Over the years I have been involved with a number of major procurements. This ranges from selecting a new reservation platform for an escorted tour operator to a major end-to-end acquisition for the U.S. Federal government travel. While at Sun Microsystems in the early 1990s I received my certification in purchasing from the Institute for Supply Management.
Over the years I have been amazed on how the traditional RFP process can be bogged down with overly complex RFPs with open ended questions which yield volumes of marketing spin, rather than true vendor capabilities. I believe there is a better way.
I am currently working with a major resort on an acquisition of a new central reservation system. After reviewing their 900+ RFP (created by another consultant a few years ago), I decided a more effective acquisition strategy was needed. The path we’ve followed, required my client to narrow down a list of (25) Mandatory Requirements. I then conducted interviews with a number of suppliers using the Mandatory Requirements as a guideline. If the supplier did not meet any of the requirements, they were eliminated. The selection team then used Web conferencing technology to view demos from the qualified vendors, and rated each based on their software application’s functionality. A scorecard was used to translate each team member’s qualitative evaluation into a quantitative rating, thus forcing a ranking of the remaining suppliers. Our next step will be to further narrow down the selection to a 3-4 short list of vendors. Each vendor will then be invited back for a multi-hour live demonstration controlled by test scripts which force the vendor to show their product’s key functionality. The end result of this procurement process is a deeper understanding of a narrow set of qualified vendor’s capabilities. This shortens the acquisition process and yields a better result for the client.