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We had the great pleasure of facilitating the collaboration of Sitefinity and Medical Teams International in 2013. We had been developing our partnership with Sitefinity and were looking for an opportunity to demonstrate our mad development skills on this platform.

In January 2014, after months of requirements development and implementation, Medical Teams International launched their website.

Medical-Teams-International-2014-04-01_15-18-50

Building a Case Study

After letting the dust settle for a while, we approached Medical Teams for some feedback on the project. We were delighted with that they had to say about the development and the software itself. They are actively building content in their updated system and will be back to commence secondary phases of the project shortly.

Please see the full case study here: Sitefinity CMS Case Study – A Medical Teams International Deployment

A Very Good Read: Beyond Customer Experience Mangement

Monday, March 10, 2014 @ 04:03 PM
Author: Jade Carter

Falcon-Software has recently completed it’s developer certification for e-Spirit CMS, an enterprise Content Management platformed based out of Germany. We go to great lengths in order to properly vet any new partnerships to ensure that their technology is a good fit for our development team and most importantly our clients.

Recently e-Spirit provided us with a whitepaper to help diversify our Whitepaper library. After reading through the document, I was clear that we had made an extremely positive decision when choosing to develop a partnership with this organization.

Completing the Global User Experience

The global user experience is defined as the culmination of experience by the entire CMS audience which includes the developer (DX), integrator (IX), content creator (CCX) and finally the customer (CX). Each of these specific user groups are assessed together to form the Global User Experience. Very smart; and when you take a moment to think about it; common sense.

In their analysis it is represented by this equation:

CX = CCX x DX x IX

In other words, the back end experiences define the quality of the customer experience—
if they are lacking, so too will the customer experience. Note the multiplier
effect of the collective experiences: more than just the sum of the parts, customer
experience improves exponentially with the interplay of the global experience
components.
*quote from whitepaper

 

Click to Get the Whitepaper

The authour of this paper does a fantastic job of retaining my attention. It’s far from dry or overly technical and is very much accessible to those who should be reading this. They have clearly developed this based on a very specific target audience which bodes well for how they approach the other client centric elements of their business.

They take time to intelligently discuss the nuances between 4  specific elements of a Global User Experience.

  • Customer Experience
  • Content Creator Exprience
  • Developer Experience
  • Integrator Experience

They also take time to reiterate the need for a close relationship between the CMS vendor and the integrator.

How Would You Rate Your Customer Experience?

If you said great, it’s likely that there is a 70% chance that you’re wrong. The whitepaper quotes a fantastic survey (Bain and Company), in which 80% of companies felt they provided ‘great’ customer experience, however a meager 8% of customers felt the same way. It’s embarrassing that in 2014, with all of the research out there, so many companies still feel they know what’s right for their customers without even a thought to actually take the time to ask them.

This is an extremely concise and readily consumable whitepaper. It most definitely provides heaps of valuable information in order to help the reader develop a clearer understanding of what tools they need in order to develop a Global User Experience and what questions to ask when sourcing a new CMS Vendor.

As a final word (and I hope they don’t mind) here is the TOC, where you can sense the writing style and general ‘easy going’ nature of the content while delivering definitive take-aways.

Click to download the whitepaper and learn something about the Global User Experience

Table of Contents

 

  • Introduction
  • Defining the Global User Experience
  • Where It All Begins: Customer Experience
  • The Write Stuff: The Content Creator Experience
  • Not Just for Coders: The Developer Experience
  • No CMS is an Island: The Integrator Experience
  • Vendors Matter: Why Even a Great Global User Experience Isn’t Enough
  • All Together Now: Selecting the Right CMS
  • Appendix: Case Studies

 

Espirit-completing-global-ad

Kentico 8 Open Preview Release – Admin Dashboard Goes Metro

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 @ 04:02 PM
Author: Jade Carter

“All development has ended and all new features are done.”

Those are some very exciting words coming out of the Kentico camp. It seems that we’re only just putting away the documentation for V7 and now we have a nice new shiny version to dip our feet into. Launch of Kentico CMS Version 8 is slated for the end of March, 2014.

In the teaser video they drop a ton of great new features on us and we’re just waiting in the wings for our copy.

Kentico.8.Preview.Dashboard

Some particularly spectacular spoilers include:

  • No more CMSDESK or SiteManager! They have been assimilated together to form the central administrative interface.
  • New administrative dashboard based on a Metro User Interface (tile based).
  • Dashboard is personalized based on User Roles so only the most relevant applications are available which are determined by the Administrator.
  • The ribbon based toolbar is gone and has been replaced by a left sidebar based accordion menu feature.
  • Incredible new form builder application.

But don’t take our word for it, watch the video yourself.

Sign up for a demo on their page here: http://devnet.kentico.com/articles/final-preview-of-kentico-8

A Plethera of Predictions – WCM in 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014 @ 12:01 PM
Author: Jade Carter

Or is it CEM or CXM or perhaps CEP or, wait, WEM; no it’s… Ah, whatever.

Our friends over at CMS-Connected just rolled out their 2014 Predictions show (as we mentioned in this post) and so I thought I would gather up what I could find floating around the interwebs and list out a few predictions as I found them; a Soothsayer digest so to speak.

CMS-Connected Predicting the Future of Enterprise Content

The end of the show brought together 5 main aspects of the industry that we will see make headway this year.

  • Customer Experience Management (CEM not CXM!) – We saw this term establish itself 3 or so years ago, however the concept has been around for more like 15. We learned about the term Digital Disruption and we will see it used ad nauseam in the coming year. This year it becomes increasingly important to embrace or use digital information to improve the human interactions with the customer. For instance sharing the digital marketing stream that landed the customer on the website and to the hotel booking, with the check in clerk would ad a whole new level of personalization to that first face to face connection.
  • Commerce - We will see a closer intersection between commerce and content. This will be most apparent in the form of company acquisitions such as when Sitecore gobbled up CommerceServer and SAP’s purchase of Hybris. Scott predicts that there will be a continuing run on commerce startups as well as marquee established companies.
  • The Importance of Service Providers – Meaning that with the growing complexity of CEM and all the dependent technologies, the role of the digital agency or the integrating company becomes increasingly critical to the success of the enterprise project.
    • Editor’s note: As a service provider, we definitely endorse this prediction!
  • WCM/CMS Mindset Will Die – Vendors and integrators who continue to pursue the CMS/WCM ideology will find themselves out of work. The growing complexity of CXM development will force agencies and integrators to re-educate themselves in order to keep up with what the cutting edge software providers are delivering in their platforms. Integrators in 2014 must learn to take advantage of the contemporary tools at their disposal to further their integration solutions.
  • Onset of Intelligent Publishing – If I am surmising appropriately, Scott’s point here is that the evolution of customer engagement will move towards more integration of analytics and metrics in order to produce that right time, right place, right location and right device, Utopia. We have so many tools at our disposal that vendors and integrators will start to be able to develop very intelligent marketing automation strategies. Big data and CRM platforms will help feed this innovation creating an era of truly meaningful and smart content publishing.

- Read the full article at: http://www.cms-connected.com/Blog/2014/January/2014-Predictions-Show-A-Resounding-Success

Kentico CMS Has a Few Suggestions of What They Think Will Surface in 2014

  • We will see the first marketing campaigns leveraging Google Glass or similar devices.
    Although it’s not clear yet whether Google will launch their Glass this year, marketers should start thinking creatively about how to leverage the new possibilities. We expect to see the first marketing campaigns leveraging the augmented reality provided by Google Glass to deliver new, innovative and immersive experiences for customers.

    • Editor’s note: Really?
  • Marketers will start consolidating their digital marketing tools into fewer solutions.
    As marketers invest a growing portion of their budgets into digital marketing, they want to maximize their results by delivering consistent, personalized and context-sensitive customer experience across multiple channels. That’s a complex task when your tools operate in silos. Marketing solution vendors realize this which is why we saw many acquisitions in this space during 2013 as vendors continued to create a more complete portfolio. This year, we expect that marketers who want to take a more sophisticated approach or just want to be more efficient, will abandon some of their existing point solutions and replace them with integrated packages.

    • Editor’s note: Excellent point indeed. Streamlining and consolidation into a single platform; instead of integration.
  • Online retailers will focus on the personalized experience of individual customers.
    Everybody wants to provide an Amazon-like experience, but only a few have the tools and resources to do that. As Big Data and Cloud technologies make mass-scale personalization and marketing automation more accessible, more e-tailers will use them to deliver a better customer experience.

    • Editor’s note: I agree, however I also believe that many retailers may be unaware how feature rich their CMS may already be. Personalization can be as simple as showing a visitor which of their Facebook friends who have also ‘liked’ this site (Facebook Like Box), and so on.
  • Responsive design will finally become a standard for the majority of new sites.
    We missed the mark with this prediction last year, but we expect that by the end of 2014, new non-responsive websites will be the exception. At the same time, website owners will try to figure out how to provide their content through new devices including Google Glass, smart watches and car dashboards.

    • Editor’s note: More so, websites that don’t provide multi-channel support are increasingly negligent and will drop leads like stones in a pond. Regardless of whether they chose a RWD or a dedicated mobile strategy.
  • Marketers will look for more tangible results from social media, beyond followers and likes.
    As many C-Suite executives want to see quantifiable ROI from social media, we will see a growth in use of Social CRM and Social Marketing tools that will help marketing connect their communication across channels as well as attribute sales to social media activities.
  • The PaaS and SaaS model will continue gaining popularity for website hosting.
    As companies try to reduce the costs and complexity of the IT infrastructure for running their websites, they’ll start choosing PaaS and SaaS options for their websites and marketing tools, leveraging the elasticity of Cloud.
  • Marketing automation will become the norm
    Marketing departments are being asked to do more than ever before and to work together with sales departments more than ever before. This means delivering sales ready leads at the right time in the purchase cycle. Marketing automation will become the standard as a way to nurture and automatically engage customers throughout the life cycle, helping marketing departments to deliver engaged sales ready leads.

Read the full article here: http://devnet.kentico.com/Blogs/Petr-Palas/January-2014/7-Predictions-for-Digital-Marketing-in-2014.aspx

Real Story Group …

They want you to trade your email address for their predictions. :)

It’s up to you. http://marketing.realstorygroup.com/acton/form/5009/002f:d-0001/1/index.htm

I, Cringely Predicts

I stumbled across some great technology predictions over at Cringely.com. I like when people take a chance instead of reading from the pages of “Captain Obvious”. Some great stuff here:

  • Microsoft gets worse before it gets better. “Microsoft’s future lies in the enterprise and the quicker they get out of consumer products the better for the company, but a weak CEO won’t be able to move fast enough.”
  • IBM Throws in the towel.  “Cutting costs, buying revenue, repurchasing shares and short-changing both customers and employees no longer adds-up to enough financial power to get the job done.”
  • Blackberry to Microsoft. “Microsoft will get enough patents from the deal to further enhance its revenue position in the Android market (you know Microsoft gets royalties from Android phones, right?).”
  • Intel does ARM, kinda. “The idea that Intel would go back to building ARM processors is supposed to be a big deal but I don’t see it happening without some external push.”
  • Samsung peaks. “With Apple gone and Samsung phone margins eroding, what’s the company to do?”
  • Facebook transforms itself (or tries to) with a huge acquisition. “If not Snapchat then some other overnight success. Facebook needs to borrow a cup of sugar somewhere.”
  • Cable TV is just fine, thank you. “Cable companies already make all their profit from Internet service so why do anything else? But not this year.”
  • The Netflix effect continues, this time with pinkies raised. “Hollywood is for sale. Nothing new there: Hollywood has always been for sale. Remember when it was Sony buying Columbia Pictures that was supposed to change entertainment forever? How did that work out?”
  • What cloud? The cloud disappears. “My old friend Al Mandel once told me “The step after ubiquity is invisibility.” This means that once everyone has something it becomes a given and gains commodity status along with dramatically lowered profit margins.”
  • Smart cards finally find their place in America. “They’ve been popular in Europe for 15 years but American banks are too cheap to use them”

I quite enjoyed that list. Read the full article and more here: http://www.cringely.com/2014/01/08/ten-technology-business-predictions-2014/

What Else is Going to Happen

We’ll have to see how things roll out through the year but I am going to go way out on a limb here with my own prediction:

  • Writers who use variations of the; “Person facing camera while writing on transparent whiteboard” stock image will spontaneously combust into a flaming office fireball.
Ironic Image

Ironic Image

What are your thoughts?

CMS-Connected Jan 2014 – What Was the Show About Again

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 @ 05:01 PM
Author: Jade Carter

Oh, right; 2014 Predictions, Trends and Hot Topics.

Bearded.Fortune.Teller

Come closer my friend. For a small fee Zoltar will give you some helpful advice.

Still, there appeared to be a bit of a ‘side topic’ that popped up randomly throughout the broadcast. The Bearded One took center stage early and gave us some good laughs in between some of the years big stories and predictive commentary. A couple of us ‘Falconers’ joined in the Twitter chit chat in what was one of the most engaged shows that I’ve watched to date. There are usually a few eyeballs watching from the company and while we enjoy every show, it was refreshing to see the Tweets light up a bit, albeit unrelated to the show topic; no worries. It was all in good fun and we hope to see more of this great back and forth between Scott and Butch in the future.

CMS-Connected usually puts out a great recap story so we won’t do that, but instead I thought I would collect all the Twitter chatter!

Behold the day that was; Scott’s Beard

Scott starts it off.

The votes start to trickle in.

 

 


Someone got his attention.


The show is only 5 minutes old at this point. :) The votes continue.

 

A couple men are lauding the virtues of the beard.

 

To which Scott acknowledges the kind word:

 

Another advocate.

 

Hammers start to fall.

 

 

Kudo’s.

 

Tip of the Hat.

 

 

There was also a CMS-Connected Show

All the while Scott was a super great sport about the ‘Beard’ sideshow. In between all this was a fantastic show with some really big time stories. It looks like the evolution of CMS is upon us along with intelligent content marketing, personalization and automation all wrapped up in today’s enterprise CEM platforms. It’s what people want.

We look forward to CMS-C’s recap post as well as the next show in February where they will once again tackle ‘Big Data’

Do you see your tweet above? Leave us a comment below.

Device Emulators in Sitefinity 6.3 – Cool

Thursday, January 16, 2014 @ 05:01 PM
Author: Jade Carter

It’s one thing to develop a functional website with an appropriately tested user interface (UI). It’s another thing entirely to ensure that the new face of your online ‘self’ is equally impactful across a growing list of handheld web browsing devices.

Development requirements that are delivered to us from the client usually contain several ‘boiler plate’ generalizations for browser support. Generally, people understand that IE is the Ugly Duckling and is often seen to operate in its own entire world when compared to Chrome and Firefox. Knock on wood, things seem to be improving. However it’s the mobile support that can really sneak up on you.

Must Support iPhone and Android

Right. First of all, ‘iPhone’ is a device while ‘Android’ is an operating system which is used by hundreds of devices from dozens of different companies. On the surface this innocent mixup looks sort of funny, but the lack of understanding here can be a huge red flag down the road. Regardless of the technical understanding, it’s our obligation to ensure that this site is tested on mobile devices, period. At one time we had to endure the inter-office bellowing between various staff each testing our new websites; who’s got an iPhone, what version is it running, has anyone seen the iPad, who’s got an Android phone? Not really a model for efficient quality testing.

Size is Everything

Thankfully, as we’ve been migrating to smartphones, there has been an element of standardization with the browsers and so our only hurdle would be the effective screen sizes. And, with the rise of Responsive Web Design (RWD), we can manipulate the layout while maintaining a high degree of engagement to our most meaningful content; yay.

Bring on the Device Emulators

The most efficient way to test the responsive capabilities of our projects was by the use of device emulators. Adobe had one that we used for a while and now that we’re rolling out Sitefinity websites we are able to take advantage of their integrated device emulator in version 6.3. Check out the video below where we see that not only can we test various iPhone (iOS) and Android based configurations, we also have access to Amazon’s new generation of Kindle HD devices as is mentioned in the demo.

Have a watch and thank you to all of our CMS partners that have handheld device (smartphone and tablet) emulators baked right into the editor.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Victoria, British Columbia – December 10th, 2013 Falcon-Software Company, Inc. (http://www.falcon-software.com) announced that it had successfully completed its certification as a Trusted Integration Partner for e-Spirit’s enterprise CMS solution, FirstSpirit.

Trained Partner (3)

“This is an excited step in our evolution, states Gary Eisenstein, President and Chief Strategist at Falcon-Software. “With seven Web CMS vendor partners currently in our stable, e-Spirit will be the first Java based CMS platform supported in our 20-year history; quite the technology divergence from a company that has made a name for itself as the .NET web CMS experts over the last two-decades.

“Falcon-Software sets a very high standard for implementing web solutions that have creative excellence, are technically sound and deliver business value,” said Robert Bredlau, Chief Operating Office for e-Spirit Inc. in Boston. “They are the type of partner that our customers can turn to with high confidence that they will deliver exceptional results and successful projects.”

 “Having recently taken the time to put FirstSpirit under the microscope, I am excited to be moving forward with a vendor that really understands integration into 3rd party services, and is not just creating a fluffy connector and calling it integration,” states Stephen Medve, Client & Partner Development Manager at Falcon-Software. “In my opinion, this is where the market is heading, and I am very impressed that e-Spirit is listening.

Among FirstSpirit’s USPs are the outstanding integration capabilities and its consistent best-of-breed strategy: The CMS integrates seamlessly into complex system environments, enterprise portals – including SAP NetWeaver, IBM WebSphere, Microsoft SharePoint and Liferay – as well as other third-party solutions. The FirstSpirit AppCenter offers the unique possibility for the interface integration of virtually any web application directly into the CMS. FirstSpirit is a content integration platform meeting the highest demands for usability, performance and investment security.

e-Spirit’s FirstSpirit integration services will commence out of Victoria, BC with plans on a larger support team being established in the company’s Toronto, Ontario office by the Fall of 2014.

About e-Spirit

With EMEA & APAC headquarters in Dortmund, Germany and North American headquarters in Lexington, Massachusetts, e-Spirit (http://www.e-spirit.com) is the manufacturer of the FirstSpirit Content Management System. Well-known customers from all business sectors rely on FirstSpirit for implementing successful web strategies worldwide and for the creation, management and publication of content in highly diverse channels: Internet, intranet, extranet, mobile channels, web shops, PDF, email newsletters, portals, DTP, technical documentation, etc.

About Falcon-Software

With offices in Seattle, Dallas, Toronto and Victoria, Falcon-Software (http://www.falcon-software.com) is made up of a team of eBusiness specialists with very strong backgrounds in web development, information architecture and content management system solutions. Falcon-Software has applied a broad base of experience, technical knowledge, and business expertise in successfully deploying hundreds of commercial websites for clients worldwide since 1993. Falcon-Software offers a unique combination of deep technical expertise and creative thinking with a wealth of experience deploying web content management software solutions for Ektron, Elcom, e-Spirit, Kentico, SharePoint, Sitecore, and Sitefinity software, the worldwide leaders in web content management software.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Media Relations

250-480-1311

media@falcon-software.com

Marketing Automation: Don’t Get Left Behind in 2014

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 @ 03:12 PM
Author: Jade Carter

You’re going to hear it to death! If you’re anywhere near content marketing, you’re going to hear the term ‘marketing automation’ tossed around like a karaoke microphone at a ‘soaking wet’ office party. Everybody’s going to want a piece whether they have a clue how to use it in a sentence or not. But a word to the wise, get on board. Not just for the ride, but for the loads of extra leads that you’re going to bring in with the same amount of effort.

Marketing.Automator-1

Everybody’s Doing It

If they aren’t now, they will be. Marketing automation will make itself known in a big way in 2014. After all, it’s really just a smarter way of managing lead generation. While that is very general, and it can mean so much more depending on implementation, that’s essentially what it is. Why wouldn’t you want to almost instantly increase the efficiency of your lead generation machine? Sure, that’s an easy answer, however we also understand that the breadth of what marketing automation is capable of creates an intimidating proposition for newly indoctrinated marketers. There’s no need to dive into the deep end here. Start slow and simple and then develop and grow into what marketing automation should be doing for your specific endeavor.

Download our Marketing Automation Introductory Whitepaper

We understand that it could be a bit frightening (although no one will admit it right?), so we developed a concise and accessible whitepaper on the specifics of marketing automation. It’s a free download and we hope that it helps to clear up a few aspects of this great new marketer’s universe. Enjoy.

Download Whitepaper:

CMS-Connected Show on Marketing Automation

If you missed it, take a moment to listen to some smart dudes talking about marketing automation in the video below:

And, in case you missed it:
Download the Whitepaper:

We’ve posted about Responsive Web Design (RWD) before and develop it into all of our projects when budgets won’t allow for a standalone mobile site. With any new fad or technology, it’s up to the implementation to really let it perform. For instance if you mess up the grid hierarchy, then you’ll push lousy content to the top of the page when viewing on a mobile device. There’s no doubt that any new development must roll out with a mobile solution, with RWD at the low end and a stand alone development at the high end.

Responsive-Design-and-SEO

Google helped fuel the great RWD debate with a post and video by Matt Cutt’s, an engineer and the face behind search quality. In the video Matt let’s everyone know that responsive frameworks are just fine since they appropriately scale to the device in order to increase the experience of the visitor. Most importantly is that the URL is preserved.

Now, there was a stipulation regarding external mobile sites. When developing a mobile site (m. or sub-domain or whatever), you DO run the risk of cannibalizing PageRank (PR Splitting) across the 2 since the content is likely identical. Just ensure that you have specified the ‘Canonical URL’ back to the desktop page and you will be protected. Have a look for yourself:

 

  • Don’t lose sleep over the SEO implications of RWD
  • External sites have potential for a better overall mobile experience
  • Set the Canonical URL to the main domain/URL

 

Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.

-Excerpt from Google Developers portal

For the ultra nerds bounce over to the official Webmasters blog for the unplugged version of what Responsive is all about with a technical summary. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2012/04/responsive-design-harnessing-power-of.html

Detractors and Conspiracy Theorists

Matt isn’t going to describe in great detail how to rank your webpages, but he’s not going to lie to you either. If he says ‘don’t sweat it’, then move on and continue to develop high quality content for your niche or market. However, there are always going to be those headline grabbers that are looking for their 15 minutes. This fellow has pretty much spent the last year lambasting the responsive design framework. The comments are fun to read.

So with everyone and their dog pushing out responsive websites, sure, you’re going to see some less than stellar examples, but to spend every ounce of energy blasting the whole concept is a bit rich.

We love RWD and we do it well. Let us know if you need us to take a quick look at what you have!

Cheers!

 

Top 10 Reasons to Reject an RFP Revisited

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 @ 03:11 PM
Author: Jade Carter

In September, 2010, Gary wrote about this topic and since then, the page has still managed to attract the attention of internet searches. It’s one of our best posts to date. I thought we should reprint the post and see what else we could add to the discussion.

10 Reasons to Reject an RFP

Back then we had just rejected a Request for Proposal (RFP) that landed on our desk from a government organization. Generally these types of requests are very welcomed and are, for the most part, very well developed and come with a healthy and openly declared budget. The value of this project would have, most definitely been north of 6 digits. So why on Earth would we reject an RFP with that sort of monetary potential? That doesn’t seem like good business doesn’t it? Taking a step back; receiving RFP’s is what sustains us as a website development company. We don’t reject proposals on a whim and have a very focused methodology that we follow when accepting or rejecting an RFP. On average we deliver responses to about 85% of the requests. The other 15% get tossed. Unfortunately many are from government sources and they all fail to recognize the significant time commitment and resources required to deliver an industry leading RFP response. For example, demands for a one week turnaround with a 3-month development timeline for a $100,000 project is a huge red flag. This may set a precedence towards them generally behaving in an unrealistic manner with inappropriate expectations. We always get a chuckle when we see “10 pages or less using Arial font”, just before they get immediately rejected. “No Response For You!”

FREE WHITEPAPER: How to Select a CMS Development Partner

If you just read that paragraph and are nodding your head in approval based on ‘experience’, well you know what we mean. If you haven’t had the misfortune of being burdened with unrealistic timelines and scope, well read on. We will save you $10,000′s of dollars in the long run!

#10. Requesting Multiple Print Versions

Okay, this is just laughable. However, this isn’t a deal breaker for the project; of course. This just places needless costs and wastes resources on the responders end. Everything from Ink, paper and courier charges all land on the shoulders of the development company. Mailing hard copy printouts in 2013 is a ridiculous and disconnected request. Especially from government agencies where limiting consumption and environmental stewardship should be paramount. We recently fielded an RFP with a demand for 3 printed copies of a 60 page response. Really?! Are your printers broken? Are there no Kinko’s or Staples in your area? This is borderline disrespectful.

#9. Requests for Company Financials

Easy one; No. As a privately owned incorporation, our financial statements will never accompany an RFP response. Discussion over. Okay, that’s a pretty hard line but really, we understand coherently, the need to vet the financial sustainability of a prospective development partner. One stand out event comes to mind when a purchasing agent requested company financials covering the last 3 years. The response: “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine”, at which point the agent said, “no worries, we’ll strike that from the requirements”. This is a good example of how asking questions or communicating well can work in your favor. We will take every opportunity to find a solution, but unless we are satisfied, they will end up on the reject pile.

#8. Boilerplate Matrix Questions

If you don’t know what this is, consider yourself blessed. If you do, you ‘get it’. These ‘matrices’ are, in our opinion, entirely unnecessary and are generally at the behest of an agency which has been hired to oversee the selection process. We have seen a high number of these, most of which are virtually identical and show a real disconnection to the project. For instance including a plethora of requests related to commerce features on multilingual and globalization features on a project that will only promote to English speaking, United States citizens. We find that logistically, the RFP is delivered into the project life-cycle far too early and the client should have committed to a much more intensive due-diligence exercise prior to the RFP handout. Additionally, these questionnaires which can reach 70 pages in length, relate specifically to the 3rd party software vendors’ capabilities and so we find ourselves managing this whole process with the vendor(s) as well. Also, we find that while the vendors feel their solutions positively meet all of the criteria, in actual fact, there can be a great deal of costly customization involved. “Will that VW reach 200MPH? Of course, it just needs some minor modifications, such as a completely new motor, chassis, axles, differentials, fuel system, etc…” :)

#7. Complex Solutions to be Proposed in 10 Pages or Less

We pointed this out early on. Heed our advice here: do not place your most neurotic, control freak as the project lead for your RFP process. We will just toss your proposal. “Please provide a complete, technical document detailing your plan to develop our complex requirements on 10 pages or less using verdana 11pt with 10mm margins delivered by courier wearing a green shirt and red bow tie!” Okay, taking some liberties there, but really?! We managed to deliver a 15 pager once accompanied by some appendices. This is the best we could do. 10 pages would make a good ballpark estimate but is entirely unrealistic for a complex website development implementation plan complete with detailed cost analysis.

#6. Unconfirmed Budgets

This may hit close to home for some clients, but really, it needs to be asked. Even a range can help determine the true commitment from an RFP. We consistently bid up towards $80,000 to $100,000 for large projects. We need to know if the prospect is looking for a $25,000 solution at which point we can politely decline the invitation. There’s nothing more unnerving than hearing ‘we don’t have a confirmed budget’ or ‘we can’t disclose our budget’. The first excuse means that they shouldn’t even be at this stage! They are generally unclear as to their direction and we will find a great deal of scope creep during the development. We have bid on projects where clients have been vague with their requirements only to see the true cost double once we work them through the entire project discovery and scope. It won’t be the last time either. It’s a sign of respect on the part of the client to at least disclose a range in order to factor in our time and expectations since we won’t bid on anything below a certain range.

#5. Unreasonable Timelines

Number 5 is a pretty big deal and just comes down to lack of experience or strait up ignorance about what an enterprise CMS development project consists of. Hard launch dates on complex web projects will usually result in catastrophic doom. We just don’t get why this still shows up in high end RFP’s. It’s reasonable to implement a deadline for smaller, phased projects, micro campaigns or whatnot. But for the entire, all encompassing web project, this is an unnecessary lesson in stress management. Mind you, we’re not condoning an open ended, no timeline strategy either. We must have tangible and attainable delivery goals which are only reasonable once the development company has had the opportunity to take a holistic look at the project requirements in order to determine what a realistic timeline should look like. No client should dictate this. And again, if the client is unwilling to develop a mutually workable solution, this is a red flag for behaviour and we will remove ourselves from the process at that point. Intelligently run projects include contingencies in case of scope creep, technology glitches, zombie apocalypse, miscommunications or any number of possible scenarios that could delay a project. We have always felt that the best companion to an Agile Methodology are milestone deadlines; attainable short term goals. They keep morale up and provide several ‘successes’ during the project life-cycle. It’s crucial to keep the project moving; this includes the client and developers. Enforcing end-game deadlines only encourages the likelihood of calamitous bugs and hasty quality control sequences.

#4. Lack of Communication

This is a good sign of things to come if you are having difficulty reaching your point of contact (POC) at the company. Remarkably, many large government RFP’s reject direct contact during the process citing an unfair advantage. We find that this is more a case of pretentious laziness. As stated earlier, most clients are processing the RFP phase way to early in their development and should have undergone a much more rigorous due diligence exercise before sending out an RFP to vendors that likely have no reason to be involved. Roadblocking communication shuts off a healthy channel of dialogue that will provide insight into the vendors attention to detail and willingness to ask questions. Vendors that do not ask questions should be flagged. A personal issue that we have is when we ask intelligent questions to the client only to have them broadcast our conversation to the entire bidding community! We think this is a strategic skill and shouldn’t be shared. Oh well, we have often been on the receiving end of some quality QA sessions as well. We find the source of a failed project leads back to poor communication, so displaying this early is a huge red flag. Why would a company steamroll communication during the vendor selection process?!

#3. Vague and Incomplete Requirements

Development firms like ours have seen hundreds of RFP’s. Clients, building out a new website presence likely produces one. Therefore we can spot a problem client from a mile away! RFP’s that are incomplete or include vague requirements demonstrate the client’s lack of preparation and can foreshadow a long and problematic business relationship. Indecision is death for a project. Again, in this case we would possibly reach out to the client and ask them if this ambiguity is by design or just an ill conceived RFP. At that point we will swiftly decline the invitation. On rare occasions, clients are sussing out the high level communication and capabilities of the vendors in order to proceed to a phase 2 selection process where a great deal more details will be provided. Be sure to take one stab at asking questions before moving on.

#2. Fixed Price Quotes

Another one of our deal breaker policies is to refrain from bidding on complex projects with fixed pricing attached. In rare occasions we may bid on a project with our best CMS so long as the requirements are solid and the communication lines are open, friendly and succinct. However, this is very rare and we don’t subscribe to the popular tactic of building in massive contingency or doubling quotes just to make up for a fixed price strategy. We pride ourselves in our ability to accurately estimate a project within 10% of the final price. Clients are under the mistaken impression that fixed prices are efficient and will save them money; it doesn’t. Fixed prices inflate project bids and if there are delays and scope creep the vendor will hasten production putting quality control and the stability of the project at risk. It’s just not worth it.

#1. Open (Free For All) Bids

Yay! Finally our #1 reason for rejecting an RFP is: You guessed it, Open Bids. Open bids are a virus affecting most government and municipal software development procurement processes. It’s just plain nasty. Why would you possibly open up this process to hundreds of vendors knowing full well that you will need to vet each and every one of them. From our experience we have found that open bid winners usually have an inside connection and the fix is in before it’s even started. It’s a colossal waste of our time (unless we have an inside connection, heh).

Did we miss anything?

Have any of your own horror stories? Did we miss any glaringly obvious reasons? Please share your thoughts below and pass this around. You may just save someone dozens of hours working an RFP that they have no reason to be bidding on. :)

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