Think of a Bakeoff technology comparison process in which two or more competing technologies from multiple vendors are compared and tested by a company to help it choose the right product or service.
At first glance, bakeoffs look a lot like proofs of concept and pilot tests, but bakeoffs are markedly different.
They are different in that competing technologies are actually placed in a customized, simulated production environment that includes the direct participation of the buyer’s own employees and their IT group. The cooking environment uses the company’s own business processes and systems. The goal is to put each vendor system through rigorous simulation in the enterprise environment and determine which solution fits and works best.
Tech vendors like to avoid bakelites if they can. One reason is that firings require significant time and personnel commitments from the vendor to support them.
Since every solution is actually field tested in a simulated production environment and pitted against at least one other solution, a buyer’s award of a contract goes far beyond just the highest RFP ranking. It’s even better than getting a little proof of concept.
Due to the time and personnel suppliers have to commit to firings, not all purchasing companies can order one. Typically, companies favored by bakeoffs are very large companies looking to sign large and lucrative deals, or smaller companies that a supplier is trying to attract as they begin to build and establish their customer base. .
How Buyers Benefit from Bakeoffs
Bakeoffs allow companies to road test a new product in their real work environment, with their users and IT department putting the tires to the test and putting the product through its paces. It’s a chance to learn the pros and cons of the product in their own environment. This gives the company valuable experience if they choose to purchase and implement the product. The bakeoff also gives them a head start on business systems and processes they might want to revise when a pre-production product is finally introduced.
During the cooking process, buyers get to know the supplier and understand what kind of supplier support that they are likely to receive if they register for the product. By getting to know both the seller and the product up close and before a final decision is made, the buyer reduces the risk of making the wrong choice.
The downside, of course, is that it takes a commitment of resources from business users and IT to facilitate the bakeoff.
Depending on the product being tested, parboiling can take from several days to two weeks. Sometimes cooks took longer, but this should be avoided as much as possible. Bakeoffs should also be limited to critical systems.
Once the fine-tuning is complete, IT and end users come together to evaluate and come up with a final vendor selection.
Best Baking Ingredients
Bakeoffs can be very effective in that they can minimize the risk of choosing the wrong solution or underestimating an implementation. However, they only work if they are carefully planned, if the products under review are carefully assessed against business and IT goals, and if everyone (users, IT and vendors) is fully engaged in the process. .
Here are four key ingredients for optimal bakeoff success:
- Fully explain in your business case the results you want to achieve. Companies asking potential vendors to participate in a Bakeoff must have a clearly defined business case or reason for wanting the product evaluated, as well as a list of desired performance metrics that each tested solution is expected to meet or exceed. These measures must be measurable and objective. From the outset, participating suppliers and internal staff should fully understand the business objectives and performance levels that must be achieved.
- Dedicate a full-time bakeoff team to the project. Bakeoffs take time and require an investment in staff. When bakeouts are performed, the bakeout team, consisting of both supplier and company personnel, should be dedicated full time to the bakeout until it is complete.
- Train and prepare your bakeoff team. Many participants, especially within companies, will be new to the concept of a bakeoff. When initiating a bakeoff, project members should be fully briefed on what to expect during a bakeoff, details such as the identity of the project manager. Lines of communication with participating vendors should be clear and open, and interactions between vendors and company personnel should occur daily throughout the bake.
- Limit your suppliers. Bakeoffs should only be done after you have passed a request for proposals (RFP) and other preliminary evaluation processes to narrow down your choice of vendors. Typically, a bakeout involves only two products or suppliers, which are then compared to each other under actual operating conditions. The company must be serious about both products, but would like one last substantive test before making their final choice.