“How do we narrow down our ERP vendor search? We have over 30 vendors on our RFP list and most of them responded with ‘Yes’ across the board!” Creating the RFP; wasn’t that a great use of your time? It’s not to say that the RFP has no value nor is it to say in some cases it shouldn’t be used. What it is saying is there’s more than features and functions needed to assess your company and the vendor.
Depending on the vendor/implementer or consultants, assessments can have a different look and feel. Vendor/Implementers definitely lean toward feature/function RFP’s because they know it’s virtually a ‘yes’ across the board. Most consultants target ‘unique areas of the business’ and dive deep into feature/function for ‘critical areas of the business’ hoping to ‘weed out’ vendors with less functionality or flexibility while maintaining high level functionality for less critical business applications. It is the rare team that takes a holistic approach of the business, quickly assesses the unique business processes, and then builds the selection and implementation plan around the truly important, critical and unique business drivers.
Only professionals that have done many process review assessments are capable of quickly building plans that can save the company large sums of money during the selection and implementation. Hundreds of firms are now talking about ‘process driven assessments and reviews’ for vendor selection, but virtually every single firm still uses the RFP as the tool to measure the process with business need. Again, not that there’s no place for an RFP, but when used, it needs to play a minor role in comparison to the business processes. In other words, it should be used to validate the functions within the process, not try to define the process through features and functions.
The outcome of a properly driven assessment would be something of a “blueprint” of the organizations unique business processes. A ‘Business Case’ or ‘Blueprint’ can then be utilized to educate vendors/implementers and people inside your company as well. Driving all parties to the same place in order to properly review the software products then becomes the next task.
In the next piece, we’ll discuss how to educate the masses on both sides of the table in order to quickly narrow down the search to a few vendors and do it in substantially less time than following the ‘standard RFP and demo’ process.