Large multi-page LMS RFPs (Request For Proposal) and RFIs (Request For Information) flood vendors’ emails. Clients spend countless hours putting together what they feel are cogent, precise specifications to select the best Learning Management System or the best eLearning content developer. Vendors spend countless hours trying to decipher exactly what the client wants and needs. Isn’t there a better way? Too often clients do not properly research the potential vendor base. They submit LMS RFPs to anyone who pops up in a web search for elearning, LMS platforms, online training systems, custom content development, web training, online learning et al. Not all vendors are created equally.

iStock_000016330617_SmallThe best approach is to truly understand what your needs and requirements are. First. Before you submit an LMS RFP. Do not expect your elearning or online learning solution to come from a shot-gun submission of RFPs. You need to know what you want and why. Then you can research potential vendors appropriately.

  • Do you know what your business goals are? Tell the vendors.

  • Do you know what your learning objectives are? Tell the vendors.

  • Do you know what learning challenges you hope to address? Tell the vendors.

  • Do you know who your audience is and what they want? Tell the vendors.

  • Where does this learning initiative fit into your company? Tell the vendors.

  • Do you know your eLearning content? Do you have samples? Do you know the production value you want? Tell the vendors. Look at samples, ask questions about artistic design, interactivity, instructional design, process and quality assurance.

  • Do you know your technical specifications and requirements? Tell the vendors.

  • Do you know what your budget is and is it approved? Tell the vendors.

I know, I know, this is heresy. You want the vendor to tell you the price and then you’ll decide what the budget is. I am telling you that you will get the best solution if you work with your vendors on budget from the beginning.

That is why it is important to be selective in your RFP process. Only submit the LMS RFP when you clearly understand your goals and requirements. Then, submit it only to the best suited vendors. And, then, work with them to develop the best solution and budget. They truly want to help provide the best solution, for them and for you.

And if you already have some preferred vendors, ask them to help you refine your specifications, requirements and goals. Trust me, they will be happy to help.

Oh, and, to all of you who submit LMS RFPs and never provide feedback to the responding vendors: Shame on you!