I found this half written post from 5 years ago… Probably not going to finish it so best set it free…

Andy – 5/6/2013

As I was saying, I went to India to actually evaluate vendors for a project. Actually being involved in the selection process was new for me. Generally, I engaged with 3rd parties AFTER someone else performed the evaluation and negotiations. I was clueless on how to proceed. In retrospect, based on the outcome and a several day outsourcing conference by Gartner, we did everything right.

  1. Define your problem
    • Obvious, I know, but there are a few forms you can take. The most common are:
      • Formal RFP: The request for proposal provides detailed requirements, implementation constraints, scope constraints for a vendor to review and cost out
      • Informal RFI: A request for information is not as specific. It loosely defines the problem and asks the vendors to provide options and costs.
    • We did a combination. As a larger company, there was definite operational constraints that had to be adhered to (what can we run/support, etc). Additionally, we knew we wanted to end up with a Java application and had ideas on what the stack could be comprised of. Further, we were rearchitecting an existing application with the goal of having like-for-like features when completed. We recognized that all of the vendors were going to have more knowledge on potential java solutions, so left that area open for recommendations.
    • I drafted an Architectural Guiding Principles document that discussed characteristics of the system that would be built (maintainability, total cost of ownership, performance, developer liquidity, leveraging open source and/or other reusable components). All very standard stuff. It further described the multi-tiered application, but only at a high level with suggestions of possible solutions. We did not want ourselves painted into a corner based on our own short-sighted outlook.
    • We delivered the existing application and source code (10-15 year old application with little to no documentation – “the code is the documentation” type of thing) to each vendor.
  2. Create your Vendor Selection Criteria
  3. Communicate the plan
  4. Conduct on-site evaluation
  5. Follow-up on questions/issues raised
  6. Select a baseline vendor
  7. Narrow your candidate pool down to the top 2 or 3
  8. Communicate pluses and minuses with each vendor
Tagged with: