How do you procure software?
If you are responsible for sourcing software how do you approach it?
Would you tackle it as any other category and send out an RFP, or use the opportunity to see a demo as a way to pre-qualify some suppliers?
Having had the benefit of sitting on both sides of the fence as a seller & buyer of tech services, I would first suggest you consider not responding to unsolicited RF(x) invitations; can we win this should be the first question you ask internally? If the response is "yes we can", a deep dive into the specific user requirements is a necessary step assuming the buying org is happy to permit this step. Too many procurement RFP 'factories' do not allow themselves this step in their all too rigid process.
From experience, the buyer could be engaging you for any one of a number of reasons, the least of which is to appoint a new service provider (market testing / price comparison / benchmarking / leverage against incumbent). Furthermore, responding to RF(x) documents is a costly, time consuming & resource intensive exercise with little to no benefit if your org is unsuccessful.
Solution / platform demos are so much simpler than they once were. The SaaS Ecosystems that are provided through channels such as Salesforce provide for 'sandbox' access allowing the buyer to plug n play in a harmless environment. The value here is the buying environment and its internal stakeholders have an opportunity to litmus test their IT strategy, UR criteria, customisation required, usability, F&B to synthesise their needs.
I would also suggest the buying / procurement team should embark on their journey at the 'sandbox' stage such that they can assess market capability of the available solution platforms. This will enable a laser focus on the 'right' vendor to provide the most fit for purpose solution platform. At this point if an RF(x) is necessary to select a vendor from a shortlist, at least it will be populated with UR's & SOR's that best represent their need.
Finally, too many procurement functions have a tendency to commoditise almost all category taxonomies; software is no different. If your strategic selling techniques are sound you could make a +ive impact on the RFP factories to change their mindset as to the most efficient methods to approach the market.
Very carefully.....Ensure IT are closely involved for compatibility with existing platforms. Ensure your requester has done all the DD to ensure it meets their needs. Hosting is another area to be conscious of as certain companies insist all data is stored in AU, so if it is a cloud based solution, ensure you Corporate Risk department has approved it. Also, if it is Cloud based and confidential data will be stored, ensure their security is approved by your CIO. Licensing is the next area where, depending on the software, you probably have little power. For example, Microsoft dictate the cost so you have little choice but to select their options, though smaller solution companies are prepared to negotiate. Make sure your license has user bands so that you do not exceed your license user limit, software companies love to fine you., or a stepped user license increase cost framework.
Hope that helps though I could be more focused if i knew what software you are intending to buy.
In the recent procurement's I have undertaken, I have got IT and other technical areas to compile a functionality checklist. With essential features and functionality. We then engaged potential providers through a demo ensuring they meet the essential criteria. I have found meeting with suppliers for demo's without some form of crib sheet can lead to products being desired subjectively rather than objectively. Following the demo's we speak with the providers who have met the essential criteria to further explore the functionality to establish commonality amongst the providers which helps us develop a generic specification. From that we run a competitive exercise (I have done both a tender exercise and competitive negotiation) and achieved very good outcomes.
Got it, sorry for misreading the Question. If you are looking to sell software to an organisation there has be a need, efficiency benefit, Governance/risk benefit. I will go to my favorite three question approach I always ask of my team. 1/ WHAT - is it 2/ WHY - do we want it 3/ HOW - will it work/integrate/deliver. If you can answer these three questions when you present, you will have your foot in the door.
Stephen Rowe - thanks for your reply. To use your own terminology I'm asking more from the poacher, rather than game-keeper perspective. We will quite often get sent lengthy RFP's from prospects with a long list of features and questions; many of which I would argue are not very necessary, and can lead to more cumbersome and difficult to use solutions. It also creates a very inefficient process for both sides, with many hours spent completing the document and then being analysed by the other side.
I wondered if you thought given the rise of SaaS and the ease at which product demo's can now be done, if there was potentially a different way to do this to make it more efficient?