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Blindly Sending RFPs
24 February 2009, by , in Data Management, No comments

I sometimes receive RFPs from associations actually looking for association management software (which I do not produce). If you’ve ever attended one of my sessions on selecting a new AMS, you know that one of my cardinal rules is that the RFP should go out to no more than five vendors. So when I receive an RFP from an association looking for association management software, I know they haven’t called anyone prior to sending it. This means the association is sending the RFP to anyone and everyone they can identify that might be able to respond. This is a huge mistake.

There are over 100 companies that claim to produce “membership software” of some kind. I personally keep track of over 30 companies providing association management software. Not every one of these companies is going to be a good match for a given association’s needs. In fact, very few are. So if you send an RFP to all 30 (or 100) companies, you’re completely missing the mark with over 90% of them (and wasting everyone’s time).

The solution is actually quite simple (aside from hiring me): Create a “short list” of potential vendors (maybe 8-10) and then call each one before you send the RFP. That’s right, call them. And talk to them. And tell them what you’re looking for. And find out if they’re a good potential match before you send the RFP. This brief investment of time in advance will save you loads of heartache later on.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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