How often have you sat in a workshop or meeting focused on creating an IT RFP? How often have you
sat in the room with lots of expertise, with one person taking the lead and the rest of team checking
their emails and doing other work? How often have you had to review multiple documents only to be
trapped into the “fun” of tracking changes and editing content? Where is the ‘value added’ in preparing
the IT RFP? Where is the opportunity for transformation that was mentioned by your senior executive
team in the kick-off meeting?
Having experienced each of the above, there is a better path to follow! IT and business leadership
teams continue to be over-enamored with the definition, preparation and rollout of IT RFP’s, often
ignoring the real opportunity for transformation.
The IT team should be focusing on the following 5 items:
1. Create a one-page view of your requirements. Keep it to one page. If you are not able to clearly
state what you are seeking from a vendor, stop and go back to the drawing board. Ask
yourself why you need the 20-page powerpoint which requires that you explain its key points in
a summary slide at the end. If all you have accomplished is a restatement of what you are doing
today, rip it up and start over.
2. Ask the vendor what they can do. Before you start down the path of creating the IT RFP
and holding a bunch of meetings to explain what you need (and then finding out that the
vendor has something new to tell you that might change your requirements) why not do
this up front? Host a ‘speed dating’ exercise, and give each vendor one hour to tell you what
is possible, and then update your requirements. You should come back with several new
ideas for transformation opportunites as part of the IT RFP. Create the list of transformation
opportunities, rank them and move on.
3. Setup a small team and empower them. We all understand that lots of folks can be
involved in the IT RFP process, but only do this when they are truly needed. Depending on the scope of your RFP, identify the right leadership team and tell them they have 30 days to figure it out. Chances are, they will have an answer that is at least 80% correct.
4. Decide which battles to fight. What are you most concerned about? What are your
current pain points if this is a renegotiation? Savings, improved delivery, new capability , IT
transformation? All of the above? Before you get started on the RFP exercise, define the
battle plan and the key criteria for evaluation. These should be short and focused on what you need.
5. Decide when to stop. Very often we feel compelled keep the ball moving and realize that the
team in not doing anything new, just describing the same work with no transformation. You
need to stop the ball moving forward and ask the tough question - ‘Why are we doing this?’
The secret to an IT RFP that includes transformation is not in the paperwork or the documents. The
secret is taking the time to really figure out what you need and understanding how your team (both
you and the vendor) is going to be successful. If you can’t successfully do the items above, don’t
start. Hold off and start when you are going to be able to drive a successful approach!