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How to Plan a Website Project & Write a Successful RFP


Published on

Presented by David Minton and Stephen Pashby at
4th Annual NCTech4Good Conference (06/07/2013)

Don't let planning your next website project become a full-time second job. Join us for a fresh look at the planning, RFP writing, and hiring process. We'll provide a "from the trenches" look at common points of failure and provide tactics for avoiding them through guidelines, tips, and case studies.

1. Learn how to plan a successful website project
2. Learn how to prepare an appropriate RFP
3. Learn how to select appropriate internal resources and/or external vendors

Published in: Business
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How to Plan a Website Project & Write a Successful RFP

  1. 1. How to Plan aWebsite Project& write a successful RFPFriday, June 7thDavid Minton @DH_DavidStephen Pashby @DH_Stephen@DesignHammer1
  2. 2. Overview• Planning essentials• Resource allocation• RFP elements2
  3. 3. Staying Organized“Organizing is what you do before you dosomething, so that when you do it, it is not allmixed up.”A.A. MilneAuthor of Winnie the Pooh3
  4. 4. Planning Essentials4
  5. 5. Plan for SuccessA journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.5
  6. 6. On planning“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”Harvey MacKayAuthor of Swim with the SharksWithout Being Eaten Alive6
  7. 7. Planning for success• Define Success• Define Desired Functionality• DetermineYour Budget• DefineYour Schedule• Appoint an Internal Project Manager7
  8. 8. Define SuccessHow will you know if you have been successful?8
  9. 9. On success“How does one measure the success of amuseum?”J. Paul GettyIndustrialist and Philanthropist9
  10. 10. Define success• What outcomes determine success?• How can they be measured?• Are they linked to website functionality?10
  11. 11. Possible metrics• Page views & visits• Membership submissions• Contact form submissions• Online orders• Online donations11
  12. 12. Tips: Success• Research metrics for similar websites• Don’t loose sight of users’ needs12
  13. 13. FunctionalityWhat does it need to do?13
  14. 14. On functionality“Any program is only as good as it is useful.”Linus TorvaldsChief architect of the Linux kernel14
  15. 15. Website functionality• Who will use it?• What do they need to do?• How will they interact with it?• How will you measure their success?15
  16. 16. Tips: Functionality• Define your core functionality• Plan for user feedback to influence laterdevelopment phases16
  17. 17. BudgetMore than dollars and cents.17
  18. 18. “I’d say it’s been my biggest problem all mylife… it’s money. It takes a lot of money tomake these dreams come true.”Walter Elias “Walt” DisneyCo-founder of Walt Disney ProductionsOn budgeting18
  19. 19. Determine your budget• What is project success worth to you?• Budget will guide:• Technological approach• Customization & integration• Expandability & future costs19
  20. 20. Budget factors• Consider total cost of ownership• If not paying cash, opportunity costs?• Is schedule or budget flexible?• How will you measure their success?20
  21. 21. Tips: Budgeting• Projects always cost more than expected• You never have enough for everythingyou want; plan around core needs21
  22. 22. ScheduleWhat to do and when to do it.22
  23. 23. “There cannot be a crisis next week. Myschedule is already full.”Heinz Alfred “Henry” KissingerUS Secretary of State &Recipient of Noble Peace PrizeOn scheduling23
  24. 24. Define your schedule• Work back from deployment date• Reserve time for testing• Reserve time for development• Reserve time for bidding and selection24
  25. 25. Tips: Schedule• If you think you have set aside enoughtime, you probably haven’t• Expect project to takes 2–3x as long!25
  26. 26. Project ManagementChaos was the law of nature;Order was the dream of man26
  27. 27. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”Dwight D. EisenhowerSupreme Commander Allied Expeditionary ForceOn Project Management27
  28. 28. Project Management• Improves efficiency• Lowers costs• Reduces chance of failure• Improves chance of success28
  29. 29. Tips: Management• More decision makers lead to longer andmore expensive projects!• Provide single points of contact forproject production workers.29
  30. 30. Resource Allocation30
  31. 31. “Most people have no idea of the giantcapacity we can immediately command whenwe focus all of our resources on mastering asingle area of our lives. ”Tony RobbinsMotivational SpeakerOn Resource allocation31
  32. 32. Development resources• You• Paid staff members• Volunteers/interns• Freelance/individuals• Agencies32
  33. 33. You• Pros• No additional cost• Readily available• Cons• Opportunity cost• Do you have the necessary skills?33
  34. 34. Paid staff• Pros• No additional cost• Readily available• Cons• Opportunity cost• Less scalable than freelance or agency34
  35. 35. Volunteers/interns• Pros• Free or cheap• Augment internal capabilities• Cons• Less stable than freelance or agency• Less scalable than freelance or agency35
  36. 36. Freelance/individuals• Pros• Less expensive than agency• Augment internal capabilities• Cons• Less stable than agency• Less scalable than agency36
  37. 37. Agencies• Pros• Stability• Technical capabilities• Scalability• Cons• Most expensive37
  38. 38. Drafting an RFP38
  39. 39. RFP Process• Writing an RFP• Selecting firms to approach• Comparing vendors39
  40. 40. “If you think it’s expensive to hire aprofessional to do the job, wait until you hirean amateur.”Paul Neal “Red” Adairblowout/oil firefighting pioneerOn hiring professionals40
  41. 41. Vendor InformationWithout, responses are just a guess.41
  42. 42. Vendors need to know• Functionality• Constraints• Schedule• Budget• Decision making criteria42
  43. 43. Functionality• Specific functionality• Public vs. private content• Third party integration• “Must haves” vs.“Nice to haves”43
  44. 44. Constraints• Technology requirements• Hosting requirements• Security requirements• Organizational requirements44
  45. 45. Schedule• Timeline for selection process• Desired start date• Desired launch date45
  46. 46. Budget• Without a target budget, firms will guess• What is minimum feature set for budget?46
  47. 47. Selection criteria• Price?• Schedule?• Technical experience?• Samples of similar work?• Company infrastructure?47
  48. 48. Qualification QuestionsComparing apples to apples.48
  49. 49. Questions for vendors• Past projects• Design & development philosophy• Technological capabilities• Capacity• References49
  50. 50. Vendor selectionA good decision is based on more than numbers.50
  51. 51. Types of vendors• Freelance/individuals• Virtual firms• Web development agencies• Advertising/marketing Agencies51
  52. 52. Which ones?• Ask your peers• Do web searches• Review other websites52
  53. 53. How many?• Does your organization have a minimumbidding requirement?• Consider no more than double thisnumber• Ideally 3–6• If really unsure, consider Request forInformation (RFI) to narrow number53
  54. 54. Compare vendors• Review proposals with vendors throughmeetings or calls• Ask for an apples-to-apples comparison ifvendor proposals do not line up• Everything is negotiable54
  55. 55. Tips and TricksKnowledge from the trenches.55
  56. 56. Tips: Budgets• If you aren’t permitted to provide budgetnumbers, indicate a budget above whichproposals will not be accepted that ishigher than your budget.This will helprecipients to decide if they want torespond.56
  57. 57. Tips: Budgets• Indicate who created your currentwebsite, as well as the development cost,and annual maintenance, as a point ofreference.57
  58. 58. Tips: Budgets• Expect vendors to review your IRS form990, available on websites such
  59. 59. Tips: Qualification• Schedule initial calls or meetings to allowboth you and the vendors to pre-qualifyeach other.59
  60. 60. Tips: Qualification• If you openly publish your RFP, don’t besurprised by the number of responsesyou receive.60
  61. 61. Tips: Qualification• Limit the length of response.This willsave you and the vendors significant timeand effort.61
  62. 62. Tips: Qualification• Ask specific questions to allow you tobetter compare vendors.• The amount of effort required torespond to your RFP should becommensurate with your budget!62
  63. 63. Tips: Schedule• Make sure you allow enough time toreview and compare vendors.63
  64. 64. Tips: Selection• Indicate what type of vendor created thecurrent website.• Why are you seeking a new vendor?• Was the current vendor invitedto submit an RFP response?64
  65. 65. Tips: Selection• Indicate how many vendors have beeninvited to respond to the RFP, as well aswhat types of vendors.65
  66. 66. Tips: Selection• Don’t ask for “spec work.” Mostprofessionals will not provide work, suchas designs, plans, etc. as part of an RFPresponse.66
  67. 67. It Doesn’t End HereNo website lasts forever.67
  68. 68. Conclusion• Planning is essential• Understand the pros and cons of resources• Make the most of RFP process68
  69. 69. David Minton &Stephen PashbyFollow us!