We’ve all been there… A BPM Software RFP Invitation… “Request for Proposal”… or as it is commonly known: “Another Sleepless Night”…
You stay up late… answering all their questions (what looks like thousands of pages….).
You get grumpy… (they probably won’t even read it…)
the impossible questions (probably be a stitched tender…)
the vague questions, the tick-in-the-box questions…
it goes on and on into the night… grumpy, grumpy, grumpy…
But when you’re finished, you’re quite proud of your work… (clear, decisive, professional. a work of art! A true masterpiece. Pat on the back…)
You then look at their time schedule… General Instruction for bidders – tick…
Business requirements – tick… Technical requirements – tick… Deadline for clarifications/questions back to the customer in order to be able to bid..
Ahah! Clarification questions back to the customer. Excellent! These guys are serious!
There is a formal procedure in vendor bidding, a certain etiquette.
It usually consists of questions the customer asks the vendor.
It doesn’t include questions the vendor can ask the customer.
Which is a pity, because it would enable the vendor to quantify the work needed.
It is in the customer’s best interests to provide as much information as possible to the vendor.
There is a difference in the amount of work needed in “simple process”, and a “simple process, but by the way we want it also to integrate into an old legacy system, run through a thousand steps, and automatically make coffee”
The difference usually results in a quick deployment where everyone is happy, or a project the drags on for ever, a vendor looking to run away, costs spiralling and everyone feeling that they have been screwed by the other side.
You request a price. You get a price based on the information you provide.
If you’ve sent a RFP to multiple vendors, without including formal “clarifications/vendor questions back to the customer” step – you are doing yourself no favours. During the bidding stage no vendor is going to risk annoying you by sending back a list of clarifying questions without permission. It is is your best interests to have this stage built-in to your tender in order to enable vendors to estimate correctly the amount of work required. It really is in your best interests.
Clarification questions back to the customer are very important.
These are my 20 questions I would always ask:
1. What is the business problem that we are trying to solve?
2. What impact does this have? Who does this impact?
3. Why do we want to resolve this now?
4. How critical is this process to the organisation?
5. What would be considered a project success?
6. How do you currently operate?
7. How long does it take to currently “run” the business process?
8. How much does the current process cost to run?
9. How many people are involved?
10. Total number of process that you are looking to automate as part of this project?
11. What currently happens with exceptions?
12. How long does it take to resolve them?
13. What are the issues with failures and alerts?
14. How is audit currently implemented?
15. How are KPI’s currently measured and monitored?
16. Are external companies and/or contractors used?
17. Does the process include integration into other systems?
18. Do you have defined processes?
19. What are the processes designed in?
20. Who is the stakeholder?