Stephanie Overby’s recent article “Speed Sourcing: The New Outsourcing Trend” ignited an interested debate. I would argue that the key point is this one:
A traditional RFP approach, although more time consuming, can be enlightening for a client who doesn’t sign an outsourcing deal every day. The process enables the customer to think through what the company is really trying to accomplish, consider potential change management and transition issues, and challenge assumptions.
By way of background, speed sourcing flies in the face of traditional application development and deployment. In short, speed sourcing sacrifices the drawn out RFP and a full blown vendor selection processes for “high level” objectives fulfilled by a predetermined number of vendors.
I couldn’t agree more. In my experience, clients tend to benefit a great deal from going through a BNA (business needs assessment), requirements’ gathering, or discovery. Whatever the terminology, the very process of clients asking themselves what they do, how they do it, and if there’s a better way can pay enormous dividends. To the extent that most new IT projects fail, though, this process is typically obviously not done well or comprehensively enough to ensure that projects get off to good starts.
In the end, I suppose that clients who clearly understand the path that they are about to follow might be able to benefit. For example, focusing on reducing transaction costs by 40 percent is clearly a paramount objective to creating every report in a client’s legacy system. Organizations that cling to antiquated processes are likely to butt heads with vendors trumpeting new and ostensibly better methods. Much like SaaS and Open Source ERP, I will be keeping my eye on speed sourcing to see if it gains traction.