Nailing Your EHS Software Procurement – Five Tricks To Write An RFP That Software Vendors Will Love

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Nailing Your EHS Software Procurement – Five Tricks To Write An RFP That Software Vendors Will Love

EHS software projects rarely go off without a hitch. Conversely, implementations are resource intensive, often go over budget, exceed deadlines and – in the worst cases – after all that effort results in an unsatisfactory outcome. So, who is to blame for these failures? Overpromising vendors? Ill-informed buyers? From the Verdantix team’s experience, it depends on who you ask. Over a decade of researching EHS software vendors and providing consulting services to support corporate EHS software buyers through strategy and procurement, Verdantix has built a strong understanding of the implementation challenges facing both parties.

If we trace them back, what are the root causes of poor EHS software project outcomes? The vast majority of failures come down to corporates rushing three critical project prerequisites: process analysis, digital strategy development and RFP design (see Verdantix Strategic Focus: Three Critical Steps To Complete For A Successful EHS Software Project). The culmination of this prerequisite work is producing an RFP. As the initiating step of procuring a software platform, getting off on the right foot is integral to a firm’s project success. Direct feedback from EHS software vendors, however, suggests that many RFPs fall short of the mark.

When writing an effective RFP, understanding the end goal of the project is key. This clear vision provides vendors with the necessary context (challenges, metrics, improvement initiatives), to better interpret a firm’s unique software needs. While documenting functional and technical requirements is a vital part of any RFP, organizations should ask more nuanced questions – about implementation, for example, or overcoming current problems – that will make it easier to differentiate between vendors. Embedding this into an RFP allows firms to get to the crux of their issue: this is our starting point, these are the challenges we face, here are our constraints, and this is where we want to get to – how can you support us on this journey?

To write a more effective RFP, here are five tips EHS software buyers should keep top of mind before starting their procurement journey.

1. Do your due diligence.
Make sure to do prerequisite work, involve the right stakeholders, develop a robust strategy and have an end goal in mind.

2. Engage with vendors beforehand. 
Don’t blindside vendors with an RFP. Get in touch, let them know about your challenges, and discuss the critical factors that will make the project a success. 

3. Keep it as concise as possible.
Firms typically have too many requirements. There is a Goldilocks zone between being thorough and drowning vendors with too many requirements. Let them focus on answering the biggest, most important questions. 

4. Prioritize requirements. 
You must have flexibility with an RFP. Verdantix uses a MoSCoW framework to prioritize what is a ‘must have’ requirement, compared to ‘should haves’ or ‘could haves’. 

5. Involve IT throughout.
It is vital to leverage the expertise of IT throughout RFP development to make sure questions about implementation and synergy with your existing tech stack are included.

For more research about EHS software best practices, visit our EHS research portal. To understand more about the consulting services Verdantix offers, click here.


Tom Brown

Senior Analyst

Tom is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice. His current research agenda focuses on a range of EHS topics, including high-risk safety controls, contractor management, environmental services and EHS digitization strategy. Prior to joining Verdantix, Tom achieved a Master’s in Chemical Engineering from the University of Nottingham.