For school districts, budgets can seem like a thorn in the side of progress. Educators want to effectively prepare students for their future, but budgets often limit the ability of schools to meet their goals for students.
I have good news for you: there is a way to simplify the way you purchase goods and services while ensuring they fit within your budget. From office supplies to event seating, furniture to school buses, uniforms to telephone systems, and many things in between, NJPA is your solution.
I’ll show you exactly how cooperative contracts from NJPA can eliminate your RFP frustrations and get your school the products and services it needs. I’ll use telephone systems as my example throughout - since that's my area of expertise – but the principles apply to all products and services available through NJPA.
Frustration #1: Cost
The Request for Proposal, or RFP, process frustrates many schools because the district or university can end up spending more money on the process instead of on the telephone system they need. School funding is not abundant and completing the RFP process requires considerable staff resources.
In the case of a phone system, your team needs to evaluate the abilities and shortfalls of its current phone system (or hire someone else to do so), and then begin to define requirements of a new system. The time commitment required continues through the response review and often includes defending your selection.
With cooperative contracts, all of the RFP process legwork is done for you. Your school can sift through a list of pre-approved proposals for various systems and select the one that best suits your needs.
Frustration #2: Writing the RFP
You cannot simply put out a proposal saying you would like to purchase a new telephone system. Before submitting a response to your RFP, vendors need to know what features and requirements you're looking for in your new phones. A poorly written RFP can be a waste of time for all involved and usually results in ineffective or altogether useless responses.
National Joint Powers Alliance exists to simplify the procurement process for schools, government agencies and nonprofits. In order to do so, they spend a large amount of time understanding education's needs and frustrations. So their solution is to do the work for you; NJPA has already:
- Solicited vendors for telephone system proposals that meet your needs
- Reviewed their responses
- Awarded the vendor (Mitel) the cooperative contract
All schools have to do is take advantage of this opportunity.
Frustration #3: Adequate Responses
In many RFPs, you might successfully navigate the preparation stage and write an accurate RFP, only to receive proposals that are inadequate, over budget or both. Vendors in the RFP process attempt to balance winning your business with making a profit, often losing sight of how well their solution suits your school.
With cooperative contracts, vendors have been chosen that know how to meet the requirements of schools, government agencies and nonprofits. The NJPA board has sifted through each proposal, approved its costs and provisions, and added it to the list of available vendors. By the time you look at available proposals on a list of cooperative contracts, the vendor has been through an extensive approval process and it's a simple matter of configuring the best system for your institution.
Frustration #4: Choosing the Lowest competitive solicitations
Having to select the most inexpensive solution is another major point of contention for schools in the RFP process. In most cases, a solution doesn’t meet all of your phone system needs – but it meets the requirements, so you're stuck selecting it. Many RFP proposals come through either within budget, but missing key requirements, or over budget while meeting requirements. Due to the way school funding works, going over budget is not a viable option. As a result, the school might end up with a subpar system or services because it's "better than nothing."
With cooperative contracts, proposal prices are lower because vendors factor in the added value of being the single option for all NJPA members. This means lower prices for you, but you still get a system that meets your needs.
Frustration #5: Extended Timeline
The RFP process, assuming it goes off without a hitch the first time through, can often last 6-12 months, if not longer. In the event that no acceptable competitive solicitations come in, you'll be forced to restart the entire RFP process and further delay the adoption of new technology.
Cooperative contracts can be completed in a matter of weeks, with implementation and installation coming soon afterward. There's no time spent sending out an RFP and waiting for proposals. That legwork has already been completed; you just need to select the best system for your school.
Cooperative Contracts are a Better Solution
Cooperative contracts are, simply put, an effective solution to your RFP frustrations. Get your new telephone system sooner, get the right system the first time and enjoy significant cost savings over the long term.