CMS Supplier Dilemma: RFP Schedules

Posted by Barry Bealer on Jul 20, 2015 10:52:00 AM

RFP.jpgAs a supplier of software solutions and publishing automation tools we regularly receive Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposals (RFP).  In many cases there is an aggressive supplier schedule to return questions, then submit a final document.  Some are just ridiculously short periods of time to adequately digest the information and respond appropriately, but we try our best to showcase our knowledge and software capabilities.  After working long hours to address the short turnaround time, one of the following inevitably happens: 

  1. Schedule extended:  Solicitor received too many proposals and will need more time to review them.
  2. Vendor pushback:  Submission period is extended since some suppliers balked at the short timeline and the solicitor wants their bids.
  3. Mismanagement:  Nothing (worst case)

Lets look at each of these situations a bit more closely to get to the root cause of each one.

Scheduled extended – Many times a company has a template driven procurement process.  The procurement department forces the software vendor to adhere to the timeline without regard to complexity of solution or the number vendors being sent the RFP.  If there are only three vendors in a niche marketplace, procurement will still require the business sponsor to send the RFP to ten vendors regardless of their applicability to the actual project.  This happens over and over again when we receive Web Content Management RFPs when our software is classified as an Enterprise Content Management System.  With a little homework, the company looking for a solution can distinguish between the two, but in all fairness, some vendors blur the lines between solutions in their marketing speak to make their solution broader in capability then it truly is.  When the procuring business receives back way more responses than they anticipated, of course they are going to need more time to review each proposal.  Again, sending out an RFP to a large disparate group of software vendors is going to result in a large disparate group of RFP responses which then confuses the entire procurement process which leads to delays.  Think about receiving vendor proposals whose approach is to build from scratch versus vendor proposals that want to use best of breed tool integration versus vendor proposals listing third party systems that only require a little configuration.  Three valid types of responses, but very different RFP responses.  Confusion around solution approaches usually leads to procurement delays.

Vendor pushback – Let’s be honest, many companies have preferred vendors when they send out an RFP.  If those preferred vendors push back on the company because the timelines are just too short to respond, a miracle occurs and the deadline gets extended.  If the vendor is not on the preferred list, most likely the schedule will not be extended and the vendor will submit a basic response just to stay in the game.  Some organizations do however hold tight to the schedule regardless of how ridiculous the timelines for questions and RFP response truly are.  Those are the rules and its my game, so do as I say.  Unfortunately some very good vendors are weeded out when this happens because the procurement department is just too rigid.  There needs to be a give and take between the procuring business and the vendor.  Actually, realistic timelines would be most welcome.

Mismanagement – I could probably write an entire blog post about how poor some companies are with managing the RFP process.  In general, the process does not come second nature to anyone in the business and the procurement department is forcing the process onto the organization because that is their mandate from management.  In addition, many companies really don’t care about timelines after they receive RFP responses.  At that point, they have the information they need and will take whatever time THEY need to review the information and figure out next steps.  It always amazes me that suddenly when the RFP responses are turned in, a black hole appears and no communication comes out of the organization.  Timelines are missed by the procuring company, phone messages are left and follow-up emails are sent by the vendor…silence.  Miraculously communication picks up a month after the deadline to communicate to the vendors and now the procuring company has 100 questions that need to be answered in 48 hours or less.  And did I mention that if the procuring company actually read the RFP, the questions are answered in the text.  You see, most companies read the executive overview, look at the proposed implementation schedule, and obsess on the budget numbers.  The rest of the RPF response to them is filler.

There is no single way to fix the procurement process.  Some companies have a very good procurement process while others seem to do it to appease procurement and therefore really have no interest in following the process unless it is advantageous to them.  Let’s start by having both sides adhere to the timelines set forth in the RFP.  That includes final selection and start of the project.  All any vendor wants is a fair shot at winning the opportunity and having the procuring company live up to their side of the relationship.  

If you want to see why we receive RFPs for publishing automation solutions, register here to see a demo of RSuite®.

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Topics: RSuite, RFP selection, RFP

RSuite and MarkLogic: A Decade of Partnership

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Jul 13, 2015 10:50:39 AM

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RSuite and MarkLogic have been partners for over a decade. Publishers need to deliver more than they ever have in the past. They need to do it faster and they need to reuse content in ways that simple have not been historically possible. One of RSuite’s greatest strengths is enabling the discovery and reuse of content, not only at a document level, but at a very deep, granular level. That’s something that MarkLogic’s native XML support helps to enable. RSuite enables publishers to automate their publishing. RSuite is Publishing Automated.

 

Topics: RSuite Enterprise Edition, MarkLogic, Lisa Bos, #RSuiteUC15

Beware the "Independent" Consultant Who Wants to Build You a Content Management System

Posted by Barry Bealer on Jun 24, 2015 8:12:00 AM

Beware the "Independent" ConsultantIt all seems like the logical next step. Hire the independent consultant who has been analyzing your business requirements for several months to build your next content management system. Who better to lead your organization to the CMS promise land? It doesn’t matter that building software is not their expertise, nor does it matter that they don't actually have a development staff. You like the leader, the onsite business analyst is strong, and you’ve had a great working relationship for a long time. This rosy picture plays out more often than one would think. There is no ill will or deceitful practice, it’s just a natural progression of a business relationship. But over the years we have found many pitfalls with this approach:

  1. Staff it and they will build ...something: If the consultant is truly “independent", they will have no interest in building a software solution. However, if they feel they can build the solution because they are leaving money on the table, they cobble together a development team made up of independent contractors and possibly partner with a small development firm that allows them to act like a general contractor, but none of the project team is an employee. This loosely organized tech team may not have the appropriate skill or bandwidth to complete the project, nor have many of them ever worked together before and they each may have different approaches and methodologies to develop the software.
  2. Analyzing and building are two different things: This is the "no duh" statement but often overlooked.  Just because a consultant can analyze and document business and technical requirements does not mean they have the vision or skill to build a solution that meets requirements. Think architect versus carpenter. Building a custom solution can get very messy very quickly and unless the consultant has the software development discipline (i.e., Agile experience), requirements will go unmet, shortcuts will be taken, and I venture to guess the schedule will be missed.
  3. Where is the “independence”?: Having an independent consultant bring together and lead the development team to build a solution is a lot like asking a lawyer to pick the judge they want for their trial. Of course the lawyer will pick the judge who sides with them more often. The same is true for a consultant who brings in a development team. It’s a biased situation. No one is really creating the checks and balances to hold the development team accountable. If the consultant remained independent, there would be a separation of church and state and a better likelihood that the project would succeed.
The observations above are all situations that we have encountered over the past 15 years since we started RSI Content Solutions. This is not to say that some independent consultants can’t pull off a software development project, but in our experience these projects usually don’t end well. How do we know this? RSI was once the “independent” consultant who one day was asked to build out a CMS. It felt so right, but quickly we learned we needed to operate differently and we did struggle. We eventually got it right, but it was a lesson from over 10 years ago that we still remember. Our suggestion is to make sure you keep your “independent” consultant truly independent and let the software solutions up to the people who do it every day.

Topics: best practices, CMS project, Barry Bealer

DocZone Unveils New User Interface at STC Technical Communication Summit

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Jun 22, 2015 7:55:00 AM

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DocZone, a component content management system for technical publications, unveiled their new user interface at booth 316 the STC Technical Communication Summit in Columbus, OH. This latest version of DocZone provides an entirely new user experience through an intuitive user interface that minimizes actions required to store, search, tag and reuse content while allowing users to quickly and efficiently publish their technical documents to multiple formats and languages.

“DocZone has been a trusted industry leader for over 10 years,” stated Marty Wetzel, Director, Global Account Management at RSI Content Solutions, the makers of DocZone. “This new interface gives DocZone a fresh and modern look that I’m sure our clients and prospects will appreciate.”

“We chose the STC Technical Communication Summit as our launching pad for the new interface because we see this conference as one of the marquee events in the technical publishing space,” continued Wetzel.  “We are excited for the opportunity to demo DocZone at the conference and expect a great turnout at the event.”

For fifteen years, RSI Content Solutions has been a trusted content management solutions provider for both traditional and technical publishers alike. Learn how organizations with technical publishing needs like Citrix, Epson, ITT, Cummins, Kyocera, and many others use DocZone at www.doczone.com.  

Topics: DocZone, #stc15, STC, Society for Technical Communication

RSuite Sponsors MarkLogic World NY | Free Registration!

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Jun 16, 2015 9:30:48 AM

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Topics: RSuite, MLW2015

See the NEW DocZone UI at STC | June 22-24

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Jun 12, 2015 8:55:15 AM

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Topics: DocZone, #stc15, STC, Society for Technical Communication

User Conference | Familiar Faces

Posted by Lisa Bos on May 5, 2015 10:19:02 AM

Karen McLean, IEEE, Publishing Technologies
Ken Rawson, IEEE, Publishing Technologies

The 2015 RSuite User Conference is off and running!

Welcome to all and thank you again to our customers who are attending and speaking this week. I can't wait to hear from The World Bank, HarperCollins, and Human Kinetics, and, of course, from our friend Matt Turner of MarkLogic.

Also, a special thank you to our sponsors:

  • MarkLogic
  • Access Innovations
  • EContent
  • Temis

The RSuite User Conference is one of my favorite annual events. One big reason is the opportunity to see colleagues, customers, and partners from around the globe.

Here are a few familiar faces from our day 1 breakfast reception.

 

Robert Smilowitz, RSI Content Solutions

Kristen Humphrey, Artlin Consulting, LLC

Michael Fishkow, RSI Content Solutions
Steven Calderwood, Human Kinetics

Paul Mastorides, AIP Publishing

David King, Thomson Reuters
Raghuram Ponnaganti, Thomson Reuters

Katelyn Gorbey, RSI Content Solutions
Sarah Silveri, RSI Content Solutions

Debbie Eicholtz, HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Paul Eisenberg, RSI Content Solutions

 

Topics: #RSuiteUC15

RSuite User Conference | MarkLogic Keynote

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Apr 29, 2015 3:24:00 PM

Change is in the air and publishers are taking new approaches to creating products, finding new ways to reach customers and, behind it all, adopting new ways to think about and manage data.

Register for the RSuite User Conference now.

Closing RSuite User Conference keynote speaker, Matt Turner, CTO of Media and Publishing at MarkLogic, will share his experiences working with publishers tackling the tough problems facing publishers and information providers when he presents "Revolution Across the Information Industries".  Innovation, adding context to applications and working with data to capture the big picture are all on the menu and it all adds up to an important moment in publishing and a real revolution in the information industries!


Register for the RSuite User Conference now. As a reminder, only 3 spots remain for RSuite User Conference Tech Day which will provide attendees with a look under the covers at the technologies used to create RSuite solutions along with insights and information needed for clients to understand what's possible and begin to take ownership for development of their system by beginning to develop enhancements and extensions internally on their own.


 

Topics: MarkLogic, #RSuiteUC15, #Keynote

RSuite User Conference | Two Weeks Away!

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Apr 24, 2015 10:41:00 AM

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Can you believe it? There's less than two weeks remaining until this year's RSuite User Conference on Tuesday, May 5th (Cinco de Mayo)! Are you registered?!

If so, you'll attend three RSuite client case studies:

  • The World Bank. This case study highlights one of RSuite's newest clients who has been in production using RSuite for just under a year.
  • HarperCollins Publishers: This case study highlights HarperCollins Publishers who has been in production using RSuite for over a year.
  • Human Kinetics: This case study highlights Human Kinetics who who has been in production using RSuite for over three years.

You'll also have the chance to attend breakout sessions such as:

  • Product Management Fireside chat
  • Dashboard and Reporting
  • DITA features

Learn more about the future of RSuite, client case studies, and product demonstrations on the RSuite User Conference registration page. Also, in addition to the user conference, Wednesday, May 6th will be reserved as a technical training day.


RSuite CMS is powered by 
RSuite CMS is powered by MarkLogic

Topics: HarperCollins Publishers, #RSuiteUC15, Human Kinetics, The World Bank

RSuite User Conference | Official Agenda Announced!

Posted by Sarah Silveri on Apr 16, 2015 12:04:00 PM

Register now!

2015 #RSuiteUC Sponsors

RSI is pleased to announce the official agenda for this year's RSuite User Conference on Tuesday, May 5th (Cinco de Mayo!). On May 5th, you'll attend three RSuite client case studies:

  • New client: Highlighting a client who has been in production using RSuite between 6 and 12 months.
  • In-Production client:  Highlighting a client who has been in production using RSuite for over a year.
  • Long-time client: Highlighting a client who has been in production using RSuite for over three years.

You'll also have the chance to attend breakout sessions such as:

  • Product Management Fireside chat
  • Dashboard and Reporting
  • DITA features

Learn more about the future of RSuite, client case studies, and product demonstrations on the RSuite User Conference registration page. In addition to the user conference, Wednesday, May 6th will be reserved as a technical training day and only 5 spots remain! 

A huge thank you to our sponsors, MarkLogic, Access Innovations, Inc., TEMIS, and EContent.


RSuite CMS is powered by 
RSuite CMS is powered by MarkLogic

Topics: RSuite User Conference 2015, Agenda Announcement