part 1: why your RFP false start might not give you what you need

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Here at Orange in the Netherlands, we often receive multi-million Euro RFIs, RFPs from organizations asking for business-critical services such as large private networks, security solutions and all kinds of communication services. Regularly those requests contain a list of services requiring technology based on already detailed infrastructural and architectural choices.

Once we start mapping these prescribed solution requirements with the products in our portfolio as part of the RFP answer, we sometimes regret the fact that we weren’t engaged earlier with the customer to share our product and business strategy before they created their RFP.

Yes, of course we, but also our competitors, may be able to deliver solutions that do not match our product portfolio or that deviate from what is considered industry common practices. But why take that risk? Suppliers and service providers have the ability to help you align your business strategy and help build an business architecture with a roadmap for new innovative services that can be provided to you.

business architecture frameworks

We assume that those RFP’s have been written with the business strategy in mind. However, rarely do we see a structured architectural development framework like TOGAF 9.x® used in order to capture all aspects of an infrastructural change before engaging a supplier. Business architecture is not just about a technical infrastructural design or the choice for a specific brand of equipment; business architecture is about designing your business (IT) environment keeping in mind your strategy, your current and future organization, markets, processes, capabilities, governance and information needs.

It is understandable that customers cannot consult each and every supplier in depth; however, for long-term contracts with large organizational scope, some sort of innovative partnership with your trusted suppliers is mandatory.  Normally the suppliers’ product management and marketing departments manage this roadmap, and they are always on the lookout for input from their market to initiate new product development.

If you choose to take this route, however, know that you will not be locked into a vendor and make sure that the solutions you develop together are re-usable. This works both ways; the supplier can sell this product elsewhere as well – maybe even to one of your  competitors. But you will have the first-mover’s advantage. Based on economies of scale, the supplier can reduce their operating costs, build experience around a limited amount of product variations and improve quality, which at the end will also benefit you as a customer in terms of quality and costs, too.

In part two of this post, I’ll explore in more detail how you might be able to influence your supplier's development roadmap.

Marcel

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Marcel van Wort

Marcel is a Managing Consultant, CISSP-ISSAP and ISO27K Lead Auditor certified. Specialised in IT Security and Unified Communications at Orange Business Services in Amsterdam since 1998. Marcel has more than 28 years experience in the Electronics, Offshore and the IT industry where he fulfilled roles in Electronic Engineering, Project Management, Operational Management, Quality Management, Managed Security development, Compliancy and Consultancy Risk Assessments.