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Apsiz Services Ltd
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Introducing the Apsiz Bid Team

Apsiz have recently launched a new web site showcasing the work of the Apsiz Bid Team.  Our bid team consists of four very experienced bid consultants, who have both public sector experience and private sector, across many different industries. 

View our case studies, detailing the results of bid writing, bid management and submission work, recently completed for our clients.

The new web site details all of the services that the Apsiz Bid Team provide, from bid and tender writing, bid management, bid consultancy to our complete outsourcing service.

You will also find information about growing your business through winning new customers using the bid process and if you need help and support, our team are just a phone call away.

Vis it the Bid Team web site at: http://www.apsiz-bid-team.co.uk/

#bidwriting   #bidmanagement   #tendersubmission  

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How to Buy Enterprise Software part 3

Stage 6: Final Evaluation and Selection

So we've got to the stage where you've looked at the alternative products, selected the technically viable and understood and negotiated the commercials. You've got to select down to the final supplier. Doing that means balancing the technical attributes of the software, the cost and commercials surrounding the software and the cost of the implementation to get to the most effective solution. We would argue that this is best done in the classic procurement manner, by evaluating each against agreed weighted criteria. These should have been agreed early in the process but they should have been kept up to date through the process to make sure you take into account all the available information.

Stage 7: Get the licences right......

Making sure that the selected licences are the right licences for the business is a vital step in both driving out the business value and protecting the organisation for future problems. Let's start with what we mean by driving out the business value. We would argue that driving the business value requires that the licences that are selected maximise the flexibility in deployment and makes sure that the functionality you think you have bought can be accessed. We'd also argue that the licences should be bought in a way that links the deployment to payment ensuring that the business doesn't pay for licences it doesn't need.

With protecting the organisation, we mean that many vendors see audits as an income stream. That means that you should aim to be licensed correctly. However, many organisations will view this in an overly safe fashion and will buy too many licences and greater functionality that necessary to make sure they are safe. Taking time to get the licensing right reduces the need for this, minimising costs to the business. I've done this many times and have found that major cost savings can be achieved.

Stage 8: Remember the contract

Contract management can save millions of pounds on enterprise software. Managing to the contract is a key retainer of value if done correctly. I've worked on a number of instances where going back to the contract has been vital is driving value. In one case, an organisation was working with was being aggressively pursued by a major vendor for settlement on an audit. The total settlement we eventually reached was zero. The reason for that was that the contract was set up in such a way that the claims weren't legitimate.

In another, a major supplier was arguing that they had the right to take away the unused licence grant after a period of time. That's not what the contract said. The contract said that the supplier was entitled to receive a report on what had been used in the period, and any overuse would be corrected, not that any unused licences would be revoked. We kept the licences and deployed them 6 months later. The result was a further saving of millions.

Conclusion

Buying enterprise software is tricky but by using a structured and sensible process, you can increase the business value and reduce your costs. The structured process helps ensure that the software delivers the right functionality and the price point is appropriate. That in turn drives a better project and stronger delivery as well as the immediate cost savings.

Further support and information

If you'd like to know more about Apsiz Services and how we help can help your organisation buy software better or how we help organisations change their procurement functions, visit our website http://www.apsiz.co.uk/ or email us at enquiries@apsiz.co.uk. 

Author: Craig Lorne Principal Consultant at Apsiz Services
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/craiglorne?trk=mp-ph-pn

     #evaluation   #contracts     #enterprisesoftware  

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How to Buy Enterprise Software part 2

Stage 5: Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

OK, so you've got to a situation where you have multiple solutions in trial. Now is the time to start your negotiations. The price of enterprise software is, under all reasonable circumstances, negotiable. More than that, the price will vary substantially between circumstances where the vendor thinks it has won and where there is real competition.

The result of negotiating price whilst competing technology is vitally important. The results can be measured in millions of pounds. That means that you need to keep your communications to vendors neutral, giving them as little indication as possible as to where they stand in the technical evaluation. Of course, as time goes on, it becomes may become advantageous to share some of that information, particularly where the technologies are very closely matched and the price will be determining factor.

Of course, you also need to consider 'soft' value as part of the package. Expecting a vendor to go from a hard bargaining situation to a partnership in an instant is probably an unrealistic expectation so you have to think wider about what you value.

One thing that is too often overlooked is the total cost of the package or TCO with the only focus being on the initial price. I experienced this very recently when a company I was working planned to evaluate price over one year. I pointed out that the software would be in place for years so they should look at the price of the support as well to create the TCO.

Evaluating the TCO can also create another advantage in some circumstances. Some vendors incentivise their sales teams on the initial purchase price. If that's the case (and you can usually find this out), you can align your interests with the sales person by negotiating reduced support costs for an increase in the initial fee. The result is a happy sales person with a bigger bonus and a happy customer with a lower TCO.

Stage 5a:Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Yes, the title on this section is the same as the above but let's move beyond the price. Price (or TCO if we're being correct) isn't the only variable in the room

The contract and licence agreement is also a key variable. Each term in an agreement is potentially negotiable so understand the implications of the contract and the issues it places on you. Making sure you what you're signing up to and negotiating out killer issues will save considerable money in the long run. As an example, making sure that you have the right name on your licences can save you money. I helped one organisation with just this sort of problem who had licenced the software in the name of a part of the organisation. When the organisation was reorganised, the department nominally disappeared (although in reality, it remained as it always had but with a new name on the door) and persuading the vendor that the organisation still had the licences for reuse wasn't easy.

I'll conclude the series next week with parts 6 to 8.

Further support and information

If you'd like to know more about Apsiz Services and how we help can help your organisation buy software better or how we help organisations change their procurement functions, visit our website http://www.apsiz.co.uk/, email us at enquiries@apsiz.co.uk or call us on 0800 917 7884 . You can sign up for regular mailings similar to this at http://www.apsiz.co.uk/contact-us/

#enterprisesoftware   #negotiate  

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How to Buy Enterprise Software - Part 1

Enterprise software rightly has the reputation of being one of the most difficult categories of spend to manage. The requirements can be complex, the suppliers are monoliths, the sales professionals are highly trained and the buyers often have to do it as part of a broader role. So how can you get more value for your organisation when buying enterprise software?

Stage 1: Check the need is real

One of the most common issues in buying software is there's not a real need; the buying is a consequence of a welI-executed demo or someone following a trend. The consequence is a lack of requirements and an inability either sensibly compete or contract for the software. Establishing a firm set of real requirements helps eliminate those whims but also helps drive competition.

Stage 2: Do we actually need to buy?

The difficulty in asset managing software often results in requests to purchase that are unnecessary. Often, you can find that you already have access to very similar functionality and have licences that are either shelfware or can be harvested and reused. One organisation I worked in had licences to Cognos, Business Objects, Microsoft SSAS and Qlikview. All pretty similar functionalities and none were used to full licence capacity. Any request for BI software was met with a 'here's four; take your pick but we're not buying anything else'.

There is also a question of whether new software should be introduced or whether the current platforms are right. Mostly, extending current platforms is simpler and more cost effective. New software means new skills required, extensive testing, roll-out planning and the like. Buying new licences to your existing platforms is probably the right thing to do if the must have requirements can be met; introducing new platforms should be saved for those times when the must haves can't be delivered by what you have.

Stage 3: Setting your requirement

So, you've got a need and you can't service the need from what you already have. You need to buy something. Standard procurement practice kicks in that this point. You've got your functional requirements and you know who is going to use it. The usual processes of RFI, RFP and RFQ follow.. What is surprising is how often this approach doesn't happen, or at least doesn't happen in the right way.

What I mean by this is that the requirements and their relative importance are yours and not the vendors. The vendor is incentivised to upsell your requirements and create ones that you never knew you had. That helps the vendor in two ways; it pushes you towards a higher level of functionality and consequently greater costs, and helps create a local monopoly position for them by making sure their USP is part of your requirement. Your requirements need to stay yours.

Equally, you need to make sure that your requirements are truly necessary. Huge lists of must haves will reduce your ability to find the right products and create issues in testing the features. Every must have needs to be tested and proven to work for you. So is it really a must? The same goes for the other parts of the MoSCoW model, where each feature needs a test and a way of weighting the ability of a solution to meet it.

One way you can consider reducing the workload and increasing the effectiveness is to look at outcome based specification. A lot of enterprise software is bought to affect business process change so why not look at this from the aspect of the outcomes you're trying to get to? Specifying a need to reduce the process time by 50% expresses your need more succinctly and accurately than a long feature list.

Stage 4: Shortlist your vendors

Establishing your shortlist of vendors is an easier step than in the past; the Internet and trusted advisors are your friends. You should be able to weed out vendors who can't meet your musts fairly quick as well as understanding whether the software fits with your existing platform. Approach the vendors that fit the bill with the aim of getting down to a shortlist of no more than six potential suppliers by sending the RFI. Once you've confirmed back your happiness with the vendor's response to the RFI, you should test the software against your requirements, your data (if possible) and your ways of working. That gets you to the final shortlist.

I'll be following this up later with the remainder of the process.

Further support and information

If you'd like to know more about Apsiz Services and how we help can help your organisation buy software better or how we help organisations change their procurement functions, visit our website http://www.apsiz.co.uk/, email us at enquiries@apsiz.co.uk or call us on 0800 917 7884 . You can sign up for regular mailings similar to this at http://www.apsiz.co.uk/contact-us/

#enterprisesoftware   #categorymanagement   #spendmanagement  

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