Top Five Ways To Get The Best Outcomes From Your RFP Process

 

Top Five Ways To Get The Best Outcomes From Your RFP Process

by Ken Pedersen

Ken Pedersen - Leadership

If you’re like most companies, when it comes to choosing a product or service delivery partner, you use a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) selection process. Be careful! RFPs can lead you to the very place you hoped to avoid: An arbitrary choice that yields a decision no better than just going with gut feeling.

Here are five ways to get the best outcomes from your RFP process:

  1. Give your vendors adequate time to analyze and address your complex needs.
  2. Strive for authentic dialog. Share real information about your requirements and observe whether your vendors care enough to take the time to understand them.
  3. Enlist vendor creativity and expertise by detailing what success looks like in business terms instead of obsessing about product features and competitive knock-offs.
  4. Make it a win for both you and them. Don’t make it all about price. While price is always important, ‘cost,’ has many dimensions (time, quality, opportunity cost). Balance initial out-of-pocket costs with generating the best overall return.
  5. Ask for commitments!  Prioritize in favor of suppliers who back their claims with their own investment in your outcomes.

One of the key problems with the RFP process is that it encourages gamesmanship that has little to do with making the best decisions.  Do your best to control the game-playing in favor of a more authentic process that unleashes the knowledge, experience and creativity of potential vendors.  The result? More enlightened decisions with better outcomes for everyone.

To continue the conversation, contact us.

When TV Meets Reality: A Corporate “Shark Tank” Brings Out The Innovators In Your Organization

 

When TV Meets Reality: A Corporate “Shark Tank” Brings Out The Innovators In Your Organization

by David Katauskas

Dave-Katauskas

For most organizations, growth and innovation go hand in hand.

Innovation enables you to create new products and services that generate additional sources of revenue. It reinforces company culture and promotes deeper engagement. And it helps organizations attract the creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who often become your most valuable assets.

But innovation is easier said than done. While an organization may think it is being innovative, if it doesn’t go past academic exercises and brainstorm sessions it’s falling short. Innovation involves action. It means putting ideas to work.

In a custom software company like Geneca, innovation plays a key role. Last year, we decided to get more creative in how champion innovation by producing our own version of “Shark Tank”, based loosely on the hit ABC show.

While it certainly had its challenges, not only did our Shark Tank bring out the innovators, it also taught us some valuable lessons along the way.

Swimming With the Sharks

While the idea of doing a shark tank sounds like fun, doing it right requires a serious commitment from the top. It takes resources to implement and, in our case, requires ongoing product support. Once you have alignment on that, you are ready to take the next steps:

  • Find your contestants: Two months before the shark tank event, we held an “anything goes” Innovation Meet Up where interested employees got three minutes to pitch their ideas.  The meet-up audience each received five votes to use on one or more ideas.  Six shark tank contestants emerged with products that ranged from a digital wallet to an iPhone app for drinking establishments to detect alcohols level by bottle size.
  • Set the tank criteria: Next, the Shark Tank judges (for us, this was our Executive Team) set the criteria to evaluate the Shark Tank contestants.  Since we were planning to design and develop the product, we needed to consider the potential for monetization.  If the product was for internal use, were there enough nontangible benefits to the workplace?  Was the cost to develop and support the product reasonable?
  • Create the business plans: In order to move on to the shark tank, each Meet Up finalist was required to submit a business plan for their product or service.  Employees from our Marketing and Finance Departments volunteered to coach the contestants on preparing their plans.
  • Pick the winner: The judges met with each finalist to review the requisite business plan  as well as product demos.

Our winning product was an online business process gaming application called GRIT (Geneca Recognition Instilment Tool). Through GRIT, employees are able to recognize and reward each other for going above-and-beyond. GRIT was selected because while it was clearly strong on fun, cool, and learning, it also did an outstanding job reinforcing our core value of giving and receiving feedback.

OK … We Have a Winner. Now what?

Now it was time to build the winning product.

We treated the development of GRIT the same way manage our client projects. This meant creating roles similar to those in our typical engagement – including the client side. We took this seriously and even wore hats when we played the client role to help us stay in character.

Once there was agreement on the scope, cost, value proposition and success criteria for the first release of the product, development began. Just as with any other product launch, a change management plan was adopted that included employee communications (what “it” is; when it’s coming; and how will I use “it”).

In Q4 of 2013, we launched GRIT at a company meeting to an enthusiastic audience. During the meeting, each employee received a welcome email with a link to the system and basic starting instructions.

However, this is not the end … nor should it ever be in the life cycle of a product. Geneca will continue to improve GRIT as a valuable workplace tool.

So What Did We Learn?

We emerged from our first shark tank experience a little smarter in several ways.

First, from an implementation perspective, we gained some important insight on how to bring the winning idea to production:

  • Establish a set of repeatable guidelines for taking a concept from ideation to product launch
  • Commit to the financial investment (in hard dollar costs) to not only build, but continue support of the product beyond the launch
  • Engage leadership to provide sufficient business coaching to the finalists
  • Make sure you have the appropriate roles in place for ongoing product support

Role playing the client side of the project provided us with benefits well beyond the value of delivering GRIT to Geneca.  This allowed us to really “walk” in our clients shoes and experience how they see us. Just as important, it also helped the finalists (for the most part our younger employees) go beyond their IT roles and learn what’s involved in growing an idea into a business.

As we get ready for our 2014 Shark Tank  adventure, we go in a little wiser but equally enthusiastic.

 

To continue the conversation, contact us.

Geneca is Recognized as “Volunteer of the Year”

Geneca is Recognized as “Volunteer of the Year”

lumity-logoGeneca is proud to announce that it was recognized at Lumity’s Annual Dinner for its work in helping Lumity improve team effectiveness in its role with the STEM initiative as liaison between the Chicago Public School system and the business community. Geneca was also recognized for the impact of its skills-based volunteer program, Projects with Purpose.

“This year we couldn’t just pick one volunteer. Lumity is thrilled to award 10 Geneca employees as Volunteers of the Year,” said Lumity Executive Director, Kara Kennedy. “Being able to experience the Geneca process has truly helped us grow up as a team and make a huge leap forward in working more effectively together. Their work has helped to set us up for major success.”


2014 Volunteers of the Year

Competitive Advantages Through Software

Competitive Advantages Through Software

IncIn this interview in Inc., Geneca’s CEO Joel Basgall explains that no matter what your business makes or provides, the only competitive advantage you can truly count on keeping is software. Find out how software can help you enhance your product or service and help you discover innovative, new ways to generate revenue.


Why You Need To Be A Software Company

Geneca and Lumity Team Up to Streamline the STEM Program

Geneca and Lumity Team Up to Streamline the STEM Program

lumity-logoAs a technology company, we’re proud to be part of Chicago’s STEM initiative. We believe that support from the business community will have a huge impact on the ability of Chicago to enable the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators. Not only is this important for the Chicago business community, but it’s a priority for our country’s short and long-term future. Geneca recognizes this, and used our business and technology facilitation expertise to help Lumity succeed in their role to coordinate efforts between corporate volunteers and Chicago Public Schools.


Geneca Lends A Hand To Lumity

Lead Business Analysts Focus On Execution, Process

Lead Business Analysts Focus On Execution, Process

ModernAnalystCharlene Ceci, Senior Lead Business Analyst, and John Pobloske, Lead Business Analyst, outline the many important roles Lead BAs play on a project, including managing staff and overseeing all business analysis activities. This third installment of our four part series provides detailed job responsibilities and best practices.

Read the Modern Analyst article here:

Are You Ready For The Challenge?

Geneca’s CEO: ‘Radical’ Software Expansion Would Benefit Many Businesses

Geneca’s CEO: ‘Radical’ Software Expansion Would Benefit Many Businesses

wired logoJoel Basgall, Geneca’s CEO, discusses the importance of improving products and increasing capabilities with software, especially for companies that may not typically use technology to its fullest. In this Wired blog post, Basgall explains why business owners should dramatically rethink software’s role in their business strategy, because it may mean the difference between surviving and succeeding today. Read the full post here:


Every Software Becomes A Software Company

The Geneca Version of “Shark Tank” Puts Creativity Into Action

The Geneca Version of “Shark Tank” Puts Creativity Into Action

IncTim Kippley, Geneca’s Chief Strategy Officer, explains how Geneca’s Innovation Challenge, loosely modeled on the hit television show “Shark Tank,” reinforces company culture and promotes deeper engagement. In this Inc. magazine profile, Kippley and Geneca CEO Joel Basgall provide the full backstory on the contest and explain the important role it plays in advancing organizational growth and business strategy.


Shark Tank Killer Idea Competition

Reverse Mentoring Bridges The Generational Gap

Reverse Mentoring Bridges The Generational Gap

techwell_logoYoung hires are typically shown the corporate ropes by more seasoned staff, mentored on how to handle various workplace scenarios and career management. But can the tables be turned? Genecian and author of The Reluctant Mentor, Lew Sauder, explains the many benefits of reverse mentoring in the IT industry, such as using recent hires to enlighten more seasoned staff about new technology like social media.

Read the Better Software article here:

Reverse Mentoring

Geneca CEO: Tips on Mastering the Decision-Making Process

Geneca CEO: Tips on Mastering the Decision-Making Process

middlemarketcenterJoel Basgall, Geneca’s CEO, provides advice to other leaders on the best ways to steer middle-market companies to long-term success. In this post, Basgall tells the National Center for the Middle Market that big decisions don’t necessarily have to be stressful, so long as they move you closer to your vision of success.

Read the full piece here:

How Middle Market Leaders Can Enhance Their Decision Making Process