SI Has Been Telling You Solution Provider RFX Templates SUCK for Years!

For almost seven (7) years to be precise – ever since it published its now classic post On Technology RFPs: Don’t Put the Cart Before the Host where it noted that more and more buyers were putting together ridiculously over-specified and complex RFPs for its technology solutions that often eliminated all but the worst solution one could possibly imagine before the first response was even received!

And yet, the doctor missed this two-part series later this spring by Thomas Kase over on Spend Matters where he asked Why Set Yourself Up to Fail Don’t Use Traditional Solution RFPs (and Part II).

In it he notes that most RFX Templates are bad — not just the ones for technology solutions (which started my rants seven years ago) — and he’s right! Most of them are generalized mash-ups of dozens of RFXs that have been pushed through the solution over the years by a user base which consist of watered-down versions of the most general questions and cost categories, along with a few extra questions and cost requests that the vendor believes are becoming more common and/or more important. As a result you get a one-size-fits-all garment that, depending on your organization, will be two sizes two big, two sizes two small, lopsided, backwards, or even inside out. How can you possibly expect to get a good response from your supplier when you send them a proposal that doesn’t even define your requirements?

Needless to say, the doctor was not surprised to hear Thomas say it was (and probably still is) are to see a well-written RFP built on a clear use case, with sufficient data and other information to provide the solid assessment of needs that is needed to deliver a response that is reasonably close to what the client needs in order to make a down-selection, or even an award recommendation.

As a result, this is the reason why cold-call solution RFPs (from previously unknown prospects) are unlikely to receive much attention. The better the firm is, the busier they are, and more likely to weed out such RFPs — and the responses you get back can very well be from firms that are either less capable (desperate) or haven’t truly understood your needs. In other words, reducing your chances of a successful first round outcome.

So how can you fix the situation? Come back tomorrow and we’ll cover recommendations from both Thomas and the doctor who has been, and will be, ranting and raving about this for years!

There’s More Than 50 Ways …

… to leave your lover. There’s more than 50 shades of grey (as there is infinite intensity to grey-scale). And there’s certainly more than 50 shades of pay

Over on Spend Matters, Pierre Mitchell is penning a series on 50 Shades of Pay: Spend Analysis’ Many Profitable Pleasures where he notes that spend analysis is not a quickie event and nothing could be closer to the truth. Spend Analysis is an on-going process that never ends. There’s always new spend, always new quotes, and always new ways to look at data. It’s wham, bam, spend cube and start all over again. And again. And again.

And it must be an evolving competency that is refined over and over again. There are many reasons for this, and, as Pierre pointed out,these include the facts that:

  • You can’t manage and improve what you cannot see
    and the more you see, the more you manage, and the more you’ll manage, the more you’ll see …
  • It’s a fundamental part of corporate strategy as the more you see and manage, the better you’ll be able to manage your resources and opportunities, which is what corporate strategy should be focussed on.
  • Managing your spending includes internal spending too even if you can’t control it, you still need to understand what it is, where it is going, who controls it, what could be done about it, and what the recommendations should be.
  • Spend analysis is a gift for your partners – not an IT project because it really is decision support for the organization.
  • Spend is the flip side of supply and it is about maximizing bang (supply value) for the spent buck (spend magnitude). It’s the other end of the source-to-settle process. And to optimize your Supply Management, you need to optimize your entire source-to-settle process.
  • Finance will get even more turned on by spend analysis than you if you do it right. They like shiny reports — and a good spend analysis solution can produce them en masse. (The reporting engine is actually the least useful part of a good spend analysis tool, but just like Sonny goes cuckoo for cocoa puffs, finance and the C-Suite love their reports.)
  • Spend analysis shines a bright light on the master data problems which can be cranked up to the point that it’s blinding. Some people may be embarrassed at the mess master data is in (because they spent millions on a broken ERP), but what’s more import, their pride or your bonus (which requires the company to be profitable)?
  • It’s incremental in nature – the Trojan rabbit of procurement transformation. Just like the rabbit of Caerbannog, it looks cute and sweet, but, in the right hand, spend analysis is a vicious killer of inefficiency and waste.

If Pierre manages to write 50 pieces, it will shape up to be a great series for those of you who have Plus membership. For those of you who don’t, I’ll remind you that SI co-wrote the book on Spend Visibility with Lexington Analytics 3 years ago, and this book, which has garnered over 10,000 downloads since its release, is still available for free. I’m sure Pierre will get to more advanced topics in the later part of his series then what we covered in the book, but it’s a great start. And maybe by then you can convince your boss to pay for the Plus membership to read Pierre’s posts.

Sourcing? Yes! Sourcing Tool? Maybe …

Yes, that’s right. (Strategic) Sourcing? Yes! Sourcing Tool? Maybe!

As a regular reader you’re probably confused as this blog has been advocating the acquisition and implementation of strategic sourcing solutions since day one, tirelessly explaining the benefits they can bring to one and all if they are appropriately selected, implemented, and utilized.

The reality is that a system that doesn’t support your needs and organizational processes, that is cumbersome to use and costs more in organizational inefficiency than it returns in savings or value identification, or that just sits on the shelf because your employees refuse to use it en-masse has no value. It has to be the right system for you. This system may be a low-end system, even though, as pointed out by The Prophet over on Spend Matters in his three-part series on Lower End Sourcing (Part I, Part II, and Part III),

these tools often lack more advanced capabilities, including tighter integration into third-party tools; supplier collaboration processes and overall project management; category management and comprehensive knowledge repositories; advanced workflow support and automation; access restrictions and audits beyond the basics; and advanced data collection and bid analysis

because, if an organization is just (gasp!) beginning its sourcing journey, is at the low end of the mid-tier and has relatively simple buys, or is understaffed and just needs to get the job done and get some quick hits to get more budget and support for a bigger and better system, it might be the right tool for the job. Or, if the organization is a large multi-national with complex category buys with a significant amount of its products coming from Asia, it could be the worst tool for the job, unable to support the detailed bids required, the Mandarin language for the English-challenged Chinese suppliers, or capture the information necessary for compliance and regulatory support.

An organization needs the right tool for the job — and it’s not always as simple as organizational size. One might think that Fortune 500 / Global 2000 always needs the most complex sourcing solution, high-end mid-tier needs a mid-market leader, and emerging mid-market needs a low-end solution, but that’s not always the case. It depends on what the organization is sourcing, how it is sourcing, and the gaps in current organizational systems and processes. There are situations where a low-end sourcing system is perfect for a Fortune 500. Take a bank, for instance. Most of what it sources are services. As a result, it probably has a great services and talent management solution, but needs something better for office supplies, servers, and other consumables. These are not the most complex categories or the most complex buys anymore. And a mid-market player designing custom manufactured electronic components, which uses outsourced manufacturing in China and Brazil, probably needs a significantly more advanced sourcing solution than other companies with a similar valuation.

So while the doctor fully supports sourcing systems and believes every company should have one, like a shoe, the system has to fit (like a glove). Otherwise, just like a dancer with two left feet, the organization will constantly be tripping over itself and see no benefit at all.

Today Is A Historic Day for LOLCats!

Cat Film Festivals are the new craze and today you can see your favourite internet cat stars North and South of the border!

Today, if you happen to be in Vancouver, you can check out Just For Cats, an Internet Cat Film Festival that has been touring the country coast to coast, and if you are in Indy, you can check out the Internet Cat Video Festival!

What does LOLCat have to say about this?

I am ready for my closeup!

60 Years Ago Today A New Era in Air Transport Was Born

Sixty (60) years ago saw the first flight of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. Originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft, the airframe was adapted over the years to airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research, aerial refuelling, patrol, and aerial firefighting — and now it is the main tactical airliner for military forces around the globe. There are now over 40 models and variants of the Hercules in service in more than sixty (60) countries.

With a range of 1,300 miles or 2,000 kilometers, take-off capability from short and unprepared strips, and the ability to fly with one engine shut down, back in 1954, the new Hercules represented a considerable step forward in supply and transport capability. And this was just the beginning. A number of enhancements have been made to the Hercules over the years to the point where it’s still poised to be the transport vehicle of choice for years to come. Right now, the US Air Mobility Command, Air Force Materiel Command, and the Air Force Research Labs are in the early stages of defining requirements for the C-X next generation airlifted program to replace the C-130s and C-17s. But this isn’t the first time a program has been proposed to replace, rather than improve, the C-130s. Programs to replace the C-130s were proposed as early as the 1980s, but the end result was always improvement of the C-130 design. The most likely outcome is a next generation C-X that takes into account everything learned over the years and produces a next generation Hercules transport vehicle.