Coping with Scoping
It’s all in the scope
Recently I was phoned by an organisation to provide a proposal. They mentioned 4-5 key challenges for the business, all of which required a different body of work to address. Shortly after I submitted the proposal they asked me to come in and present one of the options to the executive group. I was delighted to have the opportunity. Our team spent a week developing a prototype solution and presentation and we believed we had built a solution that would be high yield for the client.
On the day of the presentation I went to the organisations premises and set up. As I started the presentation one of the executive group almost immediately interrupted and stated that they wanted a presentation on a different option. The rest of the presentation time was spent attempting to build a scope on a completely different body of work to what had been described before.
That evening I was contemplating the situation and decided that I would rather not work with that organisation until they had really defined the problem they were trying to solve. I believe that they would have continued to move the goal posts throughout any work that may have eventuated, which makes quality output highly unlikely. I phoned them in the morning and advised them we would require a full scope prior to any further proposals. They were surprisingly miffed.
And so, as we come in to tender season I felt compelled to write about the importance of an accurate and complete brief and scope. Even the best consultant or company will fail if the confines of the body of work, and critically the key deliverables, are not fully defined at the start of the project. There will be wasted time, wasted money and ultimately compromised outcomes.
It can feel a bit overwhelming to build a scope, and many organisations shy away from the task. However, through implementing the following steps you stand the best chance of ensuring your investment pays dividends.
1. Define the Problem or Challenge
No one is going to be able to solve a problem which is not defined. In the example at the start of this blog, the organisation thought that they had defined the problem – it hurt. The pain, however, is a symptom not the problem. You need to drill into the root cause of the symptom you are trying to reduce or eradicate. The more specific the problem definition, the more creative tenderers can be in solving it.
2. Define the Key Deliverables
Clearly define and articulate the minimum key deliverables from the project. This then tells the tenderer what the minimum requirement is, and provides an opportunity for them to creatively add value in their tender beyond the minimum. This will also assist in ensuring you only have experts tender. If a company reads the minimum key deliverables and has no experience in it, or knows that it’s not their strong suit they are less likely to put the time and money into producing a tender – and subsequently wasting your time.
3. Set the Timeline
So often organisations ask the tenderer to define the timeline for the project. However, more often than not the organisation has a fixed deadline for the works to be complete. Further, the timeline will have a material effect on the crafting of the solution. Through providing a specific timeline – beyond a ‘to be delivered ASAP’ – you are enabling the tenderers to provide a meaningful proposal to your organisation.
4. Disclose Your Budget
I know this is a sensitive one, however the nature of market pressures in the current environment is that price is unlikely to be significantly different between suppliers. Often, we encounter organisations who seem to believe that in disclosing their budget they will miss out on a lower deal, or will encourage suppliers to meaninglessly expend the full budget. I have two points here.
a) By disclosing your budget, you are enabling a tenderer to formulate a solution that you can afford, whilst ensuring that your key deliverables are met.
b) If you are concerned about expending your full budget you probably need to revisit your budgeting practices, and your method for assessing value within the tender process itself.
5. Focus on Value
What is it that your organisation stands to gain through this body of work? This should tell you how much you should reasonably pay for the solution. The key differentiator between tenderer’s is likely to be value adds rather than raw cost. Through focusing on the net value exchange of the body of work you will be more open to different methodologies, and more equipped to negotiate with tenderers to ensure a successful project.
As a final point, the market is hot and there is more and more quality talent within the marketplace. Make sure you capitalise on these market conditions by allowing tenderers the opportunity to best articulate how they can help you, and how we all can ensure the highest quality is delivered in the coming months’.