S030 – Establish “Long List”
A list of appropriate vendors to consider is established using simple, non-controversial criteria such as platform, price etc, and using the team’s experience, research etc as appropriate.
Use simple non-controversial criteria to reduce the list of all possible vendors to those where there is no obvious reason why they should be unsuitable. If a Consultant is used their own experience and that of other members of the project team can be used in this process. Also, some simple but vital tests can be performed, such as whether a required environment is supported. Other factors that could be considered would be the platform, price, past performance, industry experience, support, size, location and capabilities of supplier, key known requirements of a “knock out” nature, press information, software guides etc. In some cases it may be possible to refer to software manuals.
PATH PLANNING GUIDANCE
This process is optional. It may be used where there is a large list of potential vendors.
Dependent procedures (Finish-Finish):
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF TASKS
This process is intended to reduce the number of vendors to a manageable size before issuing a formal Invitation to Tender to them. In some cases, it may be found that there is already a reasonable number; if so, it is still normally worthwhile applying the type of checks described in this process to save wasted effort during the full evaluation.
The process should be conducted by the project team using criteria acceptable to the client organisation. Ideally, the criteria would be defined jointly with the organisation’s management team. The client organisation should also review and formally accept the findings and, in particular, the recommended list of vendors. It is very common for the final list to be agreed between the main project sponsor and the project manager.
Note that some organisations may have specific needs regarding how and why vendors are placed on the long list. In some cases no arbitrary decision would be allowed – this is common in the public sector. Also note that the details of the process might become known to the vendors and so it is important that the method should be fair and reasonable (although, generally it is recommended to avoid informing vendors about such processes and decisions if possible so as to avoid unnecessary disputes).
In addition to this process (or alternatively in place of it) it may be appropriate to perform a formal “pre-qualification” stage – see Process S050.
A number of information sources may be consulted. Where there has been a Market Review, External Business Review, or External Technical Review, then the results can be used as the starting point. Where the opportunity was advertised (see S020) the results from that process should be used.
In addition to this initial information (if any) it may be necessary to perform further investigations and analysis of the various options. Further information sources may include:
Consultant’s various international information centres,
the Consultants support desk,
Consultant’s geographical resource centres,
Consultant’s vendor-specific international competence centres,
Consultant publications, e.g. The Consultant Directory of Financial Software,
technical review specialists,
specialist industry-based magazines,
specialist IT Magazines,
on-line and CD-based databases,
contacts in associated organisations or in professional organisations,
Target number of vendors
The purpose of this process is largely to reduce the potential vendors to a manageable number before sending them a formal Invitation to Tender. It takes much time for a vendor to respond to an Invitation to Tender, and it takes much time and effort for the project team to read, analyse and evaluate the response. It is, therefore, important to maintain a good balance between evaluating all reasonable contenders and selecting a good solution in a reasonable amount of time and effort.
The “right” number of vendors to include in the formal Invitation to Tender process will depend on many factors. For a very large requirement where there are likely to be several qualified vendors, then five may be too many. For a small requirement in a field where many vendors have competitive products then it might be possible to evaluate as many as ten or fifteen proposals.
As a rule of thumb, two to four vendors gives an element of choice without undue effort. To achieve such a small “long list” requires good information and knowledge about the business requirements, the marketplace and the merits of the competing vendors.
In some cases, it may be possible to devise a long list which deliberately includes different styles of solution. For example, there may be less value in evaluating the best four solutions, than in evaluating the best two solutions.
Some requirements may be absolute and easy to check, for example:
can the required technical environment be supported,
is the software sold and supported in this country,
can the key business requirements of a “knock out” nature be met?
Other factors are likely to require some initial value judgements to be made by the evaluation team. It is important that these be made in a fair and reasonable manner, preferably based on hard facts or experience of the current version of the software. Where there is an element of doubt regarding an aspect of the potential solution, it should be given the benefit of the doubt at this time – the full detail can be examined during the formal evaluation.
Examples of such criteria might include:
size, location and capabilities of the vendor,
known ability to address key functional requirements,
usability / user friendliness,
reviews in the press, software guides etc.
In some cases it may be possible to refer to software manuals for detailed information about the software.
The “Long List”
There is not normally a detailed report of any nature produced by this process. The findings will be in the form of a list of names of software vendors who will be invited to tender for all or part of the overall business solution.
These findings and the decisions should be agreed by the client organisation which should take full responsibility for the decisions made.