part 2: why your RFP false start might not give you what you need (and what to do about it)

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In part one of this post, I discussed how we receive many RFPs and RFIs from customers who may have been better served to have engaged with their suppliers before taking the time to write an extensive RFP.

In order to move more quickly in your market and be successful, it is essential that you react quickly on changes as they occur. Nowadays, technology is moving incredibly fast, and development cycles for new applications are much shorter than a few years back. In order to benefit from these shorter development cycles and not fall victim to a market shakeout, you need to move fast, too.

Now, product development is no small matter, and validation and initiation of a joint product development may take quite a bit of time and be full of obstacles.  This is why both the supplier and customer should look for ways to execute processes in parallel and exchange information when possible.  This permanent communication between your supplier’s innovation teams and your business strategy staff is essential; this will help you best match your requirements with those of your supplier. 

I have seen examples where customers dictate certain solution building blocks or network architectures that seems to be cost effective at first sight but may turn out to be very expensive if it comes to operational governance, flexibility or have a high security or availability risk because of its underlying complexity. If we spot an issue like this, we always recommend an alternative, industry best practice even when a customer may need to adapt their own mindset, governance capabilities or processes. In some cases an alternative approach is against the rules already laid down in the RFP, which would mean back-tracking on the process. Unfortunately, due to constraints of time, contracts or money, a re-issuance of the RFP is not always possible, which means it’s a missed opportunity for the customer.

maintaining alignment between supplier and customer

Service providers and suppliers that want to stay competitive in a fast-changing market must maintain ways to keep in touch with their customer to align mutual business strategies.

As an example, they may organize workshops where you can meet with other customers in informational and interactive events. This way, customers get the chance to share experiences and successes with peers in their own market but also in other markets with similar challenges. This also gives the your supplier the opportunity to validate their solution roadmap with expectations of many different customers.

I recommend you start by asking your existing and potential suppliers if they have a program that facilitates and maintains a communication channel between your business strategy staff and their product development department. The objective should be to keep each other up to date at all times in a non-sales setting and find mutually beneficial opportunities to increase each other’s business.

Can you share examples where joint product development has worked for you business, or do you have suggestions to add to what I’ve outlined here?

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.