It is imperative that Marketing has a voice in the procurement of a new system. The customer and activity data collected through the licensing system is incredibly valuable to Marketing. We could know more than almost any brand about our constituents and customers, if we were capturing, and had access to, the proper data in our licensing systems. Marketing team members must be involved in the successful procurement of a technology solution and services provider that will benefit the agency and its marketing efforts long term.
This guide will include considerations for your agency, and specifically Marketing team, when you are about to embark on a procurement for a new hunting and fishing licensing system.
Process & Timing
Gathering requirements is no simple feat. Most likely, from the last time your agency did a procurement, a lot has changed in the industry. Gather marketing-related system and services requirements from recently completed RFPs to get a head start, and then adapt those to your needs. This process takes time, sometimes up to a year, to get to the final RFP document.
Save buffer time in procurement schedule
More than likely, there will be moments during the procurement process that will delay contract execution. Build buffer time into your schedules to ensure the contract is executed with enough time to complete system implementation prior to your current contract expiring. Potential delays include: too many questions from vendors to respond to all within Q&A time period, vendor award protest, and contract negotiations.
Your work is not done once the RFP is out. A marketing team member must have a seat on the evaluation committee. There will be vendor clarifications and opportunities during demonstrations to ask additional questions and make your priorities heard.
Simple & Goal Oriented
It is very easy to get into the weeds of every single detail the system needs to be able to accomplish. Your licensing division may already have a system guide from its current system that explains all business rules and functionality. Resist the urge to use this as a starting point. If you begin with replicating your existing system requirements, you will most likely get a similar end result.
Focus on the goals of what you would like to accomplish, what it needs to be able to do, and allow the vendor to propose the solutions. Ask the vendor to provide specifics on how their solution meets your needs including screenshots and examples.
If items you are looking for do not make the final requirements list, include optional add-ons for future use. If they are included in the base procurement as potential future options, you will not be required to go back out for public bid to expand the solution to include these items. Potential add-ons may be: Event Management, Campground Reservations, and Merchandise Store.
Several vendors are including the ability to sell hard cards where a portion of the proceeds may be used as discretionary funding for marketing services. This provides a budget for marketing to place digital ads, create promotional content, and further promote license system sales to grow participation and revenue.
Experience vs. Capabilities
It is very easy for a vendor to say that they will implement a requirement for you in the new system. It is more telling of their capabilities if you not only ask if they are capable of doing it for you, but what their previous experience is with the requirement. Include scaled scoring where “Currently Live” receives more points than “Will Include”.
Cost vs. Best Value
Most likely, you will have state procurement regulations requiring cost be a certain percentage of the evaluation criteria. We must ensure that we are spending our funds in the most efficient way possible. The traditional approach to evaluating cost is by calculating points based on proposed system cost amount. The issue with this approach is that it incentivizes the vendor to do the bare minimum to keep their costs down and win the bid. Over time, there will be limitations regarding expanding the system and vendor services that may create change orders and added costs that were not taken into consideration during initial award.
In order to avoid this, ask vendors to disclose total contract expenses for referenced projects to have a better understanding of potential total cost of ownership. Additionally, ensure the evaluation criteria is heavily focused on best value offering rather than cheapest price.