I've actually had a few government entities utilize the information below to prepare better requests - one has even signed on for a 17 location/30 concurrent user Cloud Retailer point of sale system - nice!
Wow - it always amazes me to review any sort of point of sale related RFQ/RFI/RFP from a government entity as they are normally well over 50 pages long but manage to miss critical details. The one that I am reviewing right now provides some conflicting requirements, fails to include detailed information on existing equipment, and requests accounting functions from a point of sale system (without noting if accounting software is already in place or if accounting software is needed).
Thankfully, they have included a clarification period in the bid response period which is great! If you are a government entity, or even a larger organization searching for a new point of sale system, please considering the following:
- Have a team comprised from one person from each department develop the point of sale RFP
- No one member of the team has higher say than other members. For example, IT does not have veto rights over someone representing the cashier staff.
- You do need to have a project leader to keep the group focused and on task
- Have a replacement process in place should one member of the group need to be replaced or removed.
- Do remove members of the group who are only focused on their own departments needs or agenda and are not capable of seeing the big picture (I'm always amazed that organizations keep employees who can't see past their own agenda - regardless of what position they hold. Offer them retraining or show them the door as they are hurting more than they are helping. Interestingly enough, I've seen this equally among women and men, and yes, I have told them to pack it up and move on).
- Seek out multiple experts as needed that are unbiased or speak with other agencies who may have gone through the process recently - you can learn so much from them and they may even be able to provide you with some documentation that can be used.
- Keep in mind that you are asking a potential vendor to spend 20-40 hours preparing documentation so provide them with plenty of time to complete the documentation.
- Be realistic on expectations. For example, I had one member of a POS RFP team insist that the vendor compensate the organization for system outages. That is completely unrealistic. Does the power company compensate you when the power is out? Does Dell, IBM, or HP compensate you when a computer is down and needs to be replaced? Keep the requirements realistic or you may find it tough to find anyone to respond.
- Make sure that the RFP/RFQ/RFI is announced through proper channels. It would reflect poorly on your organization if the bid was awarded and a local company was missed and filed a freedom of information request exposing that your organization failed to include local companies in the process.
- Same goes for transparency. It is really easy to tell when a RFQ/RFP is being sent out even though a vendor has already been selected and the bid weighted in that vendors favor. Do this and expect a freedom of information request and a lot of media coverage that reflects poorly on your organization. I'm aware of one government entity that selected a vendor and bypassed the correct process. After spending well over $150 Million (!) in tax payers money, the vendor could not deliver a finished product and the entity had to almost start from scratch.
OK - enough for now. I realize that point of sale systems are a somewhat niche area of knowledge which one reason why this blog exists and why I pass along free advice.