If you are just starting on your ServiceNow journey, chances are you’re excited (and maybe a bit overwhelmed) about the transformation your company is about to undertake. For this very reason, most companies choose to undergo this journey by engaging with a ServiceNow partner, to help you with your implementation process.
That means the first step of your journey will be writing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to determine the best partner for your needs. So, how can you ensure that you’re choosing the right partner? With almost 100 ServiceNow RFP responses written (and won) in the past year alone, we’re here to help you build the best template to generate the best results for your partner search!
A RFP, specifically for ServiceNow services, allows you to gather information from multiple vendors to help you decide which ServiceNow partner will be the best fit for your implementation needs – and more importantly, your holistic Digital Transformation journey.
Over the past 6 years, we’ve seen RFPs change from tactical ServiceNow implementations to these massive Digital Transformation catalysts. The exercise of writing RFP questions and reviewing potential vendor answers is no longer about just searching for a vendor to just help you implement the technology, but it’s about searching for a partner who understands your business’s goals.
This blog outlines the seven features all the best RFPs have in common plus tips on how to assess your responses to pick the best possible ServiceNow partner for your needs. We’ve even created a brand new RFP template available for download to help you along the way.
The 7 Components to Writing an Extraordinary ServiceNow RFP
1. Provide a Clear Vision
The way to get the best outcome for your ServiceNow implementation is to start with a vision – not a list of what you want a vendor to help you build. Key questions to ask yourself when you’re developing your vision may include:
- What are the processes you’re doing today?
- What are the business problems you’re trying to solve?
- What’s working well today and what needs to be improved?
- What’s a must-have vs. nice to have?
By clearly outlining what you are looking to achieve with ServiceNow, you will get a more insightful and consultative answer in your response. Remember, you’re seeking a third-party vendor because they are the experts in what they do (hopefully), so by stating your vision they can guide you in the actual ServiceNow products that will give you the best result and avoid the typical “gotchas.”
For example, prior to becoming a client of ours, a large health insurance company included a vision map, which included a vision statement and guiding principles, in their Request for Proposal. For example, below is a sample vision map for a proposed HR Service Delivery project.
Remember: Even the most experienced consultants will be loath to suggest an alternative to what you’ve already proposed for yourself. So, don’t make your job harder than it needs to be. Set the vision and let the consultants do their job.
2. Ask Vendors for an Executive Summary
In the executive summary section of your RFP, you should ask vendors for their qualification to implement and consult on your project. This section should roughly consist of a one-page response from your responding ServiceNow partners.
This is also the section where the best partners should truly differentiate themselves. Effective responses should include:
- Proposed ServiceNow key solution requirements after deep consideration of your company’s vision. Hint: In your RFP, provide an architecture diagram of what’s in place today. If you provide the prospective vendors with what your solution looks like before, you will get creative after’s!
- Vendor’s experience with similar industry project roll-outs
- Size and breadth and depth of ServiceNow practice
- Description of what sets that vendor apart from others in the ServiceNow ecosystem
- Summary of implementation approach (including timeline, governance, organizational support, and organizational change management, Use Cases)
3. Give Vendors a Timeline to Respond (But also request a recommended project timeline, too!)
First, when you are requesting proposals from ServiceNow partners, remember to include a timeline with deadlines like when the responses are due, RFP evaluation will be completed and finalists will be announced, or references will be checked.
Lesson: You’re going to get what you give. If you only give 5 days for a vendor to respond, chances are you won’t get the quality response you’re looking for.
In your response, you should expect to receive a thoughtful timeline from your vendor about the proposed project. For example, Acorio breaks down our projects to include a series of phases:
- Initiate and Define phase (establish high-level build architecture, governance model, project and story planning, roadmap, advisory, or health check)
- The plan and build stage (configuration of the solution is completed with regular sprint reviews for client feedback)
- The test and transition phase (release testing, client acceptance testing, OCM, training, enablement documentation).
A reasonable, well-documented timeline that includes testing, organizational change management, and training will indicate that your prospective partner understands both the power of ServiceNow and the full scope of your project. Look carefully at the architecture and sprint review process to suss out how well your partner understands your existing framework, and what it will be like to work with them. Ultimately, we find that our clients are looking for more than “just an implementor,” but a partner that will help guide your project and drive real business value.
4. Governance Model
The first step to any successful ServiceNow transformation (and the ongoing management of the platform) is establishing a governance model.
Ask vendors for their recommendations for the breakdown of what a team might look like, considering roles and responsibilities – not just for the project itself but the platform. This is a key area we see differentiating technical implementations from digital transformation journeys.
The governance and project management sections are also good places to ask how many of the core team will stay with your organization throughout your transformation journey. You want to make sure that your Sales team isn’t rolling out their top talent, only to switch them out for more junior resources once you sign on the dotted line.
5. Organizational Change Management (OCM)
OCM is the “people side” of change management. It is a framework for managing the effect of new business processes, technological processes and changes in your organizational structure or even cultural changes within an enterprise. OCM and OCM strategies set expectations and provide the tools needed to learn new behaviors.
Ask your vendor if they provide services in organizational change management and how they recommend rolling out OCM strategies depending on the unique implementation. You want someone who will go beyond communication and look for differentiated, creative approaches to change the hearts and minds of your organization.
6. Sample Projects, Case Studies & References
Always, always, always ask to see case studies from the vendors you are considering. It’s important to know you can trust your vendor in not only their technical expertise of the platform but their expertise working with clients in similar industry and size as your own organization.
Break down at least three projects and client size, client industry, solution(s) provided, and business objectives achieved by the client. An example breakdown of this may look like:
7. Partner Methodology: Will you work well together?
Ultimately partner methodology comes down to asking, “how do we better partner with one another?” In this section of your RFP, ask vendors what their methodology is and compare it with how your own internal team works.
Completeness of the methodology is important. You should be asking “how” – how do you build workshops? How do you gather requirements? How do you execute and build? How do you perform testing? How do you define your OCM plan? How does this all work on-site? These open-ended questions will help you determine if the responding vendor is the right fit for your organization. Beware of boiler-plate responses, what you really want if to understand the heart of what your future consultancy will be like (and not have someone who is just answering to tick off a box).
Finally, the last step of writing a killer RFP: Do your back-end homework! Check what their references actually say about them. Talking to others who have worked with your prospective team is the only way you’ll be able to confirm the vendors perspective on methodology and partnership.
Another element to your RFP is making sure that financial investment is “apples to apples” across partners. For example, if you’re comparing total hours, and one partner includes a testing phase and one does not, then clearly the partner will be more expensive up-front but potentially save you a lot of time in rework down the road.
Download your Own RFP Template Today
As you can tell, the RFP process is more than just vetting if a partner can implement the technology. You want to vet if they will be a cultural fit for your company, if they see your vision and understand your overall desire for digital transformation, and confirm they’re also an expert in the “people” and “process” side of the implementation too.
Overall, we suggest sending out 5 RFPs to partners you have done research on through the partner portal – think about it, if you’re requesting thorough responses, how many of those do you actually want to read?
To help you get started on the process, we designed an RFP template based on the guidelines above. Download it here!