A request for proposal, or RFP, is important for businesses to ensure you get what you need.

A request for proposal, or RFP, is important for businesses to ensure you get what you need. 

Photo: Work Truck/Canva

Fleet managers have many reasons to seek a telematics or fleet management solution. It could be to improve productivity, increase driver safety, or reduce operating costs.

For most companies, a small series of engagements with a solution’s Sales Team to ask questions, see a demo and confirm pricing provides all the information needed.

For larger companies with unique or custom requirements, it’s critical that a request for proposal (RFP) clearly documents your key business priorities while, in return, getting a thorough set of responses tailored to your needs.

Here are five ways to make your next telematics RFP a resounding success from start to finish:

What is an RFP? According to the most generally accepted definition, a request for proposal, or RFP, is a document that solicits a proposal. This proposale is often made through a bidding process to potential suppliers, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service, or valuable asset.

Step 1: Start with a Conversation

Fleet management software doesn’t always require a customized approach to address specific telematics and operational intelligence needs.

Factors such as the fleet size, the number of drivers, and specific integration or custom API requirements are essential to beginning a successful search, but this doesn’t necessarily mean an RFP is required.

Discussing these many variables at the beginning of your process is important to determine the best path for engaging around your specific needs.

Step 2: Determine your Top Priorities

If an RFP is required, it’s important not to try and solve every issue or, conversely, go too broad in your requirements.

Whether you’re focused on improving driver safety, saving money on operational costs, or better serving your end customers, decide what those are before you start your RFP draft. Then, document your requirements and KPIs to get there.

You should expect your solution provider to quickly align to your KPIs which shows their understanding of your business and is a sign of a potential strategic partnership.

Step 3: Understand the Timeline

The length of the RFP process will be determined by your own team and its ability to come together.

Including your fleet manager, IT team, operations lead, finance lead, and any other people on your team closest to your fleet operations is recommended. All process members must offer their understanding and perspective to make this work. 

Having all stakeholders at the table from the start streamlines the process and promotes synergy regarding the goals and KPIs that need to be established.

Your RFP process timeline is impacted by many variables, including your own team and its ability...

Your RFP process timeline is impacted by many variables, including your own team and its ability to come together. 

Photo: Work Truck/Canva

Step 4: Avoid Common RFP Mistakes

If you cannot determine your ROI at the conclusion of your RFP engagements, something is amiss, and you should discuss this with the provider you choose.

A smarter approach is to be clear about the ROI you expect and be open to starting small by solving key business problems and expanding to more solution areas over time.

Another common mistake: not outlining your key technical requirements. Think about your billing, dispatch, fuel management, and other systems you may need to integrate with, as well as existing vehicle technology like embedded safety systems that must work in parallel with your new solution.

Giving the solution provider a full 360-degree view of your technology and operations is critical to determining the opportunities for additional value.

Step 5: Reap the Benefits of Technology

Fleet management technology is evolving fast with developments such as smarter sensors, more intuitive software, and artificial intelligence (AI). These advancements make the availability of near real-time and historical data greater than ever.

To provide fleet managers with more insight into dangerous events and in-cab coaching to alert drivers in real-time of high-risk driving behaviors, Verizon Connect has unveiled an advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) dashcam to enable real-time detection of potentially dangerous driving events and to boost driver safety.

Typically, these solutions are just the beginning. Work closely with a solution’s Sales Team to understand the recent evolution of their technology and use it to indicate where they’re likely to innovate in the future.

Given that the cost of switching providers can be high, RFPs aren’t meant to identify short-term partners – you’re beginning the journey of identifying a strategic partnership to last for years to come.

5 Tips: Make the Most of Your  Fleet Management Tech RFP
5 Tips: Make the Most of Your Fleet Management Tech RFP
About the Author: Kevin Aries is manager of global product success for Verizon Connect. This article was authored and edited according to WT editorial standards and style. Opinions expressed may not reflect that of WT.