Ben his article “Consultancy” != “Cover your ass” is all about ethics and “How to Help your Customer in the Best Possible Way“. Recently, but also quite often in the past, I was involved in RFI & RFP processes and i can say, I was good at it. Master in discovering the hot buttons of all parties involved in the decision process, doing a great job at turning the customer’s scenario into a beautiful demo, hacking fancy user interfaces around the clock, write the right answers in the proposal. Hans Klok could not do it better ;-).

But I have learned that traditional Request For Proposal (RFP) process is often not bringing the best for the customer.

“In a nutshell, customers learn very little if anything when asking service providers or vendors to go through such an RFP and bake-off process”.

According to Wikipedia “A Request for Proposal (referred to as RFP) is an invitation for suppliers, often through a bidding process, to submit a proposal on a specific commodity or service.”

Such a selection process usually takes 3 to 6 months. Once completed, the winning vendor deploys an army of consultants, not half as good as the one used for the RFP. And because the customer wasn’t really involved in the processes’ implementation to begin with, any hope that changes could be applied by the customer’s staff directly is just wishful thinking.

Concrete has been poured, dried up, and is now solid as a rock.

Opportunity cost are huge and what to think about the business who is waiting and waiting on IT and procurement while they have to keep up with competition and meet their KPI’s.

Let us be honest and admit that our industry (BPM, SOA, CMS, portal, intranet, wiki, enterprise search whatever) is young and immature and far from commodity and needs highly skilled consultants to do the job.

Would it not be better to do a Proof of Concept instead of going through the excersise of crafting huge laundry lists of features suggested by analyst firms and enriched by all possible stakeholders?

It has to be clear that executing a Proof of Concept in a partnership with the customer (with open books and as also the customer is participating and paying for it) is only in the interest of those suppliers that have indeed a good or great product and not relying on millions of marketing budget to cover up their weaknesses. Millions they could better invest in their R&D, see for more on this theme the books “Blue Ocean Strategy” and “the Momentum effect“.

Some of the sentences i borrowed from this interesting article.

Commodity and Ethics in IT, why a PoC is better than a RFP Process