Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A New Methodology for Procurement

Over the years I have been involved with a number of major procurements. This ranges from selecting a new reservation platform for an escorted tour operator to a major end-to-end acquisition for the U.S. Federal government travel. While at Sun Microsystems in the early 1990s I received my certification in purchasing from the Institute for Supply Management.
Over the years I have been amazed on how the traditional RFP process can be bogged down with overly complex RFPs with open ended questions which yield volumes of marketing spin, rather than true vendor capabilities. I believe there is a better way.
I am currently working with a major resort on an acquisition of a new central reservation system. After reviewing their 900+ RFP (created by another consultant a few years ago), I decided a more effective acquisition strategy was needed. The path we've followed, required my client to narrow down a list of (25) Mandatory Requirements. I then conducted interviews with a number of suppliers using the Mandatory Requirements as a guideline. If the supplier did not meet any of the requirements, they were eliminated. The selection team then used Web conferencing technology to view demos from the qualified vendors, and rated each based on their software application's functionality. A scorecard was used to translate each team member's qualitative evaluation into a quantitative rating, thus forcing a ranking of the remaining suppliers. Our next step will be to further narrow down the selection to a 3-4 short list of vendors. Each vendor will then be invited back for a multi-hour live demonstration controlled by test scripts which force the vendor to show their product's key functionality. The end result of this procurement process is a deeper understanding of a narrow set of qualified vendor's capabilities. This shortens the acquisition process and yields a better result for the client.

Monday, June 06, 2005


If you are not aware of the new phenomenon of "podcasting" here is an example I've created:


Meta-search and Dynamic Packaging

Recently both Sidestep and Kayak announced capabilities to search multiple sites for packaging comparisons. How do these technologies work with the trend towards dynamic packaging? The Sidestep beta vacation search engine allows the consumer to filter the responses by price ranges and quality of properties (# of stars) and provides an integrated display of vacation package options. The Kayak vacation search requires you select a specific site to search and therefore it not currently a meta-search vacation engine. Neither of these sites offers a way to compare dynamic packaging. There are many technological challenges in trying to offer a meta-search based on dynamic verses static packages. Foremost is the differences across sites on booking flow of various dynamic packaging engines. The initial offerings from Sidestep and Kayak involve agreement from the vacation packagers (mostly static package providers). It is my belief that a true dynamic packaging meta-search capability could be created across sites, but would need to enlist the cooperation of Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. Agreement from these sites may be an issue as each has taken a stance that meta-search commoditize their products. Keep tuned to this channel for further developments as meta-search and dynamic packaging converge.