CRM Tendering Tips Part 2: You Get The Price You Ask For And The Solution You Pay For
My budget, my party
Most request for tender (RFT) documents I read do not state the budget which has been allocated to the CRM project or programme. The main reason given for this when discussed later, is that the submitted tender responses will determine the budget – a chicken and egg situation. However in my experience, before an organisation goes through an arduous tendering process, there is normally an internal budgetary range agreed to match an identified business need. The question is should you disclose this?
My recommendation would be to include in your RFT, a glimpse of this budget to help inform those responding as to the level of support this project will have within the organisation. This could be implied in a number of ways without necessarily giving the budget number away. For instance:
- As a proportion of your IT, marketing budget
E.g. “This project will represent a significant priority for the marketing department who have an annual investment budget of 1.2 million.”
- As a proportion of the savings expected
E.g. “This project will likely allow the reassignment of somewhere between 3-5 sales support staff to focus on outbound sales.”
- As a proportion of the revenue targeted
E.g. “This project will support the sales team in increasing current annual sales by 20% from €12m, simply by following a structured, targeted selling process.”
- Using indicative effort **Use with Caution**
E.g. “For comparative purposes, please complete the following indicative pricing table for a mix of project resources.” Be careful with this as you are straying into the ‘solutioning’ area and this approach should only be used if you are already experienced in CRM projects.
|Resource Type||Days||Total Price|
|Lead CRM Consultant||20|
Opening the kimono just a little bit gives the potential respondents a glimpse of your investment level.
You get the price you ask for
When you do give a hint as to your budget, a magical thing will happen when you start collating the tender responses – the majority of your responses will align to that budget. You will however also get the outliers; these fall into two camps:
- Very, very cheap: These will be responses from organisations who won’t have relevant experience and need to buy references. Nothing wrong with this, we would have started out in this mode. Looking back, you can as a customer get great value, but realise you take the lion’s share of the risk here as you cannot depend on the partner’s depth or experience and you will suffer any reputational damage as a result of a failed implementation.
- Very, very expensive: These will be responses from organisations who will/need to deliver services they think you will need, in addition to those you’ve asked for. Again this is not a bad thing, but realise you will be paying for risk mitigation and the security of knowing that this organisation will be able to leverage manpower and expertise should the project run into difficulty.
Assuming you look at the cluster of responses in and around your budget, then you now have the ability to apply sense checking on the solutions and approaches provided. In order to give a level of certainty of pricing, every response will be littered with assumptions stating where they expect something to be in place or of a certain complexity. Review all these with care and discard any response without adequate assumptions – you will end up paying for this omission as it creates a gap in the expectations between both parties and in that gap lies risk, overrun and failure. Any responses with assumptions which are punitive in your view, should be viewed with caution, this may belie a very contractual and combative engagement which may not allow life to be brought into your CRM.
You get the solution you pay for
Assuming you have narrowed the responses down, it is important then to understand how each respondent treats change. If you outright ask, and you should, expect that most will detail the Prince2 or PMP change control process verbatim. That’s useful to a point as it shows that they have a process to deal with change. However, do they have an appetite or approach that allows flex if necessary? I’ve asked clients after CRM projects are delivered if they got what they expected at the start – the answer is sometimes shockingly “No” – followed by – “you helped us uncover AND deliver the solution we needed”.
So how do you gauge the willingness of a tenderer to change? The answer is nearly always in the response. See if they present any alternatives in their solutions which show that they are cognizant of the fact that it’s hard to prescribe when they haven’t had the opportunity to diagnose. You’ll see solution statements that refer to the discovery workshops which will confirm that they have the correct approach. As an example, a requirement could state that a post-visit write up of a meeting is required and that they should provide a template. A solution response could deliver that form in CRM without an issue, but a game-changing alternative could be to push elements of this requirement to a mobile device for entry before, during or immediately after using an exception driven checklist approach. Who really knows which is “correct” until the client and the consultant engage in the discovery sessions.
The upshot is to allow contingency (who wouldn’t) for the mishaps, but if you can provide the breathing space of a discretionary budget to enable delivery beyond the initial scope, you can look forward to a solution which transforms your business. We are not talking bells and whistles here, each change would need to be justified and considered carefully.