How to create and evaluate effective government web payments RFPs
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, web payments have gone from being a convenient payment option to an absolute necessity. Local and state governments have had to prioritize effective web payments citywide to keep their constituents and staff safe. Having web payments available for all city services helps ensure continuity for revenue collection and for important government services like licenses, permits, municipal utilities, and more.
Use this guide to help build your web payments request for proposal (RFP) and evaluate submissions. Need to expedite the process? Download our ready-to-use Web Payments RFP Template here, or get in touch for more information.
What to consider when writing RFP questions
Choosing the best web payment solution can be quite involved, and it’s important to hit all major considerations when writing an effective RFP. Cities unfamiliar with implementing new and modern web payment solutions often struggle to identify important topics to address in their questions, such as checkout functionality, back-end usability for staff, and integration options, among many others.
Below are a few things to consider when writing an RFP. Your goal should be to focus on your desired outcomes, pick out core competencies, and be open to future expansion and innovation.
- Reflect on the needs of your government and its departments, as well as your current web capabilities. Considering the entirety of your city when choosing a vendor solution is key for improving overall customer interactions with the city. Some city departments may have sophisticated business processes in place around services like permitting, some may have unique needs like allowing for recurring auto-payments on utility bills, and others may be introducing web payments for the very first time. It’s important to consider the diversity of your departments and their needs, to select a vendor that will create a consistently excellent experience for customers across the entire city.
- Think about the full digital experience of your city and how well the web payment solution fits (or doesn’t fit!) into the look and feel of your existing web platform. Ensuring that the vendor’s solution integrates well into your native brand is crucial for boosting reliability and trust with your constituents.
- Consider your end goals and look to the future. Instead of focusing on one immediate solution, think bigger. Consider how the web payment solution can be expanded to other departments or additional payment channels in the future, integrated with other systems, and adapted to emerging technologies.
Sample RFP questions and what to look for in responses
Ask: Describe how a person can make their payment using your web payment solution, and include screens of the software user interface. Describe the full customer experience.
Look for: A user experience that is intuitive and consistent whether the user is on a mobile device or a laptop, and whether they’re paying by credit or debit card or by bank account.
Ask: Is there an option to make a guest payment without enrolling in an online portal? Does your solution require customers to create an account to make a payment online? Can customers create a unique profile account with login credentials and add all of their payment obligations to their account?
Look for: A solution that provides multiple checkout options to meet the needs of your customers and for your city departments. The payment solution should allow customers to make a one-time payment as a guest, to pay using a stored payment method, or to log into an account to find all pending obligations and schedule future or recurring payments.
Ask: Can your system support real-time integrations? Please provide past experience and a recommendation / approach on how you would integrate. Include a detailed sequence diagram, your API documentation, and any other relevant information that will enable us to understand your solution and integration method.
Look for: A solution that will easily integrate with the billing systems and adopt the business rules of every city department. City payments are often powered by disparate sets of systems across different departments, which impact the user experience on the front and back end. An effective payment solution will pull real-time customer information and keep source systems updated, enable system upgrades without customer downtime, and dynamically enforce business rules on each account — for example, removing the check payment option if a customer has previously returned checks.
Ask: How does your solution comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Please describe your methodology for implementing accessibility for all customers in your products and design. What other accessibility standards do you uphold?
Look for: A solution that makes payments easy for everyone, including people with low or no English literacy, vision impairments, or physical disabilities. A sound platform will be able to incorporate screen readers into their technologies and offer multiple language translations.
Download the Web Payments RFP Template
Want more sample questions to include in your web payment RFP? How about an entire RFP template? Fill out the form below to download the free, ready-to-use Web Payments RFP Template, created especially for the public sector.