Time to change the way we buy technology
So it makes sense that they need better, inter-operable mobile, social media, display advertising, and search channels tools. Many vendors of these marketing technologies have upped their game in response to, or to try and get ahead of, these transformed needs. As these digital experience marketing platform (DXMP) offerings have evolved and become more comprehensive and complex, it also stands to reason that the way these technologies are purchased and implemented also needs to evolve.
An evolution for technology procurement
Newsflash #2: The majority of technology procurement practices involve a request for proposal (RFP) phase that is often based on a template that is the same whether the company is buying accounting solutions, warehouse management solutions, or a DXMP .
Having worked with clients on technology selections for more years than I care to admit, I, personally, would love to see a world where requests for proposals (RFP) no longer exist, at least not in their traditional form that include tick-box tables for features and functions. It could be easily argued, particularly by those of the non-procurement ilk, that every aspect of the traditional request for proposal (RFP) process needs to change. This isn’t necessarily the case – a multi-vendor evaluation and selection process can still one of the best ways to help ensure that a company maintains a good position for negotiation with new and existing partners. That being said, keeping that approach doesn’t prescribe the need for an RFP as part of that process.
Need more convincing?
Here are a few other reasons why a better procurement process for (marketing) technology is needed include:
- Traditional procurement processes tend favor legacy relationships, not innovation or merit.
- RFPs tend to be a “one size fits all” structure with little room or accommodation for new or innovative business practices, needs, or technology.
- RFPs are overly structure limiting the opportunity for respondents to educate and bring new ideas to the requesting company.
- Today’s RFP’s are overly-reliant on the quantity of “features”, rather than the contextual fit and a need for more service-oriented experiences from today’s vendors.
- Procurement teams drive the decision more than the affected teams and end users affected by the decision.
- New business and marketing language and practices need new and improved procurement language and practices.
The opportunities for procurement process improvements come from both the shake-up in the traditional order of operations, as well in creating a foundation from which the RFP document (if required) is built.
Building a better RFP
Newsflash #3: The RFP isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s okay.
Request for proposals bring structure and organization to the process helping mitigate risk, staying aligned with the procurement project’s goals, as well as provide clarity on the pros and cons of each partner – vendor and service provider – being considered. Its not so much the document itself needs to disappear, but rather what is asked for and the manner in which it was done is what needs to be transformed. Characteristically highly prescriptive in nature, traditional RFPs typically don’t provide respondents the opportunity to be innovative in their responses or approach. More significantly, they rarely capture the actual, real-world requirements of the company.
What is needed is a more open-ended and flexible approach that, first, allows the organization to create the right atmosphere for assembling the request, rather than managing a prescribed procurement process. This important first step provides organizations the flexibility to make their ask in context of what is “needed” to support a smart strategy – rather than “what is possible” in any given strategy. Digital Clarity Group’s RFP/Procurement Tool for today’s Marketer is meant to help organizations take this first step, by acting as a guide on evaluating the business problem at hand, establishing an understanding on the company overall readiness to undertake a selection and subsequent implementation of a DXMP, and determining affected teams’ marketing maturity. Insight into these crucial factors, along with the remainder of the RFP Tool, can help build a better procurement process for marketers.
Marketers also have to take more ownership of the DXMP procurement process, and, at a minimum, work with their procurement team to co-lead (if not able to take the overall lead) in gathering requirements, determining the actual need, and finding the right fit partners … be it with or without the involvement of an RFP.
Want more help? Digital Clarity Group’s consulting team has helped many organizations, large and small, identify and select the best-fit service provider and technology for their business needs. Give us a call; we’d love to help.