Developing the RFP
A larger core team was developed early, consisting of about 15 people from all over our campus, who wrote the RFP over several months. A smaller team was also developed to be responsible for shepherding the RFP through the process once it was written—issuing the RFP, responding to vendor inquiries, opening the RFP responses once they were received, and scoring them on a number of predetermined criteria.
In this particular case, because it was a large RFP, we invited all of the vendors to campus to give presentations to the campus community. Having learned from past experience, we asked the vendors to follow the scripted scenarios we had created so that it didn’t turn into a sales pitch. We gave a time at the beginning for introductions, and left a good chunk of the time for vendors to describe their solutions, methodologies, and all things pertinent to how they would support our requirements. All of this was sent to the vendors prior to the in-person meeting with the RFP committee, so each vendor could prepare in advance.
During the face-to-face meeting, we also gave time for the vendors to answer any additional questions using a formal process. We passed around cards on which audience members could write their questions, and then handed them to members of the RFP committee to prioritize, before reading them out loud for the vendor to respond. Everyone was also asked to complete an evaluation form, which the committee used as part of its input. After taking everything into account, we made our final recommendation to our purchasing group, and then negotiations were started.
The decision was to create a virtual private cloud with Blue Hill Data Services and to retool staff and the environment in order to change the technical infrastructure.
The people involved were those individuals who built and maintained the systems, who had real working knowledge of the systems. Some were close to retiring; others needed to use their resources in other places for other things, and those people who were integrally involved made the project work very well.