So, here you are. You’ve been with your IP software and annuity vendor for years, perhaps even decades. For whatever reason, it’s time to look at alternatives and your procurement team wants you to put together an RFI or RFP (which we highly recommend) as a way to effectively evaluate your options.
You’ll probably get a lot of help putting together the RFP for your IP Management System. Your IT team will weigh in on data security and technology architecture requirements and your users will probably have a long wish list of features. But, when it comes to creating the annuity payment portion of the RFP, you’ll probably get a lot less support and definitely fewer best practices.
To help you overcome this challenge, we’ve assembled our 5 key annuity RFP focus areas and have included some sample questions to help support you in your process. Even if you plan on selecting an IPMS vendor and defaulting to them for payments without an RFP, we highly recommend getting written responses to these questions and using the results to inform your final contract. This can save you tens of thousands and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
5 Key Annuity RFP Focus Areas
#1 – Safety
It goes without saying that your IP is extremely valuable. It doesn’t matter if the payment process is easy or inexpensive if you are losing IP rights.
RFP questions to gauge a potential vendor’s ability to safeguard your portfolio include the following:
- What’s your annuity migration methodology, cutover process and timeline?
- What processes are in place to ensure payments aren’t missed or duplicated during the transition?
- What safeguards are in place during normal processing to ensure payments aren’t missed?
- Can you provide client references with a similar portfolio composition as ours? (size, jurisdictional coverage, complexity of IP)
- What type of insurance policies, with what types of caps, do you carry to cover the potential loss of a client’s IP rights? Have you made any payouts from these policies in the past?
- What are your standard limitation of liability terms?
#2 – Transparency
Once you are confident that your portfolio is safe, it’s important to understand where your money is going and how it’s being distributed throughout the payment process. This knowledge is essential to long-term cost management.
The following RFP questions help maximize your visibility into the use of your funds for annuity payments:
- Can we receive invoices broken out by official fee, agent fee and service fee?
- Can we get the exchange rates in use at time of invoice?
- Can we get an exchange rate cap in the contract?
- Can we get the names of the foreign agents used to make our payments and their fees?
- What are your fees for transactions outside of the normal process?
#3 – Flexibility
Every organization has unique processes and requirements. It’s important that your annuity vendor is able to align with your processes rather than you being forced to align with theirs.
You will be able to evaluate a vendor’s flexibility with the following questions:
- Are we able to customize our invoice formats?
- What is the process if we change our mind on a payment?
- What is the cost and timeline to abandon a payment once instructed?
- What instruction periods do you support? (Quarterly, Monthly, etc)
- Can you pay through our agents if we have preferred rates?
- Can we pay with multiple currencies to reduce foreign exchange costs?
#4 – Efficiency
Annuity payment processes can be labor intensive and time consuming. Your annuity vendor should help lift much of this load from your shoulders.
You’ll be able to judge the vendor’s ability to improve your efficiency with the following questions:
- How are annuity decisions communicated to the annuity payment team?
- Can we produce our own annuity estimates and budgets?
- Are payment issues communicated and resolved via email or through the IP Management system?
- Can official certificates and proof of payment be accessed within the IP Management system?
- Can invoices be automatically loaded into our e-Billing system?
- Which public data tools do you use, and how do you use them to improve data quality?
#5 – Support
With all of the different country laws and fees, annuity payments can be very complex. It is important to find a vendor that helps remove the complexity, enabling you to spend time on more important priorities.
An annuity vendor’s support capability can be evaluated with the following questions:
- Will we receive a dedicated support rep?
- What are your support hours? What are your response SLA’s?
- What does your onboarding and training program entail?
- What is the workflow in situations when there is an issue with a payment?
- What are your escalation procedures?
- How do you proactively assist us with our goals of continuous improvement?
We hope that you find the above information helpful and that you can put it to use in your next RFP. Even if you aren’t switching systems and evaluating new vendors, we recommend doing an RFP at each renewal cycle. This will enable you to stay on top of the latest trends in the industry and potentially achieve additional savings.
If you have questions, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. If this seems like a lot of work, our Contract Guard service includes RFP management and much more!