Redefining the Tender process

User Experience research
User Interface design

In the Netherlands alone, every year we spend 2 billion euros on tenders. Writing them, maintaining them, and applying for them is a tedious, slow and complicated process that involves countles of legal requirements. Tenderflow is done with this shit and decided to battle the complexity. But the question is, where does all this complexity come from?

Their
question

How do people currently scout for opportunities? what kind of information do they require to make a clear call on whether to persue an assignment or not? Help us figure out the complexities of the tender process.

Our
answer

We offered a part-time User Experience researcher and a full-time Interface designer to take lead in conceptualising the Minimal Lovable Product that is needed to tackle the complexities of the Tender landscape. This is what we found.

Explore

In order to figure out how the tender market works we needed to understand how others perceive the market. So we went undercover.

Scheduling interviews was the easy part. A ton of tender consultants believe that the market is in a rough state and could benefit from an optimization, within no time we were able to schedule roughly 20 interviews to get us started. We recorded each session and noticed that many of the struggles they shared with us were not being effectively targeted by competitors. This made us wonder; why?

We decided to go undercover, with our best intentions and poker faces we decided to request multiple demo’s from vendors within the tender market. Of course, they were more than happy to show us what they believed to be the problems that needed to be solved. Funny enough, whenever we asked about optimizing the tender process and bureaucracy they shared that this is almost an impossible task.

The endless regulations and laws are keeping them from venturing into redefining how the tender process should work. But it made us believe that no one has had the guts yet to sit down with a legal advisor and make it work. A great opportunity for us to invite one and numb our brains with all possible edge cases.

Dissect

The amount of information that we collected during the research phase was insane and created a huge mess!

Every time a team does research, it is overwhelmed with the amount of information that it will uncover. We ended up with hundreds of pages of notes, 40 audiosamples, and a bunch of video recordings. Now it was time to pull everything apart and analyze it bit by bit. And that is what we did.

In about two weeks time we did a topic cluster workshop, pains & needs overview, emotional analysis, and a pain to fame estimation. All these things together resulted in a few very specific insights. It laid the foundation for the persona’s, the omni-channel customer journey map, and the opportunity map.

But of course, even after mapping everything out, it is still not actionable untill everyone involved in the project has a firm understanding of where we are at. So at the end of this phase we took the time to teach teams of up to 4 people about everything that we had discovered and how it will influence the coming time.

Ideate

Oh boy! This is one of the most fun things within the product lifecycle. Beating crazy hard problems with simple solutions.

After the first round of research and analysis, this is where any designer, developer, or business strategist gets their high. During the ideation phase we collect all the information that we have, put people together in one room, lock the doors and sketch until we can not sketch any further.

Using different methodologies we are able to generate hundreds of ideas within hours and openly vote for the best ideas in the room without neglecting anyone. The power of democracy is well present in the techniques that we utilize to design the right sollution to the problems at hand.

In this case we spend one week, doing a full design sprint that got us from thoughts to a paper prototype, completely validated. The insights out of the validation went straight to our research and design backlog. The techies also had a rough understanding of where we would go to, so their backlog filled up with items to help them prepare for the design work that would be done in the weeks after.

Develop

Alright, let’s look back. We researched, analysed our input, and know what we want to build. Time to build it.

Once you know what you want to build, there are a few key scenarios that you need to keep in mind. First of, you are designing a first version of your product, which means, you are going to find many more loose ends down the road. And that’s a good thing. Every product is supposed to fail as fast as possible.

Failure means learning, and therefore we take it as great importance to allow for an open fail-safe working environment. At this stage things like continous delivery, and continuous innovation come and play a role. That’s why we decided to help Tenderflow design their product and coach them on how to keep improving.

Sharing knowledge is a loose end that is present in many assignments that we come across. Often clients find themselves stuck with products because their suppliers handed them a working copy of something that doesn’t adapt to their working environment. At Square One, we think that sharing knowledge is a must-have as part of the assignment.

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