The ABC of technology assesments

An old Ford model T might be cosy and might still get you from A to B. Driving through the city you might be better off with a bicycle and for longer road trips you will benefit from a more dependable and fuel-efficient solution. Using the right technology will put a smile on your face and help your business thrive. 

Most businesses need short term and long-term technology strategies to stay in business and keep ahead of the competition. As a decision maker you can quickly end up being pulled in conflicting directions by colleagues, bosses and consultants. But who is right and whose ideas might pull us away from the abyss?

Scoping of analysis

A number of important checkpoints are relevant here:

  • Business goals: What is the most important business need that we need to cater to. Are we looking for cost avoidance, a technological leap or just regaining lost ground due to lack of investment in IT? A relevant tool can be setting of a project group mandated with compiling a strategy paper with relevant options for execution. 
  • Desirability: Are the proposed solutions desirable or not. Will our current customer base support our goals or will they run for the hills? A relevant tool could be conducting customer surveys. Maybe the customers want a gentler approach to their business instead of further digitalization. 
  • Viability: Are the proposed solutions even possible or will the company die trying. Digitalization may be desirable in the short term or even necessary in the long term. But when the planners get carried away and lose sight of the business, then the digitalization projects risk alienating too much of our staff or too many of our customers.

Analysis tools

A number of important tools are available when looking into the viability of technological projects. The most relevant are:

  • Business cases. Here we have several excellent tools and templates at our disposal. The Danish government has several templates at the state, regional and municipal level that help pinpoint and address relevant drivers and inhibitors and lets you work with multiple scenarios – fx a worst case, a neutral or a best-case scenario.
  • Vulnerability studies. Compiling a vulnerability study can be part of a business case or a separate task. The vulnerability study can show the effect of taking an assumption out of the equation of a business case. For instance, what would happen if a projected service or necessary recruitment is delayed by 6 months. Another integral part is a classic risk analysis, where relevant project risks are listed and presented according to consequence and likelihood. 
  • Benchmarks. Several excellent tools and templates are at our disposal. The challenge is seldom the choice of tools, but the choice of benchmarking scenario. For instance, benchmarking a solution based on fixed pricing with a comparable solution based on variable pricing and volume-based discounting is often tricky. 

  • GAP: A GAP analysis is an efficient approach to understanding what commercial, organizational and technical changes need to be implemented in order to reach the desired goals. The central parts of the GAP analysis are the mapping of the current mode of operation and the description of the desired future mode of operations. The GAP analysis then describes the gap between the two scenarios. A GAP analysis is a good way to prepare the blueprint for a technology transition. 

Need help with your technology assessment? Feel free to contact my company.

The ABC of procurement projects

Getting the right supplier and right solution through a tender is sometimes tricky. Unless you figure out what you need, you will most likely never acquire it. Without preparation, you risk ending up tendering for solutions that are not yet offered in the market or not be available from more than one supplier. Therefore, doing the necessary ground work is essential.  

Step 1 - adressing business needs and scoping your procurement

Why are we doing this and how much time and effort are we willing to spend on our tender? These are crutial questions that need to be answered by the relevant stakeholders before scoping and planning the procurement project.

Step 2 - converting business needs to requirements

Will the market be able to cater to our needs? How do we translate our business goals into the wording needed in our requirement specification and contract? This is when the architect should make room for the procurement engineer. With the proper tools, the procurement engineer can build a transparent and efficient evaluation model that represent what is "need to have" through minimum requirements and what is "nice to have" through competitive requirements as exemplified below.

evaluation modelJPG

Step 3 - constantly aligning requirements with business needs.

During the writing of the tender documents the procurement engineer should continually ensure that the procurement project is fully aligned with the business goals. For instance, are we sure that the business goals sufficiently covered by the following minimum requirement?

minimum requirementJPG

Are we able to identify the best supplier and the solution using the following competative requriement?

competative requirementJPG

Sted 4 - tendering
During the tendering proces the suppliers should be able to comment on send questions to the tender material. This proces enables valuable rethinks of the tender material and enables the suppliers to better understand the tender material and to make changes to the tender materiel if needed. A number of procurement portals are available and are recommended. The portals ensure the necessary document handling and traceability during the tender.  

Step 5 - evaluation and feedback

In order to identify the supplier that achieves the best alignment with business needs a lot of work often has to be done. Applying an evaluation support tool will ensure transparancy and enable you to give suppliers feedback on where improvements could be made in their revised bids. Here a mathematical approach is simply not enough. Clarifications and negotiation are much more efficient in reaching common ground between the contracting parties. Using relevant negotiation themes and methods will enhance the results.

Mathematical computation will nevertheless be a necessary prerequisite for choosing the right supplier and giving other suppliers relevant feedback. Sometimes the winner is easily identified and sometimes not. Usually, you have to dig deep into the proposed solutions in order to identify the winner. Here is an example of some clear evaluation results that were achieved on one of the critierias used in a recent tender.

evaluation resultsJPG Step 6 - contract preparations and signature

Contract preparations is in most cases a simple proces of updating the contract documents with whatever has been agreed during question and answering sessions or negotiations. Sometimes the preparations might require further meeting and involvement of legal or technical counciling.

In my experience good preparations, good methods and good tools tend to leave very few issues remaing for the contract preparation and signature phase.  

Need some procurement assistance? Feel free to contact me.

Digitalization scorecard

Having frequently experienced buzzwords as first time resolution, customer journey, UX and many others while working on contact center solutions, the time had apparently come for me to actually experience contact centers and customer service as a common user.

Due to my current circumstances, I´ve been through a process of wading knee-deep in a swamp of user creation tasks, changes to current user and subscription information, filling out electronic forms and whatnot. What a relief it has been to experience that in most cases Danish digitalization actually works. Even in the summer holiday period where things tend to grind to a halt in Denmark.

Here’s my scorecard:

The bank: Changing and creating account information, applying for a new mortgage worked effortlessly through my phone app and subsequently involved videoconferencing, digital contract signature and only few and short phone calls. Grade = A

NemID: Changing to a new phone was unfortunately done without thinking everything through. My old phone had a special app, that is used to verify my credentials when conducting digital communications. That app was lost before transfer to my new phone. I waited in their voice queue for 45 minutes where after the helpful agent told me that they frequently experienced this problem. He then enabled a new ID setup and asked me to contact citizens service to conclude the case. Due to the frequency of this problem, they should have automated the handling of this case type. Grade = C

Citizens service: After NemID prepared my new setup I logged into my municipal citizens service and booked an appointment. The booking functionality was rudimentary but did the job quickly and efficiently. I set my appointment for the earliest possible morning slot the next day. When the time came, I drove to the designated office and registered my arrival on their self-service touchscreen. Since it was in the middle of the holiday period, hardly anyone was waiting for service and I was called to the counter 10 minutes before my appointment was scheduled. The service was polite and seemed competent. Unfortunately, I was issued a non-functioning set of keys and had to repeat the process a couple of hours later. This time I stayed at the counter until I verified that the keys worked. Grade = B

CVR: After deciding to setup a small consultancy company, I explored the fascinating path to setting up a company in Denmark. I was offered tons of useful information. It turned out that the process was simple, quick and totally digitized. Grade = A

The trade union: As an atypical Dane, I saved contacting my union till the very last moment. I needed help with filling out a digitized, but complicated insurance form. I called their switchboard and was given swift and competent service. They told me how to fill out the form and told me to contact them afterwards by mail so they could verify the information and help me with the case. Unfortunately, their mail system was also on vacation and my repeated mails bounced after 36 hours no matter what mail account or whether I attached files to my mail or not. Therefore, I went to their main office with a USB stick with the necessary documents. These were promptly printed and manually delivered to their dispatch service. I expect to hear who has my case and what they are doing about it someday soon. Grade = D