Things You Should Know When Creating an RFP for Employment Screening Services: Part 3

Jason Morris

In Parts 1 & 2, we discussed many very important steps in the RFP process.  We also highlighted why a company may chose to go to bid for their background screening services. Once again, this is a very daunting process; one that takes months to prepare for and months to complete.  This series is not a manual on how to write an RFP, the National Association for Professional Background Screeners has already done that. That can be found by Clicking Here!

Today, we will discuss the final important steps in your RFP process.

  • References. References give good insight and provide an added level of reinforcement to what the CRA have already disclosed regarding their products and services.  Bidders should be able to supply at least 3 references, with one being similar in size and scope to your own organization. You may also want them to provide some case studies of comparable clients. This will show you how the company plans on implementing its services into your organization.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).There is an increasing trend of CRA’s partnering with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) providers. The reason this is becoming so attractive is that it provides a one stop resource for your organization. A recruiter can track the flow of their candidate through different stages of the screening program including the background check.  If your company currently uses an ATS, you’ll want to find out if the CRA can integrate with it and if there is an additional charge. If your company currently does not have an ATS, does the screening provider have any partnerships? (and with whom?)  There is a cost and time saving component in being able to integrate.
  • Service Level Agreements. Having this as part of your process will save you the headache down the road of having to go back and define what exactly needs to be done.   You don’t want a negative experience at the expense of your applicant and costing you a hire should a situation arise.  Important questions to ask yourself when creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA): How Will my customer service needs be met? What is the guaranteed ‘uptime’ of the vendors online portal?  Can they guarantee an ‘average’ turnaround time?  Basically, a good SLA should spell out in writing that the promises they are making are being kept.  In return, you guarantee you are giving the Background Screening Firm what they need to do their job!
  • Education and Compliance. Education and compliance go hand in hand. CRA’s should offer you assistance in being able to make informed hiring decisions.  Find out what educational tools they offer to keep their clients current on the latest background screening trends and laws.   What steps do they take to keep you in compliance with the ever changing laws?  Do they update you on court closings? Do they publish information for you to education yourself? For example, some companies will publish a blog, a newsletter and other informational sites.
  • Financial and Legal Information. A sticking point for companies going out to bid is asking for financial information.  This is something that should be avoided since most companies will not provide this information.   As mentioned throughout this piece there are other ways to determine how stable a company is other than asking for financial records.  Simply asking for this information may put you at risk of quality CRA’s failing to respond solely based on this question.

As the buyer of services, you need to be clear on setting your expectations to potential bidders and hold them to these deadlines.   If for whatever reason you can’t hold to these dates, communication needs to go out to the bidders with a revised deadline and again the expectation should be clear.  A realistic time line should also be created to give the bidders time to respond to all questions; usually a minimum of 2 weeks.  Assessing the CRA’s responsiveness and flexibility throughout the entire RFP process will provide key insights as to how they  will  perform  for  you  should  they  earn  your  business.  You’ll also want to look for consistency of their responses throughout the entire document.  Any inconsistencies should be examined further and followed up on if necessary for clarification.  Chose a provider that helps your company maintain its financial, security, and hiring goals.  In some ways this can be a difficult balance, finding out what you are getting in the RFP process is a great start.  If the RFP is the sales pitch, your willingness to follow the process is paramount to its success.   Holding your newly selected vendor to what was promised in the RFP can be difficult.  It’s important that you hold them to the service levels they promise and hold them accountable if they are unable to maintain it.  We understand that its cliché to say “Actions speak loader than words,” but unless you are willing to test a vendor and hold them to their commitments, the process is meaningless.  Anyone can promise anything! Be diligent! Failing to follow critical steps could put your company in peril.  Trying to cut costs could quite simply harm your organization at the expense of your employees and customers!  We hope these tips are helpful to you and your company.  If you have any questions on how to effectively create your RFP we are happy to help.  You may contact us at info@employeescreen.com

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Written by John Sferry, Director of Business Development and Jason Morris, President and COO of EmployeeScreenIQ.

Founded in 1999, EmployeeScreenIQ is a Cleveland, Ohio-based employment screening company offering a variety of employment screening services to mid- and large-cap organizations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe and East Asia. For more information visit http://www.employeescreen.com

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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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