08 June 2011 14:47pm
I'm currently in the process of choosing a developer for a large scale design and build project which includes complicated integration with our CRM system via webservices API.
The RFP went out, the proposals came back and I've got my shortlist, but what are the next steps?
I know the shortlisted developers should now come in to present to the major stakeholders, but what should I expect of them/ask them to present? Wireframes/mock up designs or just an explanation of the proposal (which in some cases is very short)?
I'd like to specifically ask for certain elements to be included in the presentation when I invite them in so any tips would be very welcome!
Also, what are the main questions I should ask at this stage? How much can I negotiate on pricing?
Managing Director at Digital Gearbox
09 June 2011 17:38pm
With a big project at this stage it's usually going to be too early to start seriously negotiating on price, more a chance for you and them to ironout any queries / areas of uncertainty. (one of those areas of course may be price!).
You say it's a big project, so I'd expect them to come back with some design ideas. OR present some examples of designs they're pleased with and explain how they work with their systems.
I'd expect to get their standard pitch, plus some tailoring to your project - they'll probably have questions they want answered, and (hopefully) they'll invite questions from you too.
If there's specific things you want to see then DEFINATELY make sure they're aware of it first. But, (depending on what you're asking for) some of them might not be able to provide that at this point. Taking design as an example on some projects several days work will go into designs - so it's not really fair to expect them to bring those along for free.
As with any website build project - the more precise and detailed you can be the better.
I hope that helps - if you want to talk through in more detail please drop me an email or a call. In the past 5 years I've been involved with over 20 ecommerce site builds, including running the tendering and selection processes.
chloe @ indiumwm.com
Managing Director at Cranmore Digital Consulting Ltd
09 June 2011 17:57pm
I would ask them to present their response to the RFP and I would expect to see: what they think the key requirements and key issues/barriers/risks are; how they will approach the project, with outline timings; some indication of who will work on project and how costs are built up. I would not expect to see designs or wireframes but, like Chloe I would expect to see examples of other work they have done on similar projects or for similar clients and to hear how they think that will help them with my project. They should have some questions and you should try and answer them all fully.
The next step would be to take up references and you will need to prepare a list of questions to ask the referees, so make a note of any weaknesses you suspect during the presentations and make sure you pick up onthose with references. And use your network to see if you can get some unofficial references too.
CEO at Econsultancy
10 June 2011 19:07pm
Have you seen our 'How to Run a Successful E-commerce ITT' guide as at http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/how-to-run-a-successful-e-commerce-itt - that might help?
Owner at Digital Juggler
11 June 2011 04:42am
There's some good advice from Chloe and Sarah. There is no right way to handle Supplier presentations but there are some guidelines to help you structure this stage to get the most from the time invested.
Re design/mock-ups I'm not convinced it's essential at this stage or at least shouldn't dominate, as Sarah suggests, unless design skills are one of your key selection criteria and you specified upfront that you expected to see visuals. Design presentations can be hard for Suppliers if they have had no exposure to your brand guardians and internal design team - I've seen excellent Suppliers with a close fit for technical solution and overall service provision be shown the door because brand teams don't like their design proposals. It can often obscure the objective of the first presentation round which should be to ascertain overall fit with requirements and the cultural fit of the Supplier to your business.
If you do want to see some prelim design concepts, ask the Suppliers to mock-up a few important pages for you (homepage, basket etc) and then get them to present with an explanation of how the functionality knits with design to ensure a smooth user journey and compatibility with standards like accessibility.
Here are a few pointers:
1) Send a concise brief to each Supplier outlining your expectations for the presentation - be clear about what you want them to focus on whilst giving them some flexibility to impose their unique approach (after all you don't want 3 identical presentations, that will make decision making very hard)
2) Encourage feedback from Suppliers about the content of presentation and length of time - as this is the start of (hopefully) a long-term partnership, you want them to feel involved from the start
3) Explain who you want at the presentation - if you specifically want to discuss SI in more detail, insist on the Technical Lead being present
4) Ask the Suppliers to present who they think is your key audience and how the solution will satisfy their online needs - picking out key functionality that achieves this
5) Pricing - unless you have submitted a detailed technical specification of requirements from which a fixed price (with contingency) quotation can be derived, it's almost impossible to negotiate pricing at this stage. It is better to ask them to provide ballpark indications for the key areas of the project (scoping, design, build, testing, PM, AM etc) based on the information & knowledge they currently have + referring it back to their previous projects. At this stage you still have too many unknowns, especially around SI, to expect accurate pricing and negotiation - leave that for later
6) Be bold and ask them to present why they are interested in your project and what experience they have relevant to your needs - ticking boxes is fine and dandy but you also want a partner with genuine passion and enthusiasm for your company to avoid a perfunctory relationship
Take a peek at the section on Reviewing & Evaluating ITT Responses in the best practice guide I wrote for Econsultancy (link from Ashley above) - this has a few more recommendations.
Feel free to give me a shout via Twitter/LinkedIn if you've got more specific questions. I've been involved in these projects for small business up to large blue chips, from 3 different perspectives; Client side, Agency side and independent Consultant.
thanks and good luck
13 June 2011 13:08pm
Thanks all - your help has been fantastic, just good to know I wasn't either giving the agencies an easy ride or expecting too much! Have just downloaded the ITT doc as well so have some reading to do!
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