How are decisions made on what to buy? When we as individuals decide that we are deficient of something, do we do a thorough analysis of our needs and a full market survey, or do we step out with a vague idea and allow products to be sold to us? All sorts of selling techniques would be redundant if we were completely disciplined, so for many products the act of need analysis and market survey is blurred, and this has become the science of shopping. Yet far too often when we buy products in a haphazard way they ultimately fail to deliver in some way, shape, or form. Rarely is everyone who uses the item happy with it – we usually find we have differing experiences based on how we use the item. It’s then a case of weighing up how long we have to live with these deficiencies, until we have the funds to justify replacing the product.
When procuring on behalf of an organisation, it’s clear a better process needs to be applied to avoid these post-purchase blues. Start with understanding the need – or requirement – of the item being purchased. Assess the performance of any existing products to be compared against this need and highlight the differences between similar products. This allows existing products to be adapted to improve their performance against a requirement. And in the situation where no such product currently exists, it provides an aiming point for design, allowing it to be made precisely to the requirement.
So, who is best placed to know what the product’s requirements are? Your first point of call should be those who will be using the product. This means your requirements process must be written in a language they can understand, and in a way that does not preclude any solution that must be suitable – it has to be solution agnostic.
With your users ready to go, start by getting them to think about what they are unable to do without the product – identifying the gap which the product should fill. They should then think about the attributes they would want of the system without imposing unnecessary constraints that could result in only the ‘obvious’ solution meeting them. Sounding fairly simple so far?
Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. Not all users will agree wholeheartedly – you’re left in need of a process by which consensus can be reached. And when the group is geographically dispersed and the only tools to hand are e-mails and spreadsheets it can become difficult to manage – maintaining a single point of truth and encouraging debate become almost impossible. What is missing is the ability to collaborate in an easy and controlled manner.
Step forward Commerce Decisions’ new Requirements Tool, specifically designed to remove the barriers from effective user requirement capture, delivering the following benefits:
- Stakeholders are directed consistently to a single version of the truth
- Geographically-dispersed, busy stakeholders are able to collaborate quickly and efficiently
- The Requirements Manager is able to focus and control activity
- The team is supported in reaching a consensus view of the wording and variables in requirements
- Evidence is developed as stakeholders are encouraged to include rationale in comments rather than simply stating a desire
- Easy access to information is offered ‘on a plate’, ensuring individuals are able to maximise best use of their time
- A coherent, up to date record of the requirements document and matrix is maintained and protected
The Requirements Development tool forms part of the AWARD® SCD module and is available to any existing users of the SCD module.
AWARD® is a collaborative web-based solution designed specifically to support complex and strategic procurement projects. It reduces time to contract, improves value for money, and reduces the risk of complex procurements, whilst delivering intuitive and robust assessments with a strong audit trail across a diverse range of applications.< Back