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RFP Response Content Management System

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000228901D
Publication Date: 2013-Jul-11
Document File: 7 page(s) / 326K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is an RFP Response Content Management System (CMS) having two components: an editor interface for the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that own the content for each product, and a browsing interface for field personnel to find answers.

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RFP Response Content Management System

Middleware software products are both broad and deep in scope. How organizations use middleware in IT deployments varies significantly depending on dozens of factors, for example: regulatory requirements, industry-specific usage patterns, geographic considerations, and size of the organization. Since each organization has unique requirements, and middleware tends to be complex and highly customizable, the procurement of middleware is often initiated through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The customer compiles a list of requirements in the form of questions that must then be answered by the vendor .

In the Information Management brand of the IBM Software Group Division , sales people often deal with customer RFPs with hundreds of questions. Complicating matters, these RFPs frequently include questions involving multiple products.

The predominant approach used by sellers to complete RFPs normally involves individuals or small teams of sellers maintaining a repository of recently completed RFPs, and then searching through those documents to find existing text for answers to the questions. This is extremely inefficient, both in terms of the time required to sift through all the documents , and in terms of quality, as there is no process to ensure accuracy. Because of the complexity of many middleware products, the deep expertise required to answer many questions is not widespread. As a result, subject matter experts (SMEs) are inundated with repeated types of questions. Worse, this results in the inadequate completion of RFPs because of an outdated answer that SMEs did not validate . This type of approach also leads to answers that do not compare well to the RFP answers from competing products . Many questions in RFPs come from competitors, and taken at face value where the competitive context is ignored, an answer could make one company's product wrongly appear inferior. Since most field personnel do not have deep competitive insight, an inadequate answer is normally given.

One current method to meet the challenges presented with responding to an RFP is an RFP document management solution involving a database of questions and answers, where there is centralized control over the content, and users can query the database for standard text for RFP answers. This kind of system is limited to complex sets of questions, where queries based on

text search tend not to be practical. Repositories for Information Management products include tens of thousands of question/answer pairs, and most text searches yield hundreds of results, making it difficult for field personnel to find the information they need. Moreover, in the case of RFP questions with competitive implications, this solution of a repository with querying capabilities does not help field personnel. Finally, this database-driven solution is difficult to deploy for an international sales force,

where field personnel use a wide variety of...