Many content management vendors offer tools to help you prepare your requirements document and request for proposals (RFP), also called a request for information (RFI), or invitation to tender in some countries. Some offer return-on-investment (ROI) calculators, which can be very useful with management and clients when you are making your business case.

The best RFP tools are from vendor-neutral consultants. Start with Bud Porter-Roth’s book Request for Proposal ($40). Chapter 16 of Bob Boiko's Content Management Bible ($35) is a comprehensive checklist you can use to assemble your own specifications, and there are requirements checklists in books like Ann Rockley's Managing Enterprise Content and JoAnn Hackos Managing Your Documentation Projects. Boiko's Metatorial CMS Planner ($200) and James Robertson's Content Management Requirements Toolkit ($550) provide tools and templates to work through the process.

Our CMS Review Features List is another resource for specific items to include in your RFP.

The RFP should include the weighting criteria for your different requirements. Simple yes/no checkboxes are not enough. You want to tell the vendor as much as possible about your needs so they can determine if their tool is a good fit for you. So multi-level priorities are best. One way is to use words like Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won't Have (the so -called MoSCoW project priorities method). Or you might assign numeric priorities, from 0 to 5 (where 5 = Mandatory, 4 = Very important, 3 = Important, 2 = Nice to have, 1 = Not important, 0 = Not needed).

RFP Templates
ROI Calculators

Most ROI calculators are downloadable Excel spreadsheets. Some are online forms that can be read by the vendor to assess their fit with your needs. Others are Flash-based.

Other resources:

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