When a company decides to install a PIM solution, as with any other software solution, its implementation involves great financial and human investment. Time needs to be spent selecting the future PIM partner and preparing the call for bids. This process enables the company to compare different providers to choose the solution best suited to their requirements.
To prepare this call for bids requires a consistent and well-structured method broken down into various steps: global market analysis, preparation of the consultation file, submission of the file to an initial list of providers, receipt of completed files, meeting with service providers, creation of a short list, choice of service provider and contract agreement.
Discover the steps to follow for a successful call for bids for a PIM solution.
Step n°1: Global analysis of the market
From the outset of the project the company should appoint a person in charge of the call for bids and set up a multi-disciplinary project team involving the different divisions (marketing, sales, IT, procurement…). The team's involvement at every stage of the project will ensure its success and will facilitate its acceptation among all company employees.
Once the different roles have been determined, the company should gather general information on the PIM market and identify the main providers and their positioning. One way of doing this is to check the resources on their websites: blog articles, white papers, customer case studies…
This analysis is the first step in the call for bids process. It gives the company a more precise idea of the market and allows them to understand the different solutions available.
At this stage, the company can contact several potential partners to help them clarify their needs and to get an idea of the general costs and technical constraints involved in a PIM project.
Step n°2: Preparation of the consultation file
To prepare a call for bids for a PIM solution, you need to put together a consultation file. It must be clear and well-structured: brief presentation of the company, summary of motivations, functional and technical specifications, key provisional dates (offer return deadline, decision deadline, project start date…), table of all requirements to be filled in by the service provider…
It is important to provide a comprehensive consultation file to give service providers a thorough understanding of your company's needs and what you expect from the solution, in particular in terms of the features provided.
Step n°3: Submission of the file to an initial list of service providers
Once the consultation file has been prepared, it should be sent to a list of potential partners (5 to 10 maximum). Each service provider should analyze the file and complete each field in the call for bids table to provide the company with detailed information on their offer.
Step n°4: Receipt of completed files
After receiving each of the completed files from the service providers, the company should study them in detail to compare each offer. At this stage it is essential to involve the entire project team in the scoring process. For example, every team member can give a grade for each of the criteria, this will result in a median grade and enable the company to rank the service providers and select the best ones.
Step n°5: Meeting with service providers
The chosen service providers are then invited to make a broad presentation of their solution. During this demonstration, the company can find out more about the features in the proposed PIM and ask any questions. They can also use this initial presentation to ensure that the service provider has really understood their preoccupations and to gauge the quality of interactions with them.
Step n°6: Creation of a short list
After these meetings, we recommend that you create a short list of your 2 or 3 preferred providers and meet with them again for more in-depth discussions.
At this stage they must provide a demo using data provided by the company with a series of actions that you would like to see (e.g.: demonstration of profiles with different user rights, customized Excel export, batch modification of prices…). This demonstration is known as a POC (Proof Of Concept). By imposing the same constraints on each PIM solution, the comparison between them will be easier and more objective.
In the context of a call for bids for a PIM solution, it is vital to ask providers to present a POC. Implementing a PIM has a huge impact on the business, its production, and its teams: new working methods, new software tool, new processes… Choosing a PIM requires great professionalism and attention to detail.
This is also the phase during which the technical, functional, financial, and contractual elements of each of the offers in the short list are presented.
Step n°7: Choice of service provider and contract agreement
Based on these elements (market analysis, examination of consultation files, discussions…), the company will be able to make the best choice of service provider. They must also contact the providers that they are not choosing with feedback on the reasons for their choice.
The aim of the contract agreement phase is to finalize and sign the contractual documents containing all the elements negotiated during the previous phase.
It is essential to choose an experienced and reliable partner to ensure the success of your PIM project and this requires a high-quality call for bids. To achieve this, your consultation file needs to be robust and to contain a clear and well-structured call for bids table. This table will allow you to use relevant criteria to compare the different PIM solutions presented.
1 Ventana Research. Building a Business Case for PIM. ventanaresearch.com.