Choosing a BI Supplier is like an arranged marriage.
“What the...?” you may be thinking, but as someone who has been involved in the process of mapping out requirements, conducting presentations, ensuring both parties work together and also on the receiving end of rejection as well as being involved in the the actual BI Supplier process, I feel appropriately positioned to wax lyrical on this, and in the following will show you the somewhat scary similarities.
If we consider the typical steps of a tender process:
Choosing a BI Supplier (BI):
A business has identified the need that they require specialist BI services. This need may be as a result of a business investing in a suite of BI tools and wanting to ensure that their choice of partner will bring suitable technical and functional skills ensuring a world-class solution. Or, businesses wanting to gain a competitive edge by moving from “traditional BI” to data visualisations, predictive modelling and sentiment analysis.
Arranged Marriage (AM):
Parents have identified the need that their child requires a spouse. (This need is as a result that they have hit “marriageable age”. Variations exist on determination of this figure and the algorithm is far too complicated to be covered by this blog, needless to say Asian parents seem to automatically acquire the knowledge to work it out)
A business will work to develop a specification to ensure their BI demands are fully covered.
Parents will work to ensure their child has a bath at least.
A business will declare the intention to procure services for a specified period relating to the delivery of BI.
Parents declare the intention to secure a partner for life for their child who as mentioned above has hit the milestone of marriageable age. (i.e. of legal age and therefore able to be married off and ASAP)
This process can be achieved in several ways with businesses issuing PQQs, ITTs or RFPs. These can take the form of responding to an initial set of standard questions requesting information on qualifications and financial standings.
The Asian Parent grapevine and the infamous Marriage Bureaus who will distribute their version of tender documentation (i.e. Biographical summaries of their child including qualifications and financial standings!)
The applicants to the RFP will attempt to demonstrate that they have understood the requirements as detailed in the bid documentation and reply with their suggestions in order to impress the choosing party.
The choosing party will begin to shortlist against a pre-determined scoring system
Parents will begin to shortlist against a pre-determined scoring system
Chosen suppliers will be invited to present.
Chaperoned meetings are arranged.
Part of the evaluation phase is for the BI Supplier (or suitors) to meet their prospective client and the following examples are purely anecdotal and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental!
The BI Supplier turns up with an aggressive pitch which completely misses the point and with their own agenda attempts to tell the business what they think they really want.
A prospective groom met his potential wife in neutral location and was shown into a room where they could “chat”. He opened the door and uttered the syllable “Hel....” before being cut-off mid-flow as the suitor let loose with a barrage of information. The poor chap was only able to inform his “intended” that as a past-time, he would take the dog for long walks. Her response: “Well, I don’t like dogs so that’ll be put down straight away.” Err.....TAXI!
Verdict: An emphatic “No”.
The BI Supplier, although having made the shortlist is not actually skilled in the required functional or technical areas, a case of a salesman not talking to his colleagues.
A (different) prospective groom is shown into a (different) room and conversations are progressing well until it comes to the discussion of qualifications:
Groom: “I understand you work in a Solicitor’s office?”
Suitor: “Oh yes, but I’m much more important than that”
Groom: <Thinking> “Wow, maybe she is a Barrister!”
Groom: “Oh, ok, care to elaborate?”
Suitor: “Yes, I am a receptionist”
Groom: “Sorry, run that by me again? I thought you said you were more important than a solicitor?”
Suitor: “I am, I control the front-office and look after the meetings”
BI: A BI Supplier has done their homework, fully understood the “ask” and their belief that the relationship will work is based not purely on monetary aspirations but that the relationship would be benefit both parties concerned. (Not exactly love at first sight – but close!)
AM: Couple meets, hit it off and are prepared to take the next major leaps of faith.
BI & AM: Marriage made in heaven…..that’s far too clichéd, however, there is a trusting and fulfilling relationship that both parties are equally benefiting from. (With only the occasional time of being kicked into the spare bedroom!)