System design for solutions that involve acquiring a commercial off the shelf (COTS) software product include a procurement and decision analysis phase that addresses software and services. Completion of that phase involves the following tasks:
• Research technical criteria and options
• Solicits proposals (or quotes) from vendors
• Validate vendor claims and performances
• Evaluate and rank vendor proposal
• Award (or let) contract and debrief vendors
Research technical criteria and options: This task identifies specifications that are important to the software/hardware that is to be selected. The task involves focusing on the software/hardware requirements established in the requirement analysis phase. These requirement specify the functionality, features and critical performance parameters for our new software/hardware
Solicits Proposals: This task requires the preparation of one of two documents: a request for proposals (RFP) or request for quotations (RFQ).The request for quotation is used when you have already decided on the specific product but that product can be acquired from several distributors. Its primary intent is to solicit specific configurations, prices, maintenance agreements condition regarding changes made by buyers and servicing. The request for proposal is used when several different vendors and products are candidates and you want to solicit competitive proposals and quotes. The primary purpose of the RFP is to communicate requirements and desired features to prospective vendors. Requirements and desired featured must be categorized as mandatory, extremely important or desirable.
Validate vendor claims and performances: Soon after the RFPs or RFQs are sent to prospective vendors, you will begin receiving proposal(s)/quotation(s). Because proposals cannot and should not be taken at face value, claims and performance must be validated. This task is performed independently for each proposal; proposals are not compared with one another.
Evaluate and rank vendor proposals: The validated proposals can now be evaluated and ranked. The evaluation and ranking is, in reality, another cost-benefit analysis performed during systems development. The evaluation criteria and scoring system should be established before the actual evaluation occurs so as not to bias the criteria and scoring to subconsciously favor any one proposal
Award (or Let) and contract and debrief vendors: Having ranked the vendor proposals the next activity usually includes presenting a recommendation to management for final approval. Once again, communication skills, especially salesmanship are important if the analyst is to persuade management to follow the recommendations. The purpose of this activity is to negotiate a contract with the vendor who supplied the winning proposal and debrief those vendors that submitted losing proposals.