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Killer RFP Step #4: Current digital commerce solution evaluation

January 3, 2018Walter Bloch, PMP PSPO PSM

This step will feel very natural for most companies. It is time to do a current digital commerce solution evaluation. You will use the standard practice of asking what is working and what is not. Three things will happen: you are going to start to use our previous research, you are going to ask your stakeholders to begin to form stronger opinions, and you are going to spend much more time collecting and organizing information.

Start the current digital commerce solution evaluation

You already started this effort when you identified and interviewed your key stakeholders.  During that process, you asked them these three questions:

  • What works well on the platform?
  • What does not work well?
  • What do we need?

First, you need to organize the information you previously gathered. Organize the data into the three buckets: Works Well, Does Not Work and Needed.  Gather the answers together separated by each stakeholder.

Next, do three things:

  • Schedule a meeting with each stakeholder
  • Send them the synopsis of your previous discussion
  • Send them the goals and objectives

Pro Tip: Share a document with your users before the meeting. Asking people to react to something you show them, often moves conversations more quickly and is much more comfortable for them.

Meet with each stakeholder

As you meet with each stakeholder, share first with them the goals and objectives.  Let them know that these are intended to be the endpoints that the company wants to achieve with this project. Next, tell them you want to review the answers from the previous meeting.

Then ask them these three simple questions:

  • What would you change, add or remove given the goals and objectives of this project?
  • Of all the things we talked about, which ones are key to achieving the goals and objectives?
  • Which of the items are less important?

These questions change the perspective of the stakeholder, as we are now asking them to form opinions regarding their previous response. We are also giving them the opportunity to improve the answers and align them with the goals and objectives.

As the last part of the interview, you should ask your stakeholders to begin to envision the new solution.  Ask them to review their list of things that don’t work well and things they need. Ask them for each item on the list, to describe how this can be solved in a new platform.

Organize stakeholder feedback

Now is the time to bring your organizational and detail skills into play.  First, create a master spreadsheet and log all of the information, including who it came from, and their importance thoughts. With everything in one place review all of the information and start to create a few broad categories.  I often begin with the following categories, adding more as they become appropriate:

  • Product Setup
  • Pricing
  • Inventory
  • Product Browsing
  • Shopping Cart
  • Checkout
  • Order Processing
  • Order Management
  • Content and Promotions
  • System Integrations

Using this list, or your list, organize all of the items from the stakeholders into the categories.  Then begin to clean up the list by eliminating duplicates and bringing together related items.

Develop your first digital commerce features

Once you have a combined list, you are ready to start to form them into features. Features are definitions of things we want the new digital commerce platform to do. Let’s understand what a feature is:

Feature: Forward-looking statement that describes a desired state or capability of the digital solution.

Features are often vague and are not readily measurable.  Think of them as more of a wish list.

Your list has things people like and things that they do not like.  To change them into features you want to change everything to a forward-looking phrase.  To do this, take each answer they provided when you asked them to envision how it might be solved, and re-write it into features.  If you do not have specifics, then use more declarative statements.

Here are a few examples of re-writing stakeholder answers as features:

  • (Works Well) We can enter all the product details in one place.
    • Keep the ability to enter all the product details on one screen.
  • (Works Well ) Ability to have $ off and % off promo codes.
    • Allow $ off promo codes.
    • Allow % off promo codes.
  • (Not Well) Too difficult to enter prices.
    • Create a streamlined way to enter prices for the multiple pricing tiers.
  • (Not Well) Changing the homepage content takes too many people
    • Allow a two-step content edit and publish workflow.
  • (Need) Need to schedule homepage content updates.
    • Allow homepage content publisher to specify the date and time content will be published

Current digital commerce solution evaluation results

After you have organized the information and you are confident that it is representative of what the stakeholders reported, then it is time to share it.  Schedule one or more meetings with your key stakeholders to get their feedback and reactions to the first list of features.

Ask your stakeholders if they feel that this list is 78% accurate in regards to what we need in a new digital commerce platform.  When they answer “yes,” then you are ready to continue to the next step.

Protip:  asking someone to agree that something is 78% accurate is more comfortable than asking them if it is correct.  Since you are at the beginning of the project, you have a lot of time to get to a perfect answer, for know, you want it to be 78% right.

Would you like to know more?  Please refer back to the Luminos Labs blog in the coming months for more details on steps 5 – 13 of writing a killer RFP.

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