Human Resources

Six steps to write an RFP for a performance management system

When you’re about to select a solution to support your performance management process, you may be wondering where to start. There are many different steps you can take to identify your needs and find the ideal vendor for you, so we’ve broken it down into 6 easy parts for you to follow as you write your request for proposal (RFP).

As you go through keep in mind your existing company processes, objectives, and culture, they will serve as good guidance.

1. Project overview

This is the document you will share with vendors to give them the bigger picture behind your request. The project overview summarizes all key points of the project, and the reasons why you initiated it.

In this section, provide information about your company culture and existing processes. For example: frequency of performance reviews, employee engagement survey results or additional data points. Highlight what is unique to your organization and what you want to continue, change or stop doing as part of performance management process.

Here are some points to consider:

  • What are the company values and how are they being lived?

  • How will a performance management system support them?

  • What challenge(s) are you hoping to solve with a performance management system and thereby, a new process?

  • What is the current business impact of this challenge?

  • What are the company business objectives and how do you expect the performance management process to support them?

  • Are people receiving the coaching and learning opportunities they need to develop?

  • Do you have inexperienced managers who need leadership training?

  • How are these challenges impacting company or individual performance?

Tip: Be clear on why your current process is not working for your organization.

2. Goals

After outlining the reasons for seeking a performance management system, focus on what you hope to achieve with it. Clear goals will support the vision you have described. You can delve into detail about the short and long-term company goals, and the impact you hope a successful performance management process will deliver.

Here are some example goals:

  • Reduce overall administrative hours spent conducting performance reviews by 15% within a year

  • Reach completion rate of 90% for performance reviews company wide

  • Increase retention by 20%

  • Establish baseline for amount of feedback exchanged using the platform

  • Establish baseline for goal setting within the platform

  • Increase review cycle to run reviews on a quarterly basis after the first year

  • Roll-out the system to the entire company after successful 3 month trial within a specific department

Tip: outline measurable goals that you and the vendor can discuss together and keep each other accountable.

3. System Requirements

Now you’ve gone through the top level description of the project, it’s time to go into the details that will enable its success. Here you can be more specific about your technical expectations, a critical component to help you find the right vendor, listing any legal, security, or technical requirements.

Rather than an extensive list of features, focus on the key capabilities you will need. For example this might be:

  • User friendly software (intuitive, easy to use, supporting notifications)

  • Accessible any time, anywhere through mobile applications

  • Ability to run multiple types of reviews

  • Ability to set goals to complement the performance review process

  • Analytics to provide meaningful insights on your people processes

  • Actionable information people can use to be empowered in their roles and advance their careers

4. Identify key stakeholders

This is one of the most important things to consider as you are setting up the project, without buy-in, its success is at risk. In order to successfully implement a new performance management system you’ll need support at all levels of the organization.

Here are 4 types of change ambassadors we suggest you recruit, so when the time comes you have an adoption strategy that delivers value for everyone.


Usually people think of members of the Executive team, and their support is important. But don’t forget: team leads will have a big impact on whether or not people will adopt a new process, not to mention, users themselves!

It should be clear to employees what they will they will gain from using the new system, for example: meaningful insights into their performance, strengths and focus areas.

5. Project budget and timelines

By now your budget should be clearer to define as you know what pain points you’re trying to solve, and have established your goals. Think about how many people will be involved, over which period of time, and how this impacts your budget. Here are some key considerations:

  • Will you start at a team or department, or company level?

  • Will you have a trial phase?

  • Over which period of time do you want to do the initial onboarding?

  • Do you have a deadline for your next review cycle, by when you want the system up and running?

  • How much are you willing to spend as a cost per seat?

  • What other services do you expect to receive for the price quoted to you? For example, ongoing customer support.

  • Over which period of time does your budget stretch?

  • What return on investment do you hope to see and by when? Refer to goals

6. Additional efficiencies

You’ve covered the basics of your project, from company overview to system requirements and budget, but it doesn’t end there. Last but not least, when purchasing a performance management system it’s important to consider what else you would expect from a vendor. For example:

  • A dedicated customer support team

  • Onboarding assistance

  • System training

  • Change management support

Think about how your company will evolve over time, what that looks like, and what kind of support you might require. Consider the impact of a successful performance management system: how will you want to take this to the next level, and what support will you need from your vendor? Remember that the software is only one piece of the puzzle.


Now you know all the elements of an RFP, you’re ready to start building your own! It can be difficult to find a performance management system that’s right for your company’s size, culture and needs. A clear understanding of your organization’s culture and existing performance management processes, and a well-constructed RFP will aid in conversations with vendors during you validation.

Still not sure what to include? Contact us to understand what could work best for your organization.

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