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Top six tips for briefing suppliers on digital transformation projects

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Have you ever been disappointed when reviewing proposals sent by potential suppliers in the past? Do you want a higher quality, clearer and more realistic response?

Having reviewed hundreds of briefs over the years, I thought I'd share some tips to help improve the quality of your brief and get better supplier feedback.

If you’re about to embark on a business transformation project – whether it is a new website, automation tool or business intelligence platform – you’re likely to create a technical briefing document that can be shared with potential suppliers.

Before you send this document, you’ll have already done a huge amount of research. The scale and volume of this initial discovery can often be challenging in itself.

Laptop and phone

In a 2019 Gartner Buyer Survey, it was revealed that 50% of B2B buyers found the amount of trustworthy information they received overwhelming.

This makes the procurement process increasingly difficult, it being trickier to find those key points of difference between technologies and potential suppliers.

How you communicate is vital

It’s critical to think about how you communicate and brief organisations throughout the selection process – particularly in the current climate. Often, virtual meetings don’t offer the same insights and feelings that you get when engaging with companies face to face. So, it puts even more emphasis on your brief.

  1. Consider limiting technology choices. It’s best to research and validate your preferred tech prior to sending out a brief. This could be done independently or internally if resources allow. Giving suppliers clear guidance and direction makes it much easier to compare like-for-like solutions. This avoids a complicated selection process with a vast range of options and wildly different price points.
  2. Think about how you’d like to work together. Not all organisations are set up to work in a truly agile way. Transparency about your project team, the time you can dedicate to the task in hand, and where you’re going to need to support and why are all helpful things to include in a brief. In the long term, this will make the collaboration more seamless and time-efficient.
  3. Describe the culture of the organisation and your values. There are many great suppliers across the country – all with incredibly talented teams – and you’ll find that a lot of them will be more than capable of doing the work. However, it is often the culture, personality and values of a business that resonate and set suppliers apart. Therefore, it’s important to spend some time thinking about how use these elements as part of the scoring criteria during the shortlisting process.
  4. Provide a budget or range to help companies qualify the opportunity ‘in’ or ‘out’ depending on how they’re set up and whether they can work within the parameters you’ve given. Budgets help you ensure consistency in the solutions. Don’t weight this too heavily in the scoring though, as some suppliers will low-ball their estimates just to get a higher percentage.
  5. Make time to engage with suppliers when they’re writing their responses. Those who ask insightful questions and are eager to interact will give you better proposals. It also gives you an opportunity to talk, build relationships and get a better understanding of how they work.
  6. Provide as much detail as you can around the expected challenges. Based on your knowledge of the organisation, the project and the people, think about the risks associated with this project. You want suppliers to be able to demonstrate how they’ve helped others with similar concerns. On projects of this nature, things can – and do – go wrong, so you’ll need to have confidence that your supplier has the right experience to overcome any potential hurdles.

These are just some of the highlights – there are many more you could add to this list – but if you’d like to find out more about how we work and our ethos here at CDS, get in touch with our friendly team!