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Managing the SharePoint RFP - a Business Communication Case Study

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This is my first version of comparing communicating in the work place with communicating in relationships. Specifically, this presentation examines a business case centered around a SharePoint 2013 deployment, an upgrade and migrating some data from a SharePoint 2010 environmental compliance site.

As an intermediary between the environmental company's executive management team and the SharePoint consultants, it is important to consider the different ways of communicating to different audiences. The presentation not only explores those differences, but delves into communication through Active Listening and Problem Solving.

Tools that are explained in both personal and business applications are the Speaker Listener Technique, Managing Expectations, Constructive Griping and the Problem Solving Model.

Whether you are interested in learning more about communication, business application of communication styles, or SharePoint, I encourage you to enjoy the attached slideshow and the upcoming versions :)

Published in: Business, Technology
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Managing the SharePoint RFP - a Business Communication Case Study

  1. 1. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING MELANIE NELSON, FAIRLIGHT CONSULTING Managing RFPs - Communication
  2. 2. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 1 Agenda 1. Introduction 2. Business Case Study 3. Communication 4. Close and Thank You
  3. 3. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Introduction 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 2 1
  4. 4. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 3 Please take a moment to appreciate the sponsors that enable the SharePoint Community to gather, share knowledge, lunch, and enjoy a pint together in a beautiful location
  5. 5. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 4 The sponsors
  6. 6. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 5 Speaking from two positions or viewpoints? As a consultant: @FairlightConslt 214.507.0053 Melanie@FairlightConsulting.com www.LinkedIn.com/in/MelanieFNelson As an employee: Environmental Firm
  7. 7. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Welcome! The SharePoint Community has given me so much – I want to give back. Today I‟ll share the RFP Process I am currently engaged in, and what I have learned regarding communicating with the different parties involved. Reason for Presentation  Sharing my experience – business case study  Saving you time Audience  Business user Level  Business of SharePoint, not technical Created for  Consultants  SharePoint users  Business Decision Makers What‟s it worth? A month‟s time in this case… Managing RFPs - Communication SharePoint Saturday | 21-SEP-2013 | Nashua, NH 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 6
  8. 8. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING We learn wisdom from failure much more than success. We often discover what we will do, by finding out what we will not do. – Samuel Smiles 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 7
  9. 9. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING I failed my way to success. – Thomas Edison 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 8
  10. 10. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Business Case Study 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 9 2
  11. 11. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Current Using Internally Filling forms Approval work flows Collecting metadata Reporting Functions Process Flows well established  System was working as designed Low User Adoption  Speed slowed as data increased  No personalization  Dependent on consultant to update system RFP to Enhance Performance Structure to allow External Users Same functionality and purpose as earlier versions, adding external user functionality Needs  Architecture for scalability  Speed  Better Search Considering  Alternative form solutions Additional  Alternative devices for capture Scenario: SP2010  Enhanced SP2013 Environmental Compliance Database 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 10
  12. 12. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Definition from Wikipedia for RFP 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 11
  13. 13. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Other RFP Key Stakeholders CFO Ready to Pay ROI Driven Has bigger picture plans for future development  Franchising / Relationship development with SubContractors  Income from Forms Execs on Same Page Understand the Need Process Driven, needs for every day scenarios Know the business Built previous versions Understand needs of external and internal users  Forms  Reporting Frustrated Influencer Cost Conscious Understands need, has already been through versions 1 & 2 not quite meeting expectations & being expensive, does not see value of investing more money into SharePoint Very influential on Execs and Techs  Needs access/control & will excel  Problem solver and team player 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 12
  14. 14. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Three distinct voices communicating Executive Management Intermediary Consultants  Wants the best solution at the best price.  Do not want to know all the details.  Comfortable with a rate sheet.  Wants to properly set expectations for both the management and for the consultants.  Want line item pricing for decision making.  Goal is to under promise and over-deliver. To Mgmt = on time and under budget. To Conslts = accurate work descriptions and payment for efforts, adjusting SOW as needed.  Want to properly and competitively price the proposal to be awarded the project.  Need as much information about the company, their processes, perceived needs as possible “We just need the db and form capabilities” “I’ll do as much work as possible so you don’t have to.” “We really need to go through a Discovery Process ” 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 13
  15. 15. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Timeframe Simple email trail shows the month I could have saved 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 14  9/3 - Sent RFP to selected consultants  8/30 – Created Requested Attachments  8/29 - Shorter Version submitted  8/27 - Meeting to get feedback on RFP  8/23 - Emailed RFP for individual review  8/21 - Formal request for feedback on RFPs submitted  8/10 - Submitted 1st Draft of RFP  8/09 - RFP Requested
  16. 16. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Active Listening & Problem Solving Important in Business as well as Personal Life 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 15 Moving forward during the RFP process and throughout development and implementation I must CLARIFY, CLARIFY, CLARIFY So what I‟m hearing you say is…  Practice in my personal life  Teach to couples at Merge Incorporate these techniques in the workplace  What I‟ve learned  I am assuming what I hear is final, it could just be brainstorming  Not every project/job needs to be completed above and beyond, exceeding expectations  Need to make sure I‟m asking for enough details for me  Make sure I‟ve heard the full message  Stop to ask if there is more than one way to interpret the message, then clarify  “your place” example
  17. 17. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Communication Speak / Write for your Audience 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 16 Executive Management The management does not have time to do all of the work that you are doing to manage this RFP. They are decision makers and purse string holders and are trusting you to do the heavy lifting. You don‟t have to explain everything – even if you want to, they don‟t have time to hear it. Limited time to listen / review / read  Know your objective  Keep messages precise and focused  Know what it is the Execs want to know Consider the Format  What is most important?  Three key points  Mine were Mandatory/Preferred/Optional – too big!  Additional detail can be put in an appendix  Put focus on anything requiring a decision  Make it simple – yes/no, dollar amount, etc.  Make it clear – that decision is needed, timeline for decision, options to choose from (if so, give pro/cons) Pay attention to their attention span, and adjust if you start „losing‟ anyone
  18. 18. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Exec Management Communication Summary 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 17 You can tell the details of the RFP in an appendix or attachments to the RFP. Make sure to have the details accessible so if there are any questions, you will be able to draw from that information, or provide it, but do not inundate the audience with details And you can continue the conversation after the meeting/presentation/call, responding with lots of detail if they require it.  Think big picture  Big concepts  Decisions, not details 56% SIMPLIFY GIVE THEM THE GIST 2009 THEY DON‟T WANT OR NEED ALL THE DETAILS
  19. 19. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Communication Speak / Write for your Audience 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 18 Consultants Technical consultants need as much information as possible to accurately price this RFP. They are attempting to determine what level of expertise will be required, and the time to complete the project. A full discovery period would be required to gather all the information needed to fully line-item price the project.. Limited time to review and respond  Clearly state the goals and objectives required to be met  Define the scope as precisely as possible  Know what it is the consultants need to know requires understanding the system they are working with (SharePoint) Help them format their response  Prioritize what is most important to the key decision makers  Specify mandatory, preferred and optional  Mandatory defines whether contractor can meet requirements  Preferred and Optional give the opportunity for consultants to incorporate value- added benefits, further opportunity to win the business  Additional detail can be sent after the fact Solicit and respond to questions from each consultant, but evenly distribute the information to all
  20. 20. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Communication Speak / Write to gather information for yourself 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 19 Intermediaries Our role is to ensure that we collect the proper information to suggest a solution, and for management to be able to make that decision. Collecting the required information  Clarify the needs to be met by the RFP  Clarify the timing, structure and expectations for RFP approval  Clarify what additional information the consultants need in order to bid the proposal as well as they can without a full discovery Help consultants format their response  Clarify questions if more information is needed, so you can respond quickly  Distribute answers evenly  Request clarification if there is a part you don‟t understand in their response, giving them an opportunity to provide more information Help management make the selection  Research solutions offered by each and weigh suggestions based on management  Be prepared to explain suggestions, terms, concepts, suggested architecture, overall solution to management both for suggested consultant and other offerors  Clarify that the suggested consultant meets the requirements  Clarify any additional requests management may have Do the work first, so the others do not have to wait on you
  21. 21. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Setting Expectations More Work Up Front, but No Surprises 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 20 My thoughts/reasoning In the long run, it will be laid out, and we (me & consultant) can do phases. I learned how to do the detailing up front, by going through and working through other contractors and developers with software. Not SharePoint, but software in general, building websites and applications, and through those experiences, I found it best to lay all the details out up front so there‟s no hidden surprises. Then had to research and know my product to ask the right questions. Other Experiences  Submit RFP  Responses aren‟t detailed enough  Send additional information  2nd round of responses still don‟t convince me they‟re pricing the project accurately  Decision to fully detail requirements for pricing Difference between posting for any responses or specific respondents  Already selected consultants  Pleased to work with any of them  Interested to hear suggestions of each  Pricing will influence the final decision  RFP process provides opportunity to test communication with Offerors, which is crucial to this project
  22. 22. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Setting Expectations My thoughts/reasoning 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 21 More Work Up Front, but not Surprises In the long run, the project will be laid out, and we (me & consultant) can do phases. I learned how to do the detailing up front, by going through and working through other contractors and developers with software. Not SharePoint, but software in general, building websites and applications, and through those experiences, I found it best to lay all the details out up front so there‟s no hidden surprises. Then had to research and know my product to ask the right questions. Other Experiences  Submit RFP  Responses aren‟t detailed enough  Send additional information  2nd round of responses still don‟t convince me they‟re pricing the project accurately  Decision to fully detail requirements for pricing Difference between posting for any responses or specific respondents  Already selected consultants  Pleased to work with any of them  Interested to hear suggestions of each  Pricing will influence the final decision  RFP process provides opportunity to test communication with Offerors, which is crucial to this project
  23. 23. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Communication 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 22 3
  24. 24. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Active Listening & Problem Solving Important in Business as well as Personal Life 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 23 Coaching on Communications in my Personal Life I’ll discuss things I teach to couples at Merge and apply them to this business scenario Speaker Listener Technique  So what I‟m hearing you say is…  Expectations  Constructive Griping  Problem Solving
  25. 25. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING The Speaker Listener Technique Personal Coaching 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 24 Rules for the SPEAKER 1. Speak for yourself. Don‟t mind read! 2. Don‟t go on and on. Stop and let the listener paraphrase. Rules for LISTENER 1. Paraphrase what you hear Don’t rebut. Focus on what the speaker is saying. Rules for BOTH 1. The speaker has the floor. 2. Speaker keeps the floor while the listener paraphrases 3. Share the floor.
  26. 26. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING The Speaker Listener Technique Business Application 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 25 Rules for the SPEAKER 1. Speak for yourself. Don‟t mind read! 2. Don‟t go on and on. Stop and let the listener paraphrase. Rules for LISTENER 1. Paraphrase what you hear Don’t rebut. Focus on what the speaker is saying. Rules for BOTH 1. The speaker has the floor. 2. Speaker keeps the floor while the listener paraphrases 3. Share the floor.
  27. 27. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Expectations Personal Coaching 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 26 Three Key Problems 1. You can be UNAWARE of your expectations 2. Your partner‟s expectations. 3. Your expectations may be UNREASONABLE. 4. Your expectations may be UNSPOKEN. What to do about Expectations  Identify them  Consider if they are realistic  Discuss together -> Aware, Reasonable & Spoken EXPECTATIONS: – are beliefs about the way things will be or should be-- including about behaviors, roles, life and death, relationships, and so forth – that are not met lead to feelings of sadness, disappointment, frustration, and anger.
  28. 28. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Expectations Business Application 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 27 Three Key Problems 1. You can be UNAWARE of your expectations or those of the other parties 2. Your expectations may be UNREASONABLE – each business scenario is different and what works at a F100 company may not work at a family owned business, the level of detail one company may provide for an RFP may not be known by another company 3. Your expectations may be UNSPOKEN – you must be clear and document as needed What to do about Expectations  Identify them – talk to all parties  Consider if they are realistic - how much detail for consultants  Discuss together: formally - Annual Review, informally – conversation. Ensure expectations are properly set for both parties EXPECTATIONS: – are beliefs about the way things will be or should be– based on past experiences and personal preferences – that are not met lead to – lack of efficiency, frustration, and possibly even missed deadlines or underperformance
  29. 29. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Constructive Griping Personal Coaching 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 28 When you did X Specific Behavior In situation Y Specific Situation I felt Z Owning feelings Be Respectful and Be Specific
  30. 30. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Constructive Griping Business Application 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 29 When you did X Requested this RFP / Wrote a 60 page RFP In situation Y For the next version of the Environmental Compliance Database The result was Z I thought the goal was getting pricing so wrote as much as I could to get line-item detail for your final selection Additional work needed to be done to adjust for Be Clear and Concise to avoid confusion
  31. 31. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Problem Solving Model Business Application 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 30 Problem Solution  Agenda setting  Decide on what to work on right now  Plan to work the other pieces of the problem at another time  Focus in and narrow down the concerns  Brainstorming  Agreement and compromise  Work toward what you can both agree to do  Discuss pros and cons of different potential solutions  Follow-up  Agree on solution to be tried now  Agree on a time frame to try solution and agree to assess and revise as needed
  32. 32. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING This SP2010 -> SP2013 RFP Both reinforces and teaches me new ways to work 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 31 I have learned and am learning… SharePoint is amazing…  But is not the solution to everything, and „selling‟ that doesn‟t come across as genuine  Can be overwhelming to anyone that doesn‟t know the capabilities on a more detailed level The SharePoint RFP  Does not need to be a full governance plan and map for future growth  Was meant by management to be a tool to select a consultant  Ballpark pricing pending discovery and a rate sheet  Timeline was not cut and dry end of the year for full roll out  Extra effort on my part caused undue extra effort to others - to review, respond, and discuss (opens a can of worms)
  33. 33. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Overall Communication Active Listening Don’t Wait - Ask Be Prepared Consider your Audience Consider type of communication  Emails  Short -> Execs  Detailed -> Devs/Conslts Always, and particularly for RFPs/Projects This is bullet level two or Paragraph style This is bullet level three  This is bullet level four  This is bullet level five  Which is actually bullet level six This is Heading Style This is bullet level two or Paragraph style This is bullet level three  This is bullet level four  This is bullet level five  Which is actually bullet level six This is Heading Style This is bullet level two or Paragraph style This is bullet level three  This is bullet level four  This is bullet level five  Which is actually bullet level six Recap Lessons Learned 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 32
  34. 34. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Adaptive Solution The Win! 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 33 4
  35. 35. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING This SP2010 -> SP2013 RFP Status Update 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 34 Management approved RFP is out & I am sending the detailed information to consultants in a Q&A email formant Great Communication with management  Annual Review and genuine conversations  Extra time and listening actively over a multi-day period resulted in a communication breakthrough with the frustrated influencer – Clarification of his needs = understood On-going communication with consultants  Some dropped out of process due to needing full discovery or more time  Relationships being developed with some consultants through the process  Better outlines of functionalities needed are being created through Q&A emails Very pleased with the progress once expectations were clarified, and am excited to move into the selection process when proposals are received
  36. 36. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Question & Answer Time 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 35 5 @FairlightConslt 214.507.0053 Melanie@FairlightConsulting.com www.LinkedIn.com/in/MelanieFNelson 214.531.9377 mnelson@tait.com @taitenvupdates
  37. 37. FAIRLIGHTCONSULTING Close Thank you 25 September 2013 © 2013 Fairlight Consulting 36 6 @FairlightConslt 214.507.0053 Melanie@FairlightConsulting.com www.LinkedIn.com/in/MelanieFNelson 214.531.9377 mnelson@tait.com @taitenvupdates

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