8 Steps To Write A Winning RFP For Virtual Classroom Software

8 Steps To Write A Winning RFP For Virtual Classroom Software
Summary: You need vendor proposals to get the best value for money. But where do you even begin? This article features 8 steps to write a top-notch RFP for your new virtual classroom LMS.

Creating A Proposal For Virtual Classroom Software Vendors

I like to think of virtual classroom software RFPs as an invitation. You welcome vendors to submit their proposals since they have all the information they need to draft a spot-on response. This simplifies the selection process for your team. It’s a win-win situation. The catch is that you need to include certain elements in your request to get results. Otherwise, LMS companies won’t know what you’re after or why you need their product in the first place. And you end up with generic proposals that don’t really address your virtual classroom training requirements. So, let’s demystify the whole RFP drafting process once and for all. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to write a winning request for virtual classroom software.

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1. Outline The Project Scope In Your Virtual Classroom Software RFP

The first section addresses your project and company background. There’s no need to include your business’s origin story. Just give a brief introduction so that they understand your expectations, goals, and desired outcomes. The rest of the RFP will touch on these elements individually. You can also mention your current software and content format to prevent compatibility issues later on.

2. Highlight Must-Have LMS Requirements For Your Virtual Classroom Program

This part of the request covers your buying requirements. Basically, all the features and functions you need to warrant the investment. It’s best to include an itemized list for the two top categories:

  • Features
    Include all the must-have features you’re looking for in your new virtual classroom software. Be as specific as possible. For example, don’t just mention eLearning content creation tools. Tell them exactly what you need from the platform, like built-in authoring, assignments engine, and personalized learning paths.
  • Tech specs
    Do employees need to access the online course on certain devices? What is your preferred format? For example, do you need a Learning Management System that is Tin Can API compliant? Highlight all the tech specs and deployment options you require. You can also include support services and vendor online training resources in this section of the RFP.

3. Clarify Your Budget And Timeline To Define Cost Issues

Virtual classroom LMS budgets can get a bit tricky because there are different pricing models. You can include the overall pricing for platforms that involve a one-time licensing fee. But you need to highlight the training budget for each employee if the vendor charges per user. For instance, you’re willing to spend an X amount for each active user, and that includes vendor support services, updates, etc. Another item worth mentioning is the implementation timeline. How quickly do you need to roll out the system, including setup and customization?

4. Include Employee Preferences And Staff Size In Your Submission

Employee accessibility preferences and training styles are a crucial part of the LMS selection process because they’re the ones who use the LMS to collaborate with peers and build vital skills at a distance. You should also include staff size and future plans for expansion. For example, you currently employ 500 employees, but you’ll onboard another 100 for the holiday season. As s result, you need an LMS with flexible pricing options and scalability so that you can add more users.

5. Mention Current Online Training Challenges In Your Virtual Classroom Software RFP

If you already own a Learning Management System, explain its shortcomings and how the new software must address them. For example, you’re looking for a virtual classroom Learning Management System with more interactivity and collaboration tools as well as an asset online training library with images, templates, and characters that pertain to your niche. This is also your opportunity to map out general online training challenges and how they impact your business goals.

6. Explain The Evaluation Criteria Regarding Your Ideal LMS Match

Vendors usually put a lot of thought into their proposals. Thus, they need to know that you’ll evaluate their responses fairly and what product features carry the most weight. For example, which are the functions that matter the most and why. You can even outline your scoring system and follow-up process so that they know what to expect. Will you contact them within a week to request more info? Must they be willing to meet with your L&D manager?

7. Review LMS Vendor Proposals With Expertise In Virtual Training

Vendors should submit their proposals before the deadline. If not, consider reaching out to give them a gentle nudge. Especially if they’re at the top of your list. Then you’re ready to review their responses and make your final decision. Try to get your team involved in the selection process so that they can provide feedback. Just make sure they’re aware of the scoring system and criteria beforehand.

8. Follow Up With Vendors For A Demo Or A Free Trial

There are several reasons why you may need to follow up with virtual classroom LMS vendors before signing the contract. Interviews and questionnaires can help break the tie and test vendor responsiveness. Trials and demos are another great way to experience all the features firsthand. Then schedule a meeting afterward to discuss your concerns. After you make your choice, contract negotiations kick-off. Be sure to seek legal advice if there are any vague terms or conditions. For instance, their definition of "active user" is still unclear and the vendor needs to reword that portion. It’s perfectly acceptable to suggest contract revisions before signing on the dotted line.

Learning Management System RFPs differ from outsourcing requests because you’re dealing with a product, although there are services involved but not to the extent of eLearning content providers. As a result, you don’t have to worry about conflicting schedules or misaligned skillsets. It’s primarily a fact-finding mission. That said, you should still qualify vendors to ensure they stand behind their product. A well-crafted proposal is a sign that the virtual classroom LMS company values CX and personalized support.

If you’re looking for other resources to help you navigate the “new normal,” we’ve got you covered. Our eBook, LMS Buying Guide: How Virtual Classroom Software Will Help You Overcome The COVID-19 Crisis, walks you through the entire process, from setting a realistic budget and identifying must-have features to finding the right support services to boost tool functionality.