November 9, 2020
Writing a telematics RFP can be difficult. Not only do you need to know what your company is looking for, but you also need to have an understanding of all the technological features that are currently available in the market. RFPs also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Their size, format, and breadth are up to the issuing company. Read on for some quick tips to help make sure your RFPs garner the right attention and responses.
Before trying a new recipe, you probably shop for ingredients. Issuing a telematics RFP is a similar process. It is good to think big picture, and then narrow down your scope to minute details. For example, is the RFP intended to improve your Hours of Service logs or to find a fleet management solution with real-time GPS tracking? Answers to these questions will help inform a streamlined RFP.
Every telematics RFP also needs to be specific about the features that a company is looking for. The features help prospects decide whether or not to submit a bid based on their product’s compatibility with the desired solution. Clarity is advantageous to both sides; vendors do not want to spend time on a proposal with a poor product fit as much as companies would rather not waste their time with an inadequate proposal.
It is also helpful to divide your RFP into “Mandatory” and “Nice to Have” categories in order to be clear about what is important to your company. For example, some fleet managers may place real-time GPS data and an open API into the “Mandatory” category, while two factor authentication capabilities might just be a “Nice to Have” feature. These categories give bidders a chance to get to know more about what your company values in a prospective partnership. Vendors may also be more likely to incorporate your “Nice to Have” list into their product roadmap if features have been requested often enough.
When an RFP is released, be clear about which requirements are necessary for a complaint response.
Include a list of requirements in the RFP that all responding parties will need to provide in order to be considered. This can be as simple as a list of desired features, or as involved as a series of forms that need to be signed by an authorized representative of the company. Is procurement at your company contingent on real-time data, in-house support services, and evidence of sufficient liability insurance? Make that clear. Clarity ensures that responding companies will be more likely to satisfy all of the conditions needed in order to be considered for the bid. Disqualification on a technicality can hurt the issuer as much as the vendor by excluding what otherwise might have been a winning bid. So remember: be straightforward and upfront about requirements.
Nothing hurts a proposal’s potential more than a tight deadline. If you want qualified proposals, give vendors enough time to respond. In order to get signatures, or the most up to date information, multiple stakeholders across the organization will likely need to be involved. This will require time. Give vendors at least two weeks to respond.
Additionally, consider slating time for a question and answer period so interested bidders can feel like they have all the information they need.
When evaluating potential vendors to complete your telematics project, it is important to understand how your company’s data will be secured. To solve this problem, consider including a separate security questionnaire with the proposal.
If collating security questionnaires with your company’s personal standards would take too much time and effort, think about accepting common industry-recognized security certifications instead. Validation of a company’s processes by a third party is a useful way to confirm that its practices are secure without taking valuable time away from your own company’s security or IT team. For example, a SOC 2 Type II report is an acceptable stand-in for many security questionnaires. Accepting a security report can save your employees valuable time, while still giving your company the peace of mind that your data is in secure hands.
When your company issues an RFP, fleet managers should take into account additional services a company may offer. It is important to include questions referring to these other elements in the initial RFP so that the services do not get put on the backburner. Telematics is not the only product you will be getting when you choose a provider. Other important considerations are support, implementation, project management, and pace of innovation. Here are some questions to consider when finalizing an RFP:
Does the company offer 24/7 support hours?
Does the company offer a free trial or implementation services?
Will the vendor continue to innovate once you sign a contract?
These are great questions to ask bidders, and also a useful way to weed out less-than-desirable offers.
Fleet managers should also ask about the kind of warranty telematics systems offer. Drivers are using fleet vehicles constantly—be it in the city or on back country roads, in great or in poor weather. Fleet vehicles are racking up miles on their odometer, and maintenance needs to be completed regularly. The wear and tear that vehicles endure has an amount of risk involved. In order to minimize the amount of downtime your fleet vehicles experience, a good warranty program is of the utmost importance for your fleet management system. A warranty program with overnight replacement of faulty devices is essential to make sure you only experience expected downtime. There is no need for fleet managers to have to worry about getting replacement units for a fleet maintenance system. Your telematics solution should work seamlessly and act as oil in the finely-tuned machine that is your fleet management program. An excellent warranty is the way to make that happen.
It is important to give bidders as much information as possible about your company’s use case when issuing a telematics RFP. Be specific about the number of vehicles and drivers, types of vehicles, and the integrations you are looking for. The more information you give about what your company needs, the more vendors can help solve your problem.
Knowing what problems a company is looking to solve allows vendors insight into the features their proposals should highlight. Interested in investing in better metrics to help your fleet managers accurately analyze their telematics data? If so, responding telematics providers might highlight their GPS tracking and vehicle location accuracy, tachograph-enhanced speed data, and idling measurement. If your company prioritizes sustainability, you might look for functionality such as a fuel consumption report, a mobile app to cut down on paper documents, or a vendor serious about the health and safety of their employees in the midst of COVID-19.
In addition, in-depth details about your company helps vendors prepare more accurate pricing information. Whatever the requests, and however unique the use case, solicitations should be prepared to give detailed information so that vendors can create a truly bespoke pricing quote.
Writing an RFP is a time-intensive project. Samsara understands how much work is needed to write and issue an effective telematics RFP. To make things easier for you, Samsara has created an RFP template that companies can use to screen potential vendors.
Put together by a vendor that has seen countless use cases and applications for telematics programs, Samsara’s RFP template acts as an aggregate of all of the most important and value-adding features that make a telematics platform priceless for the end user. It includes features such as the accuracy of GPS tracking, ability to see a breadcrumb trail, routing or integrations with routing software, and personalized account management.
If you are interested in taking advantage of Samsara’s free telematics or safety RFP templates, reach out to your account representative.
Due to the number of considerations that go into it, writing an RFP takes a lot of time and effort. Remember these tips to ensure that your company receives quality responses. And do not be afraid to use a template RFP. Samsara has template RFPs available for telematics and safety programs. Please reach out to your account representative for more information.