The underlying theme in all of the above points is simply this: The “big guys’” way of doing business makes the RFP and ultimate selection process a minefield for institutions to navigate. RFPs are supposed to “get the facts on paper,” but they really don’t. They can’t. And here is why.
Until you have signed with a vendor and are actually in implementation, you cannot possibly have any idea how or if they can, for example, enter your degree requirements into their system in such a way that it is a comprehensive and accurate representation of your actual degree requirements.
You can ask all the pressing questions you want, you can ask a vendor to describe and show their method of entering degree requirements, but until you actually get into the process of doing it, you will not know the limitations of the system. And by then, too much water is under the bridge, including a whole RFP process (and it is virtually impossible to unring that bell!).
By contrast to the RFP process, you really should insist that the vendor put up a pilot instance for you (at no cost, of course) and enter in the major of your choice. That’s what we are happy to do for you, because we know that we can so quickly do it!
That will be your clearest insight into what doing business with a vendor will be like over the long haul. In that process you will see if the vendor is quickly responsive, if their system really can do for your institution what you need it to do, and what sort of actual investment you will ultimately make by going with each vendor.
And if a vendor is unwilling to do a pilot for you, then you should seriously ask yourself why that is.
RFPs are like “talk.” Talk is cheap.
By contrast, we are happy to do a pilot for you. We can do it quickly and responsively, because those two attributes define Conclusive Systems. And that pilot will contain your actual course offerings as well as some of your toughest majors (you choose which ones). That pilot will have some faux students against which you can run sample audits to see how the system performs and that our representation of your degree requirements is actually completely accurate and maintainable.
Rather than a lame, inaccurate RFP process that doesn’t even really give you the information you most need, a pilot gives you hands-on experience with the company and system where the rubber meets the road.
We have just heard too many horror stories from schools that did the RFP, selected one of the “big guy” vendors, and then spent the next three years (and more) trying to get the system live (after repeated failures), after spending tons of money on hardware, tons of money on human resources… and after all this, they still had a slow, and fundamentally inaccurate system.
That result is the exact opposite of our results. And we will prove it for you with a no-cost pilot that takes virtually no time or effort on your part. RFPs take time and effort! Wouldn’t it be better to put comparable time and effort into evaluating systems that actually purport to be your system? Wouldn’t it be better to see how (what would be) your system is actually going to work for you?
Conclusive Systems is in business entirely to serve your interests, not the interests of shareholders and high-priced suits in corner offices. So, we suggest that you really should adopt a selection method that has a much higher chance than an RFP of showing you what you are really going to get from a system and the vendor.