Recently, I spoke with a buyer who was about to conduct an RFI for a VMS solution. What was of concern to me was that one of the initiatives of the RFI was to support a business case to take to executive stakeholders for approval of strategy and funding. At this stage, executive support and sponsorship should be a given.

Using the RFI as a means to secure support causes the company to miss the opportunity to develop an RFI aimed at delivering against the various (and often conflicting) needs of the executive stakeholder group. In fact, it’s not just about the executive group. The input of various groups in the company should be also taken into consideration. It is in this process that you build an executive stakeholder team.

It is best to engage stakeholders and listen to their voice right at the outset and engage them throughout the buying process when looking at any contingent workforce strategy.

This stakeholder team can be split up into four groups, each of which will have its own unique needs and ultimately influence the chosen strategy, appointment of successful bidder(s) and then the delivery of the ongoing service provision. Here are some points to consider.

1. You should engage all stakeholders in setting the standards required by your organization. These may involve people from procurement, who are interested in cost and efficiency benefits; HR, who may be interested in the overall workforce mix and how your eventual program will ensure compliance against internal requirements; legal, who will be involved in the eventual contractual agreement with its various compliant requirements; and IT, who will be interested in understanding how any technology used as part of the service provision will either integrate or form part of your company’s future IT roadmap.

2. Canvas the voice of those individuals who will be immersed in the delivery of the eventual service once contracts are signed. These people will live and breathe whatever strategy is rolled out and will have a different perspective from those individuals who, once the contract is signed, can largely refocus on other corporate initiatives. These people may include hiring managers, business managers, country managers, existing talent acquisition teams and so on.

3. It is wise to have on board a number of individuals that support your overall aims and objectives. These people should be well respected within the organization and willing to invest time and effort in supporting the RFI/RFP process.

4. It is important that you identify the individual who is ultimately responsible for saying “Yes.” At some point, your chosen strategy will need to be approved and signed off for award and implementation. Once again, it is important that this person (and it is generally an individual rather than a group of people) is on board right from the very start. Once these key individuals are identified (and be prepared to consult additional people as your ideas develop), you will need to canvas their thoughts, understand how their needs differ and how they might be met in order to achieve your overall corporate objectives.

I would refer you to my previous article, “Consulting with stakeholders: Avoid the herd mentality,” for an excellent way to do this. One method that I would recommend using to capture this potentially complex voice is the House of Quality. This is a great way of capturing the overall strategic needs of the business together with the individual needs of your wider stakeholder group and then coming up with a data-driven picture of what your eventual solution needs to deliver in order to keep most of them (if not all of them), happy.

The voice of this stakeholder group can then be used from RFI, through RFP, contractual negotiations and eventual appointment of your chosen partner(s) while keeping the stakeholder groups involved and informed throughout the process.

Nothing is ever seamless. However, engaging with this wider executive sponsorship group right from start, listening to and working with them throughout, is the best recipe of ensuring eventual success.

If you would like to discuss any of these methods in more detail please contact me at the email address listed below.