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The Healthcare RFP Process Is Backwards. How We Plan to Fix it.

Paul Griffiths

The request for proposal (RFP) process is a necessary but often frustrating process for healthcare organizations. It’s time consuming to gather requirements, assemble stakeholders, engage procurement, and manage the schedules of reviewers. And that’s just to get to square one.

AgencyAgile RFPIt is all too common that RFPs, despite the time invested in development, result in responses that are underscoped, over budgeted, or just plain wrong. Requirements you thought were crystal clear come back muddier than you had expected. Now you’re stuck in the details of all the steps and tasks that have to be accomplished. What’s worse, this is the purpose of putting out the RFP in the first place – to hire expertise to help you get it done.

If you’ve felt this way, let me assure you that you’re not alone. The RFP process works well for commodities – if you have bought document storage services in the past, the product and process is probably fairly similar when you want to buy them again. However, the RFP flat out fails at developing clear guidelines for new, innovative work. And you get stuck within the limits of your organization.

Fortunately, you can turn a project around by implementing project roadmapping before you put an RFP out for bids.

Ready to draft an RFP? Contact us.

What is project roadmapping?

Project roadmapping is a low-tech, fast, and complete visualization of a complex digital project. It is a visual outline of every detail that goes into a particular project, from start to finish, in plain language.

Roadmapping focuses on the project scope step by step – for example, the need for a responsive design – rather than focusing on the final deliverable only – the website itself. Then we work with clients to articulate why achieving that result matters, how we will know it is done, and how long it will take.

This future projection is vital to help project stakeholders develop realistic, attainable goals for your internal teams, including timelines and anticipated budget. Most importantly, this process acknowledges if there are things you don’t know how to solve. Acknowledging that ambiguity, which isn’t permitted in a typical RFP process, is critical to building a realistic sense of the project.

Project roadmapping has become an integral part of our business strategy, and it’s helped our clients have a clearer understanding of their website projects.

A roadmapping example

Let’s say your team is interested in designing a brand new website. The RFP roadmap for such a project would include the technical steps to create it, as well as the design, content, and distribution elements that are essential to executing the project and achieving your long-term goals.

The more descriptive we can make the details of the roadmap, the better. For example, rather than just listing the words “better homepage design,” we would discuss what “better” means, what internal expectations have been set, and what a completed design means to you.

We break down requirements into stories, a best practice in software development for years. Our “better homepage design” example will break into a number of stories, which would include, for example, the need for a new navigation.

In 15 minutes, we could determine the obvious main navigation items:

  • Services
  • Locations
  • Doctors
  • MyChart
  • Foundation

We might also walk away with questions, such as:

  • What is the most-used menu item currently?
  • What features are most used in mobile?
  • Will the hero area be stationary or a carousel?

Roadmapping allows us to capture these questions, without having to answer them immediately. This means we can clarify what we know instead of revalidating everything each step of the way.

When we help organizations build out RFP project roadmaps, we’re striving for clarity of scope and accuracy of timelines. At the end of the roadmapping session, we want our partners to leave with a clear understanding about what is included in their project scope, what is needed, and what outcome to expect — without feeling anxious that something vital has been overlooked in their RFP.

If you’re interested in roadmapping a project with our team, connect with us today.

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