The decision to initiate a procurement process can be based on a seemingly routine trigger, such as the expiration date for a maintenance and operations contract, or something as daunting as realizing your program needs to find a more cost-effective alternative to your current IIS software. While these two scenarios are certainly different in scale, even renewing a contract can be surprisingly complex and time-consuming, and may require more lead time than you might expect.
IIS platform migrations are complex and resource-intensive undertakings, which can take several years to accomplish, so the decision to solicit bids for a new IIS must be carefully considered. Short term frustrations with your current system or current vendor/developer may be overcome without jumping ahead to a wholescale IIS platform change. That said, poor response time for support and process inefficiencies necessitated by an outdated or poorly maintained system should not be ignored.
When considering a platform migration, your plans must factor in the need to maintain support for the current system and users while also implementing significant changes in technology and workflows. For an overview of the IIS platform migration process and factors critical to the success of a migration, see the downloadable IIS Platform Migration Primer below.
A note about requests for information (RFI)
A RFI is a means to collect information on the capabilities or services of suppliers, contractors and vendors. It is primarily used when not enough information is known about available options to craft a meaningful solicitation document, so this step would occur before developing and releasing a solicitation document. RFIs are not used much in IIS procurement because the pool of vendor and software products is well known. Questions to consider when determining whether to use an RFI include:
Tips for successful planning:
- Information system-related procurements, whether acquiring software or creating/renewing services and maintenance contracts, generally require more lead time. Start early and get to know all the procurement phases, steps, timelines and templates you will need to work with.
- Be proactive in forming the relationships you will need to move your procurement project through all phases. These may include central procurement, central IT, legal, your executive office and others.
- Assembling the right team and selecting the optimal procurement method available to you are critical procurement planning steps.
- Use a request for information if you need to collect information on the capabilities, services or costs of suppliers, contractors or vendors.
- Having documented and precise system requirements and/or clearly defined contractor services early on can save time in the later procurement phases.
- Understand the available options; select the optimal procurement method to meet your needs.
- Is there information we want from prospective bidders/IIS vendors before we prepare and release a solicitation document?
- If so, can that information be more efficiently obtained through other means, such as vendor websites, software demos, canvassing other jurisdictions, etc.?
- Is there a template for an RFI that we must use?
- Who needs to be involved in drafting an RFI?
- What are the policies and rules that govern requests for information?
- Who is authorized to respond to questions?
- Must responses be made available to all interested parties? Published?
- Who has final approval authority for the RFI?
The first question to ask is whether other, simpler means exist to gather the information you want to learn. Consider that there are very few IIS platforms and modules available on the market today, most products have test environments or demos available, and more systems are gaining experience with vendor or cloud hosting of IIS. Given this IIS environment, more efficient ways to gather preliminary information are likely available to you: for example, phone calls, surveys, interviews with other programs, or direct support from organizations like CDC and AIRA.
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