Tech Select Series: The Competitive Bake-off

Welcome to the latest entry in RSG's "Real Story Vendor Procurement" (RSVP) best practice series. Last time we talked about filtering your vendor list down to two finalists. In this segment, we'll review the process of actually having two vendors compete in a live environment for your business.

Building Live Examples from your Test Scenarios

Take the scenarios that you've built and used throughout this process and expand them and tweak them; these will become your script for a competitive bake-off. Though not a full-blown prototype, your team should be able to execute rough facsimiles of tasks and journeys as if you had already licensed the solution.

The Competitive bake-off

Four Key Questions

Here are some common questions we encounter at this stage in the process:

Q: How long should this take? 
Generally, 2- 4 weeks, depending on how critical the project is for you

Q: Should we see with vendors side by side or sequentially?
A: Sequential is better.  For example, one vendor for one week, then a break for a week, and then the second vendor

Q: Whose environment does this run in?
A: Even if you're going to be working with on premise solution, ideally you have the vendor run the bake-off from an instance in the cloud.  You can always test actual installation later, with a single finalist.

Q: Who pays for this? 
A: If it's a short exercise, then the cost can be consider part of the sale by the vendor. If it's more than that, be prepared to pay some sort of fee. TIP: Ask for a fixed price bid for the competitive bake-off phase as part of your RFP process. 

Four Key Milestones

There are four milestones to any bake-off:

1. A kickoff meeting that governs the whole process and ensures everyone's on the same page

2. Initial education workshops to provide a hands-on introduction to the solution, enough to enable you to run through your test cases

3. Daily stand-ups with the vendor to give feedback during what is essentially a sprint-style exercise

4. Final wash-up on the last day with the full team, to give the vendor feedback and clarify any outstanding questions

Final Advice

Remember, this isn't a live, production-quality system that you're asking the vendor and any partners to build; it's more of a trial attempt of what life would be like working with the vendor and their technology. The goal is to understand what the technology wants and doesn't want to do natively, and of course get a feel for the vendor — their culture and the way they work with your team.

Ask yourself:

  • Does that platform feel like a natural fit or are you stretching it to far?
  • Does the vendor fully understand what you're trying to do, or just sell you some tech?

Next Steps

At RSG, this is what we do, we help enterprise companies choose technology. Please contact us for support in making your technology decisions

Check out RSG's hard-hitting vendor evaluations, designed to address the specialized strategic considerations you face.

The next edition of the RSVP selection series will cover Piloting Your Solution. See you next week...

Other Posts in the RSVP Selection Series

Establish Business Foundations

Identify Needs and Opportunities:

Conduct Market Analysis:

Communicate with Suppliers:

Try Before You Buy:

Make the Right Choice

  • Pilot Solution (coming next week)
  • Negotiating Pricing and Contract (coming later)

What's Next 

  • Implementation (coming later)


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