ARTS Streamlines Proposal Process
By Bill Bittner, President, BWH Consulting
The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) is the National Retail Federation’s Technology Standards group. Probably one of the most underutilized tools retailers have for making an information technology investment are the ARTS request for proposal (RFP) Templates.
Hopefully, you are not constantly changing your business processes, so both small and large IT projects can be one-time events for the participants. Whatever the project, the first six months will probably determine your overall success. This is when the enthusiasm is greatest and neither users nor IT have discovered just how difficult it is going to be complete the project. This is exactly when you can use the ARTS RFPs because they serve to jump start the whole process, level set the team as to what must be done and allow management to keep the size of the project within their intended scope.
ARTS is conducting several presentations at the NRF Show in New York to raise awareness and announce new RFPs for additional functional areas. There are currently RFPs for POS requirements, POS loss prevention, signature capture, workforce management and price life cycle optimization. Each RFP consists of a master agreement portion that describes the participants and overall RFP process, and a features and functions portion that describes the various characteristics considered for a particular functional area. The number of features captured ranges from 135 to 2500 for the various RFPs.
Two consulting firms shared the dais with the ARTS presenters.
Frank Urbaniak of C-Core Retail Consulting presented their Rapid Project Toolkit, which extends the ARTS RFP to include the additional project aspects associated with scope definition, vendor selections and actual project management. A toolkit is currently available for the POS Requirements RFP and others are in development.
Dennis Blankenship of Clicks & Mortar Consulting presented the Superior-hosted RFP process. The Superior approach follows six steps: authoring, publishing, vendor collaboration,
vendor submission, scoring, and terms of purchase to make the vendor selection. The whole process is conducted online, with initial content coming from the ARTS RFP and then extended
through dialogues between the retailer and the vendors and recorded online.
Moderator’s Comment: What are some of the barriers to kicking off a major IT project? Do you think it makes sense to use an industry RFP as the starting
point for a project? Are you familiar with the ARTS RFPs? If you have used the RFPs, what has been your experience?
I believe this concept makes so much sense I don’t understand why more people don’t take advantage of it. Just like writing a term paper, looking at that
blank page when you begin an IT project can be paralyzing. The use of the RFPs is essential. Their design makes them easily customized and the extensions offered by firms like
C-Core make them even more user friendly. Actually combining the ARTS features with the C-Core extensions and the Superior RFP management tools provides a huge edge to getting
a new project underway. –
Bill Bittner – Moderator