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How to run a successful RFx process

by | January 4, 2017

During an RFx process it is important to be open to conversation about what the products you are considering can do and try not to have a very fixed technology landscape in play before you get into the RFI process.

This post walks you through our recommendations for running the process:

Seeing is believing – don’t buy vapourware

Make sure you see what you are asking for. This seems very simple, but it can cause major problems. Ensure you get a good demonstration of the procurement solution you are looking for and see it working in anger, including all the elements that go with it too.

Complexity and resource availability – change management is key

It is important to appreciate how complex the solution is to implement and what capacity and capability you have in house. The success of a solution, no matter how complex, comes down to how it is implemented and the level of change management that is undertaken.

Do up front research

There is enough material now available that you do not need a beauty parade of ten different products. You can very easily get hold of a Gartner magic quadrant or something similar and get a good understanding of where products sit and what their strengths and weaknesses are. There are probably only two of three that you should really be talking to, anymore and you are wasting your time.

Start with business requirements – Allow selling!

You should approach the RFx process from a business requirements perspective and think about what you are trying to achieve, and then ask vendors to explain or demonstrate how their solution aligns. It is important to allow vendors to sell to you.

Ask the right questions

If you ask specific closed questions, you will get specific responses, which will make it harder to make a choice. It will be very difficult to see the wood for the trees. If you have all the functional requirements ticked, you will end up with a beauty parade, where it will be hard to confidently select the right solution. Allow the vendors to add value in the RFX process, and then to have time to sell!

Allocate good time to review a shortlist of vendors

It is all very well putting a day aside to see a number of potential vendors. However if you don’t allow enough time, you won’t truly get to understand the solution, and more importantly, you won’t get to appreciate the type of organisation you would potentially be partnering with.

Create real life scenarios

Having someone take the time to understand your business and sit down with you for three hours or more will deliver significantly more benefit. By all means ask vendors to show how they would manage particular scenarios relevant to your business.

Keep a tight process

To ensure a quality process, once you have completed preliminary due diligence and investigations, it’s recommended not to run a detailed selection process following the RFI for more than 3 different organisations/ vendors. An RFI should be used to whittle down a long list into a genuine contender list, where more time can be allocated to each vendor.

User adoption – usability is key

Getting the system implemented is only part of the challenge. Unless it is very easy for people to use they won’t adopt it. One of the key things you should be looking for is use ability and how intuitive the solution is. An ideal is that people can get on to it with almost no training, where the only training needed is to understand why they are using it and some of the specific policies that an organisation has got. Using the technology should be second nature.

To find out the value of pre market preparation, focusing on understanding the business requirements and desired outcomes, prior to starting the RFx process click here.