Eweek Labs Sample Request for Proposal Knowledge Management Portals
This document is designed to serve as a set of guidelines when developing a request for proposal or a request for information from vendors of knowledge management portals or enterprise information portals with knowledge management functionality. Rather then providing concrete requirements, as a completed RFP should, this document provides the questions and issues a company should have in mind when setting out to evaluate knowledge management portals.
Most of the focus of this sample RFP is in the software requirements. However, at the end of the document we have also provided pointers to typical general information that should also be included in an RFP.
Knowledge Management Portals: Ideally, a knowledge management portal should combine the best features of both a knowledge management system and an enterprise information portal. The overall functionality of such a system should help a business provide centralized access to all the content and data within their company, whether it's document repositories, databases, intranet sites, enterprise applications such as ERP or CRM, or messaging systems. The portal should also be able to integrate external content such as information services, external web sites, or partner web services.
Company Requirements: While a portal that has all the features may seem the best, it may not be the best for your company. Some business will value collaboration features over integration with back-end data repositories. Others may want a simple way for employees to add information, while others will want to restrict content contribution. When considering the following requirements, rate the importance of each for your organization.
Software Requirements: 1) Portal must integrate with back-end data sources and enterprise applications (Is this done through pre-built connectors? How are custom wrappers or connectors built? A proprietary API or an open or standard development language?) 2) Our business must be able to code and customize the portal to meet unique needs (Is portal architecture completely based on open standards such as XML and HTML? What is the internal programming based on? Java? .Net?) 3) Application server support (Is the portal based on standard application server technology? Can it work with any application server or only specific ones? Is app server included with portal price?) 4) Portal must include knowledge management features that facilitate submission and management of documents and other generated content (Does the portal implement knowledge management through extensions to other programs, or are these features built into the portal platform?) 5) Portal must allow employees to work together and collaborate on content creation and projects (Are collaboration features integrated with the rest of the portal? Does it provide chat and discussion areas? Does it integrate in some way with standard e-mail systems?) 6) Portal should provide built-in integration with standard productivity applications (Is this done through scripting? ActiveX? Remote clients such as Citrix?) 7) Portal must be able to automatically scan and index unstructured data such as Web sites and document directories (How does it scan or spider these resources? Does it rely on pre-categorization or can the taxonomy be built on the fly?) 8) An accurate content taxonomy is required for the portal (What level of assistance does the portal vendor provide for developing a category taxonomy? None? Sample data? Assistance for topic experts within the company? Close counseling and support in developing a taxonomy?) 9) Portal must have effective and accurate search capabilities (Can the portal work with any search engine? Is the search engine well integrated?) 10) Portal must be able to index and display a variety of files and documents (Does the portal simply provide downloads? Does it display files in native formats? Does it use a conversion utility?) 11) Portal must be able to manage multiple versions of files and documents (Can any version of a file be viewed? Is versioning built-in or provided through third-party document management product?) 12) Internal developers should be able to easily create small portal applications or “portlets” (Are portal applications based on standard scripting languages? Does the vendor provide a mechanism to find and share portal applications among the user community?) 13) Developers should be able to convert portal applications into Web services (Can portlets be converted to Web services through an interface, or is development required? Is development based on web services standards?) 14) Web services must be easily placed into the portal (Can the portal easily take any standards-based Web services and integrate it into the portal? Is specific coding required by the service provider?) 15) Portal must match the look and feel of company websites/intranet (Ease of customizing portal design and templates? Is this done through proprietary tools or through standard web authoring tools?)
16) Users should be able to personalize the portal interface to their unique information needs (What are the extent of the personalization options? Does the user interface require a specific browser? Does it require plugins or ActiveX?) 17) Users must be able to submit content directly to the portal (How can users add content? Is the interface browser based? Does it use client software? Is it done through Office and WebDav?) 18) User content submissions must be subject to an approval process (Does the portal have extensive workflow features or is it simple approve/deny?) 19) Must be able to manage what users can view on the portal and how they can use the resources on it (Does the portal provide its own access mechanism, or can it work with third-party access control tools such as Netegrity SiteMinder?) 20) Administrators must be able to define rights and roles for users of the portal (Does the portal integrate with external user directories? Are rights and roles group-based? Can rights be defined by file or just by directory?) 21) Must be able to define levels of administrators for portal (Does it have subadministrator features that make it possible to delegate administration tasks or for specific sections of the portal?) 22) Portal must provide means to track usage of and activity on the portal (Is this done through standard log files, or does the portal provide built-in reporting that handles unique usage and activity information?) 23) Portal must run on x system (What server platforms can the portal software run on?) 24) Portal must be able to support x number of users (Define both standard users and manager level users.) 25) Provide information on the pricing and billing structure of the portal (This can be very tricky, as pricing options for portals vary widely and can be based on anything from number of clients to number of CPUs.) 26) Portal must be fully operational in x number of days (You should be realistic here, but most portal vendors can provide information on typical deployment times. If planning a pilot implementation keep this in mind.) 27) Portal must be able to grow with business needs and integrate with new resources (Does dependence on proprietary technology limit portals scalability? Can it run on any large-scale server system? Does use of standards make it easy for it to integrate with other portal systems, possibly introduced through mergers?) 28) Training and support (Are there training options for administrators, developers and users? What documentation is provided? What level of support, at what cost?)
Other RFP Elements to Consider: Contact information for customers using software in RFP Detailed information about the vendor Detailed price quotes for all elements of meeting the RFP Information on your business and how the software will be used Reminder that false or misleading statements could lead to rejection of vendor Request information on any pertinent certifications or standards supported Require responses to all RFP requirements