Links to previous articles at the end
of this article
in this thread I outlined some key factors
in developing a robust procurement model and contract for
business information systems. This addressed strategic facilitation
and governance, the need for a robust and legally sound "Request
for Proposal" document and the need to base the "Business Requirement
Specification" on the strategic essence of the business.
looked at the importance of a
detailed "Bill of Services", the importance of "Precision Configuration, the
role of the "Business Simulation Laboratory", the need for a
formal contractually based "Go-live" Certificate, the use of legally sound
Certificates generally and the importance of a "Client Compact" as the reciprocal
contractual terms for a client to underpin a fixed price.
This article builds further on
these foundations by discussing "Executive Engagement", the "Facilitation of
Change", the "Bid Compliance Checklist", the "Adjudication Checklist", the importance of
a Prescribed "Bid Table of Contents", the key role of a comprehensive
"Reference Pack" and the importance of a Data Warehouse and Business
Intelligence as critical components of a total solution.
recent report "BBC
was 'complacent' over failed £100m IT
project" highlights the importance of a robust
procurement approach resulting in an enforceable
contract. Write-offs such as that suffered by the
BBC are entirely preventable. Recent experiences
are also relevant in considering what follows:
10. Executive Engagement
vital component of the Client Compact is executive
engagement, ensuring that Client Executives engage with
the process and provide critical input and decisions
timeously in a focused manner. This has been
discussed in more detail in the article on Executive
Custody in the "Real
Concomitant with this is a requirement for the Implementer to
mobilize staff who can operate at the Executive level effectively, such
that Client Executive time is limited to what is really required.
This necessitates a high standard of professionalism on the part of
the Implementer. Inherent in this approach is the role of
Strategic Facilitator -- a senior advisor who is able to represent the Client
Executives in terms of business and project insight to a significant
degree. The Strategic Facilitator is thus critical.
11. Facilitation of Change
"Change Management" is a key element of any large business systems
project. The common wording is inaccurate and unhelpful, I prefer
"Facilitation of Change". This is a role that the corporate
Human Resources function should be actively involved in.
Much traditional "Change Management" involves using training and other
measures as a blunt instrument to bludgeon staff into accepting badly
designed and badly configured solutions that push large amounts of work
out of the system and onto the users. A well configured and well
tested system, configured in close partnership with the business, will
be easy to teach and easy to operate, thereby significantly reducing the
Change Facilitation component.
That said, there remains a need for smoothing the path of change,
particularly for staff members who have their jobs radically redefined
or eliminated. Appropriate expertise should be a core element of
the requirement and the project.
The use of interactive computer based learning applications that test
personnel so that they are only released to use components of the system
once proven competent is strongly recommended.
12. Bid Compliance Checklist
Returning to the Tender documents, another key document is the
"Bid Compliance Checklist", a list of all the documents that bidders are
required to submit as part of their offer.
This checklist was originally created as an internal client bid
evaluation team document, but I have found that it is helpful to provide
the checklist to the bidders and have them initial every item to
indicate whether they have provided the item or not.
13. Bid Adjudication Schedule
The Bid Adjudication Schedule is developed by the Executive Team,
facilitated by the Strategic Facilitator and comprises a hierarchical
classification of the Key Criteria to be used in adjudicating the bid.
I generally work with between 7 and 9 primary criteria, each of which
is broken down into between 5 and 9 secondary criteria. Each
primary category is weighted out of 100% to indicate relative importance
and the child criteria are similarly weighted. The primary weight
is then applied to the secondary weight in order to give the overall
weighing of each of the roughly 49 points. These are the most
important factors to be used in evaluating each bid.
The schedule is included in the Tender documents as a "Draft
for Information" so that bidders are informed as to the most important
elements that their offer must address. This ensures that bids are
more readily compared and that bidders focus on what is really
important to the client in the summary of their bid, both in the bid
documents and bid presentation.
The schedule is issued as a draft on the basis that, during the
evaluation process, the adjudication team may revise the criteria as
they gain insight into the offers. This allows the business to
revise the criteria or the weights. Remember, the goal is the BEST
solution for the organization NOT some school room arbitrary rigor that
gets in the way of the optimum solution.
The structured and weighted list ensures that the most important items
receive most focus, this works far more reliably as a decision support
tool than a simple list of about 49 points without hierarchy. This
is FAR better than the lists of hundreds of detail points that I have
seen applied on numerous occasions on sub-optimal projects.
Frequently badly structured lists result in bad buying decisions.
thought out lists, as with all the points regarding structure
of information raised in associated articles, facilitate quality decisions
-- the issue is the THINKING that goes into the structured list in terms
of what is REALLY important from a decision making perspective.
14. Prescribed Bid Table of Contents
A detailed "Bid Pack Table of Contents" should be provided which
prescribes the Table of Contents that bidders must use for their
offer. This ensures that competing bids can be easily laid out
next to each other and compared on a section by section basis.
This also allows adjudicators to more readily engage with and
internalize competing offers, resulting in a more effective and
efficient adjudication process and a more defendable and better quality
This also makes it very easy to assess the extent to which bidders are
willing to align themselves with client requirements during the bid
process. A bidder who cannot be bothered to align with client
requirements at the bid stage is unlikely to align later on.
15. Comprehensive Pack of Reference Documents
order to make the required scale of the project visible
the Tender pack must include a comprehensive
set of reference documents as a
minimum requirement. This should include samples of all reports,
spreadsheets, outputs of custom software that is to be replaced,
etc. The goal is to define the current state as comprehensively as
In the first stage of the procurement these documents can be redacted
(sensitive detail removed or blacked out) but in the final stage of the
procurement the actual documents and spreadsheets should be furnished in
order to ensure that the preferred bidder is able to estimate
effectively. This obviously goes hand in hand with a robust
Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement.
It is important to note that this pack is a reference to the current
state of affairs and NOT a specification for the future. The
future requirement must be developed in detail during the discovery
stage once the software and implementer have been selected and there is
full knowledge of what is standard in the new solution. Budget
provision must also be made for further definition of new reports and
Business Intelligence models during the Laboratory stage.
16. Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence
As a general principle any new system should be accompanied by a Data
Warehouse and Business Intelligence component for analysis and reporting
purposes, particularly across multiple systems. Provision should
be made for this in the RFP or it should be explicitly excluded.
that, provided the principles outlined in the parallel
thread on "Strategically
Enriching your Business Information
Systems" are applied and the comments in the
" thread relating to data
engineering and precision configuration are taken into account, a wealth
of high value information will be unlocked in the data warehouse.
17. Three Stage Procurement Process
a. Stage 1: Narrowing the Field
b. Stage 2: Select Preferred Bidder
c. Stage 3: Detailed Discovery, Finalization of Project Plan and Contracting
d. Configuration, Customization, Testing and Commissioning
I have used this approach successfully to conduct fixed price fixed
business outcome projects, and hope that you will find it of value.
If you are embarking on any form of business systems procurement, large
or small, this approach can be adapted appropriately. It also has
application to procurement of other soft business improvement
services. Some of these principles can also be applied when
entering into negotiations to renew contracts with existing suppliers.
I offer advisory services with regard to the application of these
principles and would be delighted to discuss how I might be of
assistance. Please see the special offers at the end of this email
with regard to one day interventions that will afford you the
opportunity to add value with a small investment.
also offer sets of electronic template documents for the
above, one set suitable for small to medium size
projects and another suited to larger projects -- these
are available for purchase, email
Please forward this to anyone you think may find it of interest.
Dr James Robertson PrEng
James A Robertson and Associates Limited
Assisting clients to thrive through effective and efficient application of Business Information Systems
to serve the Almighty Creator in all
Mobile: +44 (0) 776-862-2875
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Articles published so far in the article series to which this email refers:
Business Information Systems Procurement
In order to fully apply the methods and principles discussed in the
threads above with regard to new systems it is vital that a robust and
effective approach to procurement is applied. This requires a
tough procurement approach directed at achieving a tough business
outcomes orientated project that ensures a high value outcome.
This thread discusses the components of such a procurement
approach. The individual documents and processes that make up the
approach are outlined. Thereafter the components will be discussed
in more detail. Articles to date include:
Bill of Services, Laboratory, Go-live Certificate,
extract from an email that I was copied
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multi-national client from whom I requested a referral
to contacts in Europe:
"About 3 years ago I
attended one of the best courses / lectures in IT I have
ever had at ... The lecturer was so on the ball
with my thinking that ... I thought he was
outstanding in all aspects, especially in
professionalism and delivery.
"This person (James
Robertson) now moved to the UK ... ... I have not met
another IT person quite as professional as James
Robertson, ... I wouldn’t be writing to you if I
wasn’t totally impressed by him. Call me if you
want to discuss further."
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