Bidding to provide digital transformation

Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business to enhance how they deliver value to their customers. As the world grows increasingly digitized, many organisations including public sector bodies are feeling the pressure to adapt in order to remain relevant as managing supply chain disruptions, time to market pressures and changing customer expectations becomes more complex.

While we tend to think of digital transformation in revolutionary terms, more often it is about updating existing legacy systems to something that is more fit for purpose. This perhaps speaks to a wider truth, that there is a fundamental disconnect between those procuring digital transformation services and those delivering them. This may go some way to explaining why 70% of transformation efforts fail.

As a supplier, it is not enough to have a ready-made solution – it needs to be a collaboration. But how to get that message across? In this article, we discuss a few key considerations for bidders.

Focus on client values
Any solution you propose should point to bold new outcomes for the buyer. However, digital transformation means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, even within the same organisation. While it would be ideal if these were already defined, often the bidding stage is just part of the transformation journey.

Of course, you should not gloss over the technical aspects of your solution but concentrating solely on describing two or three specific features risks alienating an evaluator who may be hoping to see more. To avoid this, consider framing your responses around how your solution supports the values of the organisation – these tend to be more commonly understood and are likely to resonate with each member of the evaluation panel.

Show sector experience
This is by no means specific to digital transformation; demonstrable experience of similar services delivered will always be the most reliable indicator of your capacity to deliver again. That said, organisations are especially risk averse to spending the type of money required to deliver a transformative service, especially when it means abandoning long-standing business practices in favour of relatively new processes that are still being defined.

Previous sector experience provides a common vocabulary when it comes to your consultations, meaning the buyer doesn’t have to work quite as hard to envision what your solution will look like. Good quality case studies are an obvious option here, but you might also consider outlining the likely risks of the solution and how you intend to mitigate them to demonstrate that you understand the sector.

Think of the end users
The goal of digital transformation is not the shiny new online platform that results from it, but how that platform can empower the end user to work more efficiently or have better access to the help they need. A solution that doesn’t work for those using it won’t generate buy-in and is no solution at all, so your proposal should reflect who is likely to be using your solution and what they are using it for.

The end user experience (sometimes called ‘customer journey’) touches every part of digital transformation, from initial engagement, testing and integration, training, and ongoing support. End users are diverse and often their needs are in conflict, so outline how you will balance these and find ways to create solutions that work for all. This includes those end users with accessibility issues and how their experience is likely to be impacted – for instance, what is the readability of a piece of software for colour blind users?

Take an Agile approach
Digital transformation is a multi-faceted process, and the benefits will take time to be realised. At the same time, most organisations are entering into it because they feel like they have to catch up with their competitors. Recent crises have also changed our relationship with technology. We would much rather have something that works now that can be improved on, rather than waiting three years for a “perfect solution” by which time it may no longer be what is needed anymore.

By promoting an Agile approach to digital transformation, you can provide the buyer with the certainty of a minimum viable product that meets their core requirements, whilst retaining the ability to experiment and iterate in measured steps together. This gives buyers a sense of ownership over the solution and the ability to validate that your collective efforts are moving towards the desired outcome.

Be a partner
As a supplier, you are expected to be the expert in your field, but you are not the expert in the buyer’s business. This is important to keep at the forefront of your proposal because, even if a buyer does not know exactly what it is they are looking for, any perceived attempt on your part to steamroller the discussion and impose your own ideas will likely meet push back.

This can be something of a double-edged sword as overreliance on the phrase ‘we will work with you to understand your requirements’ is a safe way to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. Best practice is to frame your relationship as a partnership; you are working together to improve the experience of your end user.

To that end, emphasise your consultation process, how you will capture information and how you will report back to them. Partnership is a two-way street, so be clear on the shared responsibilities and risks, and demonstrate a desire to promote each other’s successes. A buyer that feels you earnestly want to work with them is more likely to return that enthusiasm.


AM Bid
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