Selecting a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) can be an overwhelming task. Although some core functionality is required by all PACS users, every hospital or clinic will have divergent requirements. PACS systems are very sophisticated, and new functionality is being added all the time.
Gathering requirements from users (clinical, administrative and IT staff) is obviously crucial, but there are some subtleties as to how to do this. Asking users what they need is one thing, but it can be difficult for a user to articulate their requirements unless they have some knowledge of the features offered by different PACS vendors. Thus the RFP coordinator must take time to ensure that users are equipped to answer the following questions: * What functionality do I need to perform my job as I currently do? * What new functionality do I need in order to meet my agreed performance goals? * What functionality would I like to see? r This makes preparation and management of a Request for Proposal an important and time-consuming task. User expectations need to be translated into a concise description of system requirements. If those requirements have been clearly enumerated, it is easier to draft good RFP questions – those that encourage accurate evaluation and comparison of vendors.
PACS Vendors often find themselves confronted by poor RFPs - vague questions, outdated requirements, and, worst of all, far too many questions that the vendor knows will not affect the final decision. Cost of sale is an important consideration for vendors, and they will prioritize their proposal based on the quality of the RFP and the estimated time required for preparation.
Drafting the RFP should be an iterative process where each iteration improves the understanding of the decision to be made.