You have identified project scope and stakeholders, written the RFP, scored responses, narrowed the field to a short list, learned some new things in the process, and finally, chosen a vendor. Yes, contract signing will happen, but then what?
First, determine how you want to engage your new vendor team.
- Do you have any specific lessons learned from past RFP projects that should apply to this effort? Duplicating past issues only frustrates all involved and can be expensive. Be sure to avoid these by taking a step back and applying lessons learned.
- Identify your external trusted advisor(s) for the project. In a perfect world, you will have someone from your vendor company who is more interested in your success than the purchase order or other vendor financial metrics. This person will likely ensure you have the best project experience possible from the vendor side. If this is not the case, push back on your vendor.
- Last, before kicking the project off, make sure you know exactly how the vendor will be on-boarded and integrated into the team/organization. Clarity on scope, roles, responsibilities, and overall expectations are crucial to setting the proper tone of the project.
In some ways, the project work itself is the easiest part for many companies. You have done the hard part of writing the RFP, carefully selecting the right vendor, and now it is time to sit back and let them drive the effort. This does not mean it is time to party and come back when the work is done, however, much of the pressure does shift to your vendor. For them it is “go time.”
Second, make sure you understand your vendor’s project methodology and validate that it is the right fit for you.
- Be sure to ask questions as you need. Do not hesitate to ask the vendor to explain their process and methodology. If their process is not the ideal fit for you, push back.
- (Shameless plug, we prefer Agile Consulting). We find that “change” (whatever that means to you) is one of the most important factors in all projects, especially ones that spawn from an RFP. It is important to be able to provide an environment where change is possible to ensure the vendor is enabling the business, not disabling it. If you do this correctly, scope can shift as needed without dreaded scope creep.
Finally, when the project work has been completed, do not stop the overall effort.
- Many organizations forget two critical components of post-project activities, success measurement and lessons learned.
- For success measurement, it is important to understand not only the time and budget aspects, but the other measurement criteria the initial RFP team had in mind. Each company/organization will have a different set of criteria, however, if these are properly collected in the RFP itself (or project scope), there is a baseline to measure against for success.
- In addition, it is critical that teams always perform lessons learned activities. This can be a simple all-hands meeting, but use it as a forum to discuss what went poorly and what went well. Make sure to include the original RFP design and procurement teams to see what they have to add. We recommend companies that provide RFPs to vendors ensure they follow a framework to ensure constant maturation.
There are many aspects to consider once you have chosen a vendor to do your program/project work. Make sure you think through the entire lifecycle of the process, from RFP creation to lessons learned. This will setup your company for success.