Monday, November 16, 2009

Deane Barker's tips on requests for proposals

While it may seem counter-intuitive to listen to a supplier telling you how to buy, you should definitely read Deane Barker's article "Five Tips to Getting a Good Response to a Content Management RFP." Deane is a co-founder of Blend Interactive, a web design and development firm. That may put him on the other side of the negotiation table but, as a potential partner, he wants you to be successful in your initiative as much as you do. That is actually not so out of the ordinary. As a consultant, you want to spend your time with clients who you have a great working relationship with. The better consultants can be more selective in the opportunities they pursue and nothing sends off more bad vibes than a dysfunctional selection process.

The article agrees with all the advice that I give on my blog (it even quotes me!). The one tip that buyers are going to question is openly stating budget. I tend to go back and forth on that myself. The benefit is that budget is the best way to communicate what you think the size of the project is. Getting that piece of information out in the open early will help the vendor present a solution that is in line with what you had envisioned. It also reduces the risk of harboring unrealistic expectations of what you can do. The risk of communicating budget is that the integrator will inflate the price to maximize margin. My current thinking is that you shouldn't be working with a partner who you fear will take advantage of you. You should structure your selection process to verify the integrity as much as the skills and experience of the vendor.

If you are in the market for a development partner, read these tips. If you can get to Boston next month, you should join me in my CMS Selection Workshop at the Gilbane conference. In fact, Deane is going to be there too.