Nobody needs a new system! Accounting, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), whatever... nobody needs the system. What buyers really need is a solution to their business challenges. So why is the solution absent from the Request for a Proposal (RFP) process? It’s time we start putting our business challenges before requirements.
Every year, more than 10% of the market is looking for a new system to implement that solves a problem or challenge they are facing. From Accounting to Association Management, companies are flooding the market with Requests for Proposals (RFP) on various technologies and software solutions.
But the current RFP process is taxing on both buyers and sellers, and usually leaves companies disappointed with their selected solution. Why? The answer lies in the process itself: Buyers are requesting for solutions that meet requirements without defining their challenges first.
The RFP Process: A Long-drawn-out Dance between Buyers & Sellers
In the RFP process, buyers have the daunting task of researching systems, which includes attending all-day presentations, watching countless demos, comparing an unending list of vendors, and assembling all this information into one huge document — a list of requirements that spell out the need for something called a “Financial Management System” or an “Enterprise Reporting System” (ERP) such as
And most sellers aren’t too fond of the RFP process either — just responding is considered a victory. Sellers want to do more that respond to a request list, they want to help the real people, to understand the buyer’s challenges.
Why is the RFP Process like this?
So why do buyers go through this time-consuming process just to end up saying, “I don’t remember which vendor showed me which system!”
Common responses to this question include:
- “We want an even playing field.”
- “We want multiple offers.”
- “We want a comprehensive view of the market.”
These sound like logical reasons for the way the RFP process is, but they all miss the point and rarely help buyers find the best vendor with the right solutions.
Focus on the Challenge, not the Software
For companies, the RFP process always disappoints in the end. Expectations aren’t met and goals aren’t achieved because they were never set in the first place.
Buyers are looking for the solution, but they haven’t identified their business challenges or problems to vendors.
How to Change the RFP Process for Buyers
Buyers need to start asking hard questions that address real problems or challenges in the company.
Instead of requesting for a proposal, buyers need to request solutions to specific problems like reducing corporate risk or operational overhead.
What if a buyer requested…
- Increasing ROI by 20%, OR…
- SOX Compliance
Buyers just might get real solutions and skip the long-drawn-out process altogether.
I stand by my statement: Nobody needs a new system! What every company needs is a solution to a problem. Yes, these systems were designed to solve such business problems, but buyers often choose the wrong one, resulting in a waste of time/money and an implementation that never lives up to buyer expectations.
The next time your company submits a RFP for a new system, break the cycle! Don’t settle for a process that turns out a system you don’t need. Only settle for technology solutions that actually solve your problems.
Find out how your organization can leverage BroadPoint’s industry knowledge, strategic direction and technology expertise. Contact BroadPoint at firstname.lastname@example.org,
by Broad Point
1 thought on “Solutions Not Systems — Why Buyers Need to Put Business Challenges before Software Requirements”
Great article and advice. Back in the 80s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) was deemed the panacea for business pains caused by operational inefficiencies and disjointed applications. Then came the realization that ERP was not the final solution but just one piece of the puzzle. In addition we learned that change was not just a software issue, that implementation is not the same as installation, and that the cost of ERP is not a one-time expense. Above all we learned that ERP is only part of a business solution.