Good sense and demonstrable results make a winning proposal

Things have significantly changed since the recession affected companies’ budgets and made them re-think their needs and priorities – something IT consultancies have to take into consideration when proposing their services. ITIL, once a priority within many corporate IT strategies and individual’s personal development plans, is no longer regarded in quite the same way.

‘ITIL is dead’ and other similar statements have been circulated in past months within the IT press. But this is not exactly the case: it’s not that ITIL is dead – there’s plenty left in it yet; it’s simply that ITIL is now ubiquitous within IT and everyone’s had as much as they can take of ‘ITIL this’ and ‘ITIL that’.

IT Managers now want sensible solutions to their IT problems, where value can be demonstrated and which are based on sound thinking and good old common sense.

ITIL is therefore still important; it’s simply not the whole of the answer anymore.

When contributing to customer proposals, I’m finding it difficult to write lines such as ‘support the needs of your business’ or ‘align with best-practice’. These rather out-of-date terms no longer need to be said. After all, who would buy IT services that weren’t these things?

With a growth in global IT spending this year predicted by analysts such as Gartner and Forrester, IT consultancies have to really think about what to offer clients. The rest of this year and the next will see an increase in companies buying IT consulting services, which together with software and system integration services are expected to account for 44% of the global IT market.

But if we’re not paying homage to ITIL anymore, what is it that needs to be said when pitching for IT services work? The answer is quite simple, though it does require credible and demonstrable qualities from those submitting their proposals.

The problem or requirement needs to be fully understood, preferably backed with supporting data that is undisputed. The solution proposed has to make good sense and be achievable, and the cost of the exercise must clearly demonstrate value to the customer.

As a result, it is likely that IT services companies will need to invest more time in the requirement, supported with sound data analysis, ahead of writing the proposal. This does mean a greater willingness to invest time before formally engaging with the customer, but, following this, they will have written a proposal which is specifically focused on what will be done (without all the gushing marketing speak).

If compared with proposals from a few years ago, it will lack the blurb and clichés that we’ve all endured for so long and will be clear, detailed and relevant. Of course, this does mean that businesses needing help need to be a little more forthcoming with providing data, and even access to the business, ahead of receiving any proposal.

They will also need to avoid unnecessarily ‘playing the field’ with IT consultancies, because, by investing a greater amount of unpaid work ahead of submitting a proposal, consultancies will be less inclined to continue in their efforts for no return. But the outcome of this fresher approach will be far more useful than has been experienced previously.

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Jon Reeve is Principal Consultant at Plan-Net. A former aerospace engineer, he started his career in IT 20 years ago, gaining experience in both technical and service management roles before moving into consultancy. The all-encompassing vision Jon acquired thanks to his work experience has brought benefits to companies of all sizes and sectors, enabling them to complete their IT projects successfully.