RFP Development – Iterative, Collaborative and Empowering

I’ve done my share of software and hardware procurements – not as many as some consultants – but enough to know my way around an RFP (Request for Proposal).   And the truth is that RFPs are really horrible. They are full of contract language that few people understand and, unfortunately, they are often loaded with requirements that the Library doesn’t understand; or worse, requirements that the vendors themselves don’t understand!

I’ve seen the same RFP issued by many different libraries. Some of these RFPs were actually created by the vendor and has a few gotcha requirements that ensure their competitors will get the boot. I’ve also seen RFPs that have conflicting requirements – this happens when the Library doesn’t understand the requirements they’ve included.

But the development of an RFP has the opportunity to be an empowering experience for the library if it is done correctly. However, this requires leadership and time. It’s not as simple as doing a couple focus groups and checking off the requirements from someone else’s RFP.

 

Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library RFID Procurement

Lori Ayre worked with Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library to meet with Library stakeholders and clarify the short and long-term goals related to their planned RFID procurement and to learn more about the realities of RFID use in libraries. Building on this initial meeting, Ayre worked with the Library to develop an RFP and procurement plan. Ayre drafted the RFP, developed a scoring instrument, and also created a demo script and scoring instrument for the demo.  

The Open Source ILS: Why So Many Are Choosing Koha or Evergreen and How To Include Them in Your Next Procurement

This was a joint presentation with Henry Bankhead of Los Gatos Public Library, Kevin Pischke of William Jessup University, Scott Hines of Palo Alto University, and Deborah Lipoma of Santa Cruz Public Library. I began with an overview of the ILS and Open Source ILS marketplace.  Then, each presenter talked about their own benefits and challenges along the way to moving to Koha or Evergreen. Finally, each presenter provided some useful procurement tips.

SNAP ILS Procurement

Developed requirements for an integrated library system. The project included providing a set of "starter requirements" appropriate for this library system and working with focus groups to finalize and prioritize the requirements. The final requirements list will be utilized in a forthcoming RFP. Working in partnership with Quipu Group.

Procurement and an Open Source ILS

There was some discussion on the Koha Mailing List recently about how to go about procuring an open source ILS...or at least, how to remain open to the possibility of moving to either an open source or proprietary ILS.  The thing about the traditional procurement process is that it makes if very awkward (at best) to unmanageable (at worst) for the open source service providers for two reasons: