- A pre-study (or similar) is conducted in order to define the process that the solution shall support
- An RFI is produced and sent out to a shortlist of vendors
- An RFP is produced and sent out to a reduced shortlist based on the RFI answers
- Evaluation of the remaining 2 or 3 vendors through presentations and proof of concepts
- A contract is negotiated and one vendor/solution is selected
What has struck me several times is that the first step usually takes quite a while and the end result of the pre-study is made an untouchable fact which I think is very unfortunate, especially when buying supporting systems that do not drive the core business. Recruitment and project management tools are to me perfect examples of supporting applications that very rarely qualify as core business systems.
So could this be done in a different way? In many cases I certainly like to think so. When implementing supporting tools where your process probably is very similar to every other company I would suggest another approach because in these cases the vendors probably have more knowledge about what would work best for you.
One way to go about this could be to perform a brief analysis of how you work today and what you expect from a future solution. Produce a document (RFS - Request For Solution) based on the AsIs/ToBe analysis where you ask a shortlist of vendors to suggest what they think is the best solution and how they would like to implement this. Limit the number of vendors based on the answers received and continue with presentations and proof of concept evaluations as usual.
With this approach the time to platform would be radically reduced if the first analysis could be effectively executed but also due to the fact that you do not spend months producing a detailed RFP with requirements that most of the time only is used to reduce the number of vendors. I also believe that the quality using this method will be as good or better as with the traditional approach.