RFP Evaluation: How to Determine Your Best Background Check Partner
The request for proposal (RFP) evaluation process for background screening provides you with a deeper understanding of the product and service options offered by different providers. It tells you more than what appears on the company’s website, and it helps you look beyond what’s on the surface, so you can distinguish between multiple service providers.
However, the RFP process alone doesn’t guarantee success. To get the most of the RFP evaluation process for background screening, you’ll also need to ask a combination of the right questions, provide thorough opportunities for discovery, and get the involvement of critical stakeholders to help you make your selection.
Follow these tips for conducting an RFP and selecting your background check partner.
Do Your Due Diligence
At the start of the RFP selection process, a necessary goal is opening the RFP to the providers most likely to be a fit for your screening and hiring goals. But before you finalize the RFP invitation list, you should weed out those providers who aren’t right for your organization. A little research beforehand can help you rule out screening providers who lack relevant experience in your industry or who seem to focus more on price than quality.
You can perform your due diligence by making sure each background screening provider meets the following criteria:
- They have a track record with organizations in your industry or a similar one. A good way to determine a provider’s areas of focus is to review its industry-specific insights and content.
- They share your commitment to managing hiring risk and delivering a positive candidate experience.
- They demonstrate accountability and will offer quality and accuracy instead of just speed and price.
Look Out for the Warning Signs of a Bad Provider
Not all background screening companies are the same, and not all use the same methods or data sources to complete background checks. Providers with a flashy website may seem to have a reputable, accredited business and a quality screening process, but there are ways to uncover more than meets the eye.
Look out for the following warning signs of a bad screening provider when beginning your RFP evaluation process:
- They’re not PBSA-accredited.
- They’ve been in the news for FCRA violations or lawsuits.
- They have a lot of bad reviews and negative comments on file with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and other rating sites.
- They offer significantly lower pricing than other respondents, suggesting they put price above quality.
- They don’t have a process for helping you automate and increase efficiency.
- They have a lengthy contract locking you in and making it difficult to exit.
- They lack the flexibility to offer customizations to meet your unique needs.
Involve the Necessary Stakeholders
The RFP evaluation process often involves many steps over the course of several weeks, and it requires commitment from all involved parties. Although one or two people can manage the RFP process, you’re likely to achieve a better result when you have input from critical stakeholders. In fact, McKinsey research found organizations involving the right stakeholders in decision-making were 6.8 times more likely to be successful.
The background check process is often utilized by the HR and talent acquisition team, but HR is not the only stakeholder who can add value to the RFP evaluation process. Individuals from legal, compliance, and risk management should also be involved in crafting the RFP and selecting a background screening provider. In addition, healthcare organizations can also benefit from involving stakeholders from the chief medical or credentialing office. Stakeholders from these functional areas can partner with HR to evaluate each screening company’s ability to help the organization mitigate hiring risks and meet industry-specific compliance requirements.
Even if your organization has a procurement or purchasing department managing the logistics of the RFP process, there is still a role for stakeholder involvement. Procurement staff likely won’t have a full grasp of the nuances of background screening, so they will benefit from the guidance and input of stakeholders who understand your organization’s screening goals more intimately.
Create a Process for Discovery
No matter how much information you expect to receive from background screening providers during the RFP evaluation process, it still makes sense to create an opportunity for discovery with potential providers. A discovery process helps you articulate what you’re looking for in a background screening provider, and it also gives each provider a chance to determine how best to approach the RFP. Considering that it takes an average of seven people to complete an RFP response, the more insights you can provide to potential screening partners, the better they can work internally to draft a complete response.
When you approach the RFP as more than an exchange of information and documents, you give potential providers a better understanding of your screening needs and expectations. Without the opportunity for discovery and the chance to see how they can offer you value, many companies may not respond to your RFP, or they may submit an incomplete response. Discovery doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. It can be as simple as a phone conversation or brief video call with the companies you’ve invited to the RFP.
Cover the Core RFP Evaluation Factors
When crafting an RFP for background screening services, you want to cover more than the standard questions about turnaround time and cost. Most importantly, you want to know how the provider will offer you quality and accuracy, so you can be assured of actionable background screening data for every hire.
To get at the heart of the key differentiators of background screening providers, be sure to ask RFP questions covering the following areas:
- Process: The methodology the provider uses to deliver high-quality background checks
- Compliance: How the provider complies with federal and state laws
- Experience: How well the provider understands your industry
- Technology: What tools the provider uses to support background check requests and hiring decision-making, as well as the capacity to integrate with your existing HR systems and applicant tracking system (ATS)
- Relationship management: The provider’s customer service model and how it delivers ongoing value throughout the relationship
Devote Time to the Final RFP Evaluation and Decision
Once you have invested time in due diligence, discovery, and asking the right questions, you’ll also need to take the time to carefully review responses and avoid rushing into making a final decision. Just as you provided RFP participants ample time to craft a response, you want to follow a thorough decision-making process and evaluate each provider for potential fit with your organization and hiring process.
Take the following actions to help you make your final selection:
- Put RFP responses in rank order, so you can devote time to considering the best of your options.
- Make sure RFP responses satisfy the objectives and concerns of key stakeholders.
- Reach out to screening providers if you need clarification on any response or need more information.
- Don’t feel forced into making a selection if the RFP responses you receive fall short of expectations. You may need to expand your search and reach out to additional providers.
Make Your RFP Evaluation Process a Success
You have many available options when selecting a background screening provider, and for the sake of your hiring process, you can’t afford to take the decision-making process lightly. To select a provider who will partner with you to improve your hiring process and help you deliver a better candidate experience, it’s essential to develop a comprehensive RFP process and carefully consider your options.
To jumpstart your RFP process and identify the top criteria for evaluating potential screening providers, check out our Competitor Comparison Infographic.