.

Fast Path Methodology

With this information in mind, let’s contrast the Fast Path Methodology to see the benefits clients reap when utilizing this approach over the traditional RFP. Some aspects of the formal RFP process are still used, but the key differentiator of this process is the focus on requirements gathering. Through surveys and meaningful fact-finding sessions, requirements are gathered and the desired future state is documented. A detailed requirements document is created with the data from this discovery process. The requirements document reflects a deep understanding of the client’s needs beyond the basics, including decision drivers and success criteria, representing what is unique and critical to the client’s business.

Once this discovery is complete, the information is analyzed by HCM industry experts and compared against the existing vendor marketplace to identify vendors that meet the client’s needs. Having experts handle this first-pass evaluation reduces the time and makes what would have been an overwhelming task, much easier. Moving forward, only those pre-qualified vendors will be invited to participate in the RFP process and subsequent demonstrations.

Customized Requirements

As a result, a customized RFP is created to accurately reflect the client’s needs so that the vendor responds to the factors critical to the client and their processes (the standard requirements) rather than providing a blanket reply. A feature unique to this methodology is how vendors are asked to respond. While traditional RFPs require vendors to answer all questions, the Fast Path method instructs vendors to respond to and comment only on the requirements they do not fully meet. They are requested to include an explanation of why they do not meet these criteria. This explanation streamlines the review, clarifies where systems are limited, and provides an opportunity to discuss how to address the gaps in functionality.

The vendors return the completed RFP and requested documents. Your consulting team coordinates demonstrations on your team’s behalf. The RFP and product demonstrations are critical to a holistic understanding of the vendors’ capabilities. While the RFP details “what” the vendors can do, the product demonstrations are their opportunity to show “how” the system performs with an intentional focus on the client’s requirements. The client’s requirements are utilized as scripts for the vendor to follow, ensuring the product demonstration highlights critical functionality. Then during the product demonstrations, the client’s requirements are used to score the vendor’s abilities. Strategic alignment with the client’s requirements and vendors’ abilities ensures the vendors are vetted, at each juncture, against the client’s organizational needs and priorities.

Upon completing all Fast Path activities, the HCM industry experts analyze the resulting data. They synthesize the data into a report showcasing how the vendors match the organization’s requirements. The result is a comprehensive document with all the relevant information in a clean, thorough, easily digestible format. Which becomes a tool the client can use to analyze the viable vendors and make the best selection.

Streamlined Process Results

The combination of these activities under the Fast Path RFP methodology cuts the vendor selection process in half, down to 6-8 weeks, versus the traditional RFP timeline of 12 – 16 weeks. This process dramatically reduces the time commitment required from the client. By intentionally focusing on delivering only viable vendors that meet the client’s needs, the Fast Path RFP is a time-saving option that instills a client with confidence that they have the information necessary to select the best possible vendor. The Fast Path RFP is a proven formula that enables long-term success for their organization.

Additionally, this methodology includes partnering with an HRchitect expert consultant with the industry knowledge and experience to guide the process. Their extensive knowledge is invaluable in quickly assessing and identifying requirements, gaps, and qualified vendors. Their expertise provides further time savings and confidence to the client team. Consultants understand the value that an RFP brings to the table. Our Fast Path RFP process capitalizes on that value while creating significant efficiencies in other areas to yield the best result for clients.

Based on this comparison, when it’s time to select a new HCM solution, the choice is clear. The best methodology on the market today is the Fast Path RFP by HRchitect.  Contact us now to learn how the Fast Path RFP Methodology can help you streamline your HCM search.

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About the Author

Michelle Peart brings over 25 years of experience in Human Resources and consulting. She is one of our HCM experts in our Strategic Services division. Michelle is a results-oriented, highly organized HR professional with a proven track record for developing and implementing new procedures and leading client evaluation and selection projects.

For more information on Michelle, check out her bio on LinkedIn.