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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
  • American Library Association CMS RFP 2005
    (full RFP, 31 pages, PDF)

  • Infotivity ECM RFP Template
    (1100 features/criteria, MS Excel, $329) Criteria include: Client/Server O.S. Content Capture/Indexing OCR/HWR/IWR Content Creation Content Ingestion Content Migration Content Reporting Digital Asset Management Security & Access Control Records Management Auto Content Capture Search & Retrieval Web Interface Workflow Processing Version Control Check In/Out Annotations Metadata Generation Web Content Management Authoring Tool Support Keyword Generation XML Capabilities Dynamic Page Creation Workflow Management Lifecycle Management Personalization Auto Conversion Library Services Collaboration Retention/Disposition API/J2EE development Multi-Channel Delivery

  • Klariti general-purpose RFP Template
    (59 pages, MS Word, $34)

  • Technology Evaluation Center ECM RFP Template
    (1225 features/criteria, MS Excel, $395) Criteria include: Content Authoring, Content Acquisition, Content Aggregation, Output and Content Presentation, Workflow Management, Version Control and Management, Development Tool Technical Architecture, Portal Support, Document and Records Management, Search and Indexing Management, Security Management, Digital Asset Management, Reporting and Statistics Management, Performance, Backup, and Recovery, Product Technology

  • Vasont Systems CMS Starter Kit
    (online HTML and 6 pages, PDF, requires registration) The CMS Starter Kit has tools and checklists to help you plan a content management strategy, research and select a content management system, and prepare for its implementation. The tools have a "print version" so you can print them and share them with others in your organization. Use these tools as a starting point and tailor them to suit your own business needs.

  • CMS Blueprint Service
    Prescient Digital has developed a seven week methodology to determine the best CMS for an organization that includes an RFP build and short-listing of vendors phase that will produce the end deliverable, an RFP that will be used to go to market to find the best vendor solution. It also includes management of the RFP, which includes submission to the short list of vendors, updating the evaluation matrix scores, follow-up with vendors, viewing demos, etc.

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.

  • AIIM UK ECM ROI Calculator
    (A membership benefit, requires login)

  • CrownPeak ROI calculator
    (Excel spreadsheet)

  • GlobalScape - Choosing a CMS
    (Whitepaper in MS Word, includes ROI table)

  • Hannon Hill CMS ROI calculator
    (Excel spreadsheet)

  • iMarkup Solutions Document Management ROI calculator
    (online form - Javascript)

  • Microsoft CM Server ROI calculator and customer profiles
    (Excel workbook) This is the Nucleus Research multi-sheet workbook filled in with MS CMS 2002 data.

  • Nucleus Research Content Management ROI Financial Analysis Tool
    (Excel spreadsheet, free, requires registration)

  • Rockley Group ROI Calculator
    (Excel workbook) This calculator has been designed to assist you in calculating your ROI. Please forward questions or suggestions for improvement to Refer to "Chapter 3: Assessing return on investment for a unified content strategy" in Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy" New Riders Publishing 2002.

  • Serena International Collage ROI calculator
    (Excel spreadsheet, free, based on Serena Collage CMS)

  • Tridion ROI calculator
    (Flash based) Tridion's ROI calculator shows how content-rich organisations - particularly those with multilingual operations - can achieve substantial cost savings. It's an advanced yet easy-to-use tool that enables you to compare your existing content management infrastructure with the Tridion solution. In doing so, it highlights the potential gains to be made by further optimising your content operations. Taking just moments to complete, the Tridion ROI calculator is based on a sophisticated model. Calculations are made using information that you provide by answering six straightforward questions regarding your online operations. In return, it provides you a detailed cost breakdown and calculates the potential return on your estimated investment over four years.

  • Vasont ROI calculator
    (Excel spreadsheet, free, requires registration) This ROI Calculator will help you determine if a content management system will benefit your organization financially and calculate what timeframe you might expect to see a payback from your investment. To use this calculator, you will need to:
    • Obtain the hourly rates, including benefits, of the staff members who perform each of the tasks from your accounting department.
    • Determine the number of hours you spend annually on the tasks listed in the calculator.
    • Calculate the total annual cost of translation service fees from the vendor's invoices (if applicable).
    • Obtain the cost estimate for the content management system you intend to buy, including the cost of setup and any customizations you will need.

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