Killer RFP Step #1 – Getting to the digital commerce rebuild why
The very first questions to ask before rebuilding your online store and digital commerce platform is: Why are we doing this? And more importantly, why now? Is this the best time? Companies often do not stop to ask these essential questions and avoiding this issue is one of the big rebuild traps. Organizations need to know that the time and effort they are about to expend is worth it.
Know the Who behind the Why
To start out ask the simple question, who are the people that are sponsoring the rebuild of the website at this time? Ask this same question from everyone that knows about the project and build a list of names. With this list of people in hand, you will begin to understand who supports the site and why.
Schedule time with each of your potential supporters and ask them the following simple questions:
- I understand you support the website rebuild, is that correct?
- Why do you support the website rebuild?
- Why do you think this is the best time to rebuild the website?
- What will be the impact on the company if we do the rebuild now?
- What will be the impact on the company if we do not do the rebuild now?
- If you could identify one person as the sponsor for the rebuild, who would that be?
These simple six questions provide you with a wealth of understanding about the importance of doing this project and its importance to the company.
Protip: during this interview, do not try to guide the conversation, this is your time to listen. Be attentive, listen and take notes. If you start to predict what they will say, you often sway the conversation and do not get an accurate view. Actively listening during these interviews will provide you with great insight into their thoughts.
Find the website rebuild why
After completing the interviews, bring together all of the information you found for each question. Particularly review the answers to questions 3 – 5 to start to uncover the why and the why now answers. In reviewing this, you will start to see patterns and common answers.
Warning: If you do not see common answers and are not seeing valid reasons, then this may not be the right time for this project. If you determine this, then you need to report this back to your leadership team.
As you look to the answer the questions of why are we rebuilding our website, these are some of the most common answers you are likely to find:
- Our current platform is difficult to support
- We can’t do the things we want with our current platform
- Our customers don’t like the website
- It takes too much work to manage
- Our competitors are killing us with online store sales
And as you try to answer the question, why now these are some of the things you are going to see:
- Our customers want to purchase more online, and our site can’t support it
- We need to reduce the amount of time needed to support the website
- We need to have more capability on the online store
- The online store is a key component in our marketing and sales efforts
- We need to keep up (or ahead) of our competitors
Once you review and consolidate your list, pull together between 1-5 reasons why and 1-5 reasons why now. Then go back and meet with the same team of people and see if they all agree with the list. After a round or two, you will have a good foundation on the why of the project.
Identify your project sponsor
Now is the time to find the best sponsor for the project. You want a sponsor who will go to management and drive support, funding, and resourcing for the effort as it moves forward. In reviewing the answers to question number 6, you can identify your project sponsor.
Once you have a potential sponsor or two, meet with them and ask if they would be willing to be the sponsor for this project as it moves forward. With a sponsor identified and agreed to, you will have the support you need as you continue to create your killer RFP.
Validate executive support
Many smart professionals would stop here, but there is one more critical step in the process: Identifying an executive sponsor. Without executive support, you will likely not have funding or resources to continue. Get together with your project sponsor and meet with the appropriate executives at your company. Present your findings on why it is necessary to do this project and why now.
Now it is also your opportunity to ask executives what the priority of this project is, compared with other capital expenditure projects. Ask them to help you and the sponsor understand how they prioritize this with the other major corporate projects.
Carry on with your Killer RFP
Now that you know the website rebuild why, understand why we are doing it now, have identified your project sponsor and gotten support from the executive team, you are ready to continue building a Killer RFP. With the answer to the website rebuild why it is time for step #2: Identify eCommerce website rebuild stakeholders.
Would you like to know more? Please refer back to the Luminos Labs blog in the coming months for more details on steps 2 – 13 of writing a killer RFP.