RFP: Document Management

Analysis: With this sample RFP, eWEEK Labs provides a starting-off point for building a proposal that will narrow the list of document management products down to those that include the features and functionality your organization needs.

Building an RFP for any enterprise technology category can be a demanding task, but when a category is facing massive changes that are altering the very nature of the products in it, writing an effective RFP can be like herding cats.

A good example of a category in this kind of state is document management. Just a few years ago, it wouldnt have been noticeably more difficult to create an RFP for document management systems than it would have been for any other product category. At that time, document management applications were fairly well defined in terms of their capabilities and feature sets.

However, with the rise of enterprise content management, document management vendors have been working to morph their platforms into broad CMSes (content management systems). It has thus become more difficult than ever to settle on the core functionality requirements that a business should expect from a document management platform.

With this sample RFP, eWEEK Labs provides a starting-off point for building a proposal that will narrow the list of document management products down to those that include the features and functionality your organization needs.

Core Functionality

Document Security

* Does the product include rights management tools to control access to documents?

Document Collection

* How does the product store and manage document collections? Are they standards-based and open to third-party tools and systems?

Tracking and Analysis

* Does the system provide detailed reporting and analysis on the life cycle of documents, from creation to editing to viewing?

Compliance Reporting

* Does the product include prebuilt reports for common corporate and government regulations, as well as the tools to build custom compliance reports?

Document Support

* Which document formats does the system support directly? Does it include conversion capabilities (to HTML and PDF)?


* Does the product include built-in search capabilities, or does it use a third-party search tool?

* Is search strictly text-based, or does it use metadata in the documents?

Collaboration Features

* How does the document management product facilitate group creation and editing of documents?

* Which of the following features—combinations of which can increase productivity and document quality—does the platform support?

• Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogs and wikis

• Classic discussion forums and group calendars

• Interactive live document editing tools

* Does the product tie in to common e-mail clients, such as Microsoft Outlook?

* Does the platform integrate with third-party live conferencing products?

Routing and Workflow

* Are the workflow and routing tools robust enough to meet varied needs? Please provide an example scenario.

* What workflow models does the product support?

Before embarking on an RFP, make sure that you have a handle on all the document routing requirements—both for now and the foreseeable future—at your organization. Some document management systems have just "approve" and "deny" routing capabilities, while others support complex and tiered workflows.

*Are alerts and notifications included that let authors, managers and editors know when content has been submitted, edited or checked out?

* Does the product have check-in/check-out content locking?

* If the product includes process routing and tracking, does it support standards such as BPEL (Business Process Execution Language)?

User Interface and Document Creation and Editing

* How do users work on documents in the system? Is the product completely browser-based, or are specialized desktop clients required?

* Does the product integrate with popular document creation tools, such as Adobe Systems Acrobat and Microsofts Office?

* How does the product integrate with hardware-based document systems? Is it locked into vendor-specific scanners and printers, or can it work with most standards-based hardware?

System Requirements

* What server operating systems does the document management platform run on?

* Does the product support multiple database options?

* What scripting code base is the document management platform based on?

The scripting code base is even more important for document management systems that are completely Web-based and that offer portal and Web content management functionality.

* Does the product use an internal user authentication system, or does it integrate with third-party directories and access control products?

Enterprise Storage and Document Life-Cycle Platform Integration

Does the product integrate with archiving and storage products in an effective manner, making retrieval and discovery seamless?


* What are the terms and availability of basic support?

* What premium support services are available, and how much do they cost?

* What online help and training tools are available?

Time to Deploy

* Discuss the likely deployment process and plausible timeline.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

* What does the product cost, including base costs and costs for additional features and components?

* What cost advantages will be realized by choosing this solution?


* Please provide references of customers that have completed a similar deployment, with similar numbers of users and applications in the same industry.


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