The Chicken and Egg Dilemma - Determining Your Needs
This is probably the most frustrating part of the process; by simple logic most firms find themselves in a Catch-22 situation. How can needs be properly determined without the expertise of a technology firm – and that is what this process is designed to result in – a competent technology to define needs and execute a plan.
There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this but there is a thought process to follow to take the correct steps to get out from underneath this chicken or egg situation. Expect to learn as you go. Therefore, do not feel that reaching out to an initial trusted advisor in the technology area is a long-term decision.
Create and use a Request for Proposal (RFP). RFP is a well-known and well-used term in business and especially with I.T. services firms that respond to RFP’s on a regular basis. Give yourself the latitude (mentally and in writing within the RFP) to modify it as your business needs and goals coalesce. You will learn, at the very least, the executive-level material you will need to know. Once this level of knowledge is learned, you will probably want to rework your plans (and probably the RFP) to better outline what you want (or want to get rid of) from technology standpoint.
Frankly that is it – that answers the Catch-22 dilemma. The way to really get started is to find a cadre of firms that will most likely help with this process then worry about another group of candidates for final decision making later. One could purport that the above process is flawed if it were not for the fact that the vast majority of the time, the cadre of companies you select to help write, hone, and respond to the RFP are the same except for one or two you may take out of the process or one or two that you will later include.