If you are thinking about completing an RFP process, timing is definitely a consideration to take into account. Organizations should consider: RFP Process, Contract Negotiation, and Implementation timing when determining how far in advance should they consider releasing an RFP. Depending on the complexity of the pharmacy benefits program, which can include different lines of business, and the requirements/expectations of the RFP process itself, the timing could vary widely from six months to two years ahead of the actual go-live date. To help shed some light on time frames, we have provided information below that can be considered to help you in the decision-making process.

1. The very first step in determining the timing of an RFP process is to check your current PBM agreement. You should determine the conditions of the termination, which can include notification timing, penalties for early termination, fees for moving the business to a new vendor, etc. This first step assists with understanding your options and helps with determining the timing of a possible RFP.

2. Ask yourself how much time do you want to implement? Implementation time frames for a standard pharmacy program range from 90 days to 120 days generally. If you are a health plan, then the implementation time frames generally increase to a range of six months to nine months. This variance is highly dependent on the complexity of the current pharmacy program and the number of plan designs, etc. If you are an entity that provides Medicare and/or Medicaid services, then the implementation time frame increases to upwards of a year or longer. Taking the implementation timelines into consideration requires you to backup your RFP timeline from at least that point to help ensure you will have adequate time to experience a successful implementation.

3. If you require a contract to be negotiated and signed before the implementation project begins, then this component and the timing related to contract negotiation needs to be considered. Contracts can either be part of the RFP process or occur after the RFP process. This step largely depends on your requirements and the involvement of additional consulting partners throughout the RFP processes. Timing on contract negotiations can vary widely and discussing this with your consultant is considered a best practice, as they will understand your specific requirements and be able to guide you through the required timing.

4. Then there is the RFP process itself and the length of time it will require to complete the process. Different consultants have different processes, and therefore different timing requirements. Our advice is to talk with your consultant and work together to determine the right timing for the project as early as you are thinking about it or strategizing for the initiative so that you can be supported to plan accordingly. RFP projects can range from 120 days to almost a year depending on the goals, scope, and expectations of the project. Planning upfront will provide a less stressful process when it comes to execution, meeting all timelines, and ultimately a more successful experience.

If you need RFP support or would like to learn more about the RFP process, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.