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Is it what you want, what you really really want?

What do I do first?

Every project starts in a bewildering sea of philosophies, references, opinions, and guidance. Of the many things that you think you need to do, which one should come first? Often it doesn’t matter, as long as by the time you have to submit a business case you can show that you’ve built a strong base on which to proceed, underpinned by intelligent thinking and evidence-based judgements. If your ‘ducks are in a row’ then you’ll have a sound argument with which to proceed and you’ll be able to withstand the onslaught of clever ‘catch you out’ questions. What you will need, however, is a good idea of what sort of ducks you need and what formation you’d like them to be in.

What do I do next? 

Once you’re on your way and you’ve set out all the tasks that your team needs to complete, one thing you can be sure of is that something always changes. You dust off the list and get back on track, then something else changes. You conclude that the only fact you can rely on is change[1]. You surmise that you should proceed with short-term objectives while maintaining a wider context that, by definition, is looser. You also decide to periodically review and revise the information and assumptions that you have been working to. 

Who’s out there?

If you want to buy something like a new bike then you probably already know what you might want and can research websites and cycling magazines to refine it and get an idea of who can provide it. But in the world of complex procurement, it is rare that the very thing that you want is sitting on a shelf for you. So how do you find who could satisfy your needs, and how could you engage with them to refine your thinking? How useful might it be for potential suppliers to declare themselves interested and help you to answer the questions you will have? Projects we’re engaged with are increasingly using market engagement portals, some created in AWARD®, to conduct this type of research to improve project outcomes in an auditable, transparent way.

What do I need?

Getting a solid requirement is not a trivial task and underestimating the complexities can result in it lagging behind other parts of the project; increasing the risk of proceeding with an immature requirement set.  Ambiguities that are not resolved leave suppliers trying to hit a moving target. While it is important to explore, debate and identify the ‘whys’ behind each requirement as these will drive the design, it is equally important to move this work forward appropriately. The AWARD® Requirements Management functionality, part of the AWARD® Structured Criteria Development (SCD) module, helps you review and capture a project’s requirements right from its outset, supporting speedy collaboration towards agreement by stakeholders.  

What’s my plan? 

Understanding the market will help to identify all the options for what can be acquired, when and how; but which one is best? You will need to consider the options with all their nuances and justify the best plan; for this plan to be compelling it will need a big bag of convincing evidence to support conclusions. By setting questions and finding suitable evidence-based methods by which answers can be derived, Commerce Decisions has supported teams to create realistic plans to help them ensure they get exactly what they expect. The entire process can be conducted in AWARD®, ensuring that a full, transparent audit trail is captured of all the decisions made along the way, and the reasons behind them.

And the conclusion? 

To deliver a business case that is authentic and convincing takes preparation in a context that will be ambiguous and changing. Adopting strategies that assume change and build thinking progressively towards answers, rather than making leaps of faith, will help navigate this bumpy ride. The AWARD® software has been developed by Commerce Decisions to support teams from the outset of this process. Our AWARD® Requirements Management functionality, has been specifically designed to capture more information than ever before and build an evidence-based requirement that will form part of a robust, fit for purpose and defensible contract award criteria. Once you’re happy with your criteria set and are ready to go to market, our proven SCD process will help you look at the project information and engage stakeholders in order to create a unified view of the project’s objectives. It is important that the project team understands exactly what it is that they’re buying by ensuring that they do not lose sight of why they’re buying it.

With an automatic trail and record of all activity, AWARD® SCD supports the creation of robust, fit for purpose, determinable criteria with which project teams can go to market.

If you’d like to learn more about how our AWARD® software and expert services can help you deliver the best possible outcome on your next project, please contact Ian Wiseman, MOD Account Manager.


[1] Apologies to Heraclitus who said that ‘the only thing that is constant is change’.