Business journaling for me customarily serves to help my existing clients or prospective ones through some weighty issue or challenge. Today’s post will merely be cathartic in nature and may serve as the only way that I can slog through the rest of the morning, so please bear with me.
Getting called into an RFP (Request For Proposal) with very little information or requirements gathered is a commonplace enough event for technologists. An RFP is the chance for the service provider to deliver a summary of what sort of services they intend to deliver to the customer. Rarely will an RFP include pricing, as in this initial stage the service provider has not collected the Customer Requirements.
Apparently for the client in question it was not RFP time, it was RFQ (Request For Quote) time. They wanted to know soup to nuts what services would be provided for them and what it would cost plus or minus 10%. In order to perform such a task a service provider must have gathered together the Customer Requirements. Some people call them “Customer Spec” short for specification. Essentially the service provider has to have a good understanding of what the client wants in order to ensure that all of their basic requirements are met, and that most of their “would like to have’s” are at least addressed by the proposed solution.
This particular “emergency” RFQ was initiated by the customer as they wanted to know by 1:15PM how much “it all” would cost. The customer prefaced the conversation that he recently fired the last service provider for not delivering what he needed. The customer delivered a few printouts of screens in the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) application that was built by the prior service provider. The customer stated that it was “all wrong” and that he wanted things done differently. When asked for test data he said that he did not have any data or transactional maps that would guide a service provider in building the application, just a handful of utterly useless screenshots.
Dear Mr. Customer;
I so wanted to take part in your urgency today. You see I thrive on action, and it sounds to me like you needed some.
I understand that you are behind schedule and without any tool in place to do work. Your line of business is not a commonplace one, so it demands a level of customization that many would not understand. Your business size is not large enough for an enterprise solution, but it is big enough to demand some level of automation. You have been recently burnt by a prior service provider who did not understand what you needed, and only delivered a fraction of your un-documented requirements.
Please, please, please. Mr. Customer, gather thee requirements three.
There.. That wasn’t so bad was it? Providing a few key requirements can help to streamline the RFP/RFQ process as well as help to shield your business from financial or operational harm. As a service provider, we are here to make your business work. We are only happy doing what we do when YOUR business is more effective. Ability… CHECK, Urgency… CHECK, Requirements… Well, now you get the picture.