When preparing to bring business licensing processes online, some local governments issue a formal request for proposal (RFP) to find software with the right features and functionality to meet their needs. The RFP process can be an effective way for agencies to identify a system that will serve their unique business community.
If your agency is beginning the process of drafting an RFP for business licensing software, here are 35 questions you can ask about system capabilities to determine whether the solution has the right technical specifications for your staff and business owners.
General questions to ask about the system:
- Can business owners submit initial applications and business license renewal forms via an online portal?
- Does the system support the application, discontinuation, transfer, and modification of licenses through a cloud-based licensing system?
- Can the system require business owners to upload supporting documentation as part of the application process?
- Are all uploaded documents stored securely within the system to be referenced at any time within the transaction details and account profile?
- Are there configurable license settings to establish and automate the renewal process?
- Once an application or renewal is submitted, is all data available within a single portal for staff to review and process?
- Does the system automatically generate a PDF of the license once staff approves the application?
- Do business owners have access to an online business center where they can go to print a copy of their business license?
- Can historical data about businesses be imported into the new system?
Questions to ask about payments:
- Can the system accept online payments (e-check, credit, debit, etc.) and integrate with the agency’s payment gateway?
- Is there an option for an ACH credit payment method if the agency has certain businesses that would like to schedule an ACH with their bank and send the funds directly to the agency’s bank account?
- Can staff manually enter payments, as needed, in a batch-type mode?
- Does the system offer tax collection functionality to process multiple taxes in addition to any business license taxes and fees?
- Can the system be configured to work with a lockbox if the agency has a lockbox with their bank?
- Does the system have auto calculations and controls to ensure duplicate returns/fees are not entered, along with the ability to create an account balance resulting from overpayments or underpayments?
- Is the system able to process manual tax returns and amended returns?
Questions to ask about reporting capabilities:
- Does the system offer out-of-the-box reports with the ability to run, print, and export data reports, including revenue-based reports, license inventory reports, etc.?
- Can the reports be exported to CSV/Excel format?
- Is there an ad-hoc report tool that allows staff to create custom reports on-demand to be saved for future use without having to reconfigure them?
- Are there multiple filters to allow staff to isolate a certain number of days late (ex: 30, 60, etc.) as well as target a specific task (ex: tax form, license renewal) to report on specific data filters?
- Does the system allow staff to create a report of unregistered businesses?
Questions to ask about system security:
- Does the system have data encryption to protect sensitive business and taxpayer information?
- Is the system role-based, allowing staff admins to assign permissions to users according to each user’s access needs?
- Has the solution been SOC 2 Type 2 certified?
Questions to ask about workflows:
- Can staff apply workflows for different license types and configure review and approval processes to align with the agency’s business rules?
- Does the system allow custom approval processes, with multi-department approvals, allowing multiple departments to be involved in reviewing an application based on the agency’s business rules?
- Can departments concurrently review the submission to reduce turnaround times?
- Are there internal audit logs that provide account activity information for those with applicable permissions, such as the name of the user who made the changes, what changes were made, and a time and date stamp?
Questions to ask about training and support:
- Will there be live training sessions in addition to self-paced learning for all personnel utilizing the system to ensure success with it?
- Is there unlimited and ongoing maintenance and support of the software for staff, including technical assistance?
- Is there unlimited and ongoing maintenance and support of the software for business owners, including technical assistance?
Questions to ask about notifications:
- Can staff send reminders about registration, renewal, and delinquency to businesses, including any relevant account-specific information, such as past due amounts?
- Does the system allow staff to create custom notifications with detailed instructions on how to apply for and renew licenses directly through the public portal and include external hyperlinks to downloadable forms?
- Is there an option to send notifications via email in addition to having the ability to generate a PDF for staff to print and mail?
- Is the system capable of sending automated email reminders to businesses about upcoming and past-due tasks regarding license renewal applications and tax forms without any work required from the agency?
Drafting an RFP for business licensing software can feel like a daunting task, but these questions will help your agency identify and incorporate essential software components that benefit staff and your business users.