VicRoads has implemented uniform licensing laws across the state on time and under budget, thanks to taking a new approach to its vendor tendering process.
VicRoads RandL program director, Dr Ian Rodgers, spoke candidly on the process during the Technology Partners conference in Sydney. He said interactive vendor engagement (IVE) helped build a “more accessible, accountable and efficient” licensing and registration system that replaced the registration and licencing systems for VicRoads, Marine Safety Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
“The process is pretty simple: You sit down and discuss your requirements with a number of vendors. When they get the RFT, they have an idea of what you’re requirements are,” Rodgers said.
Dr Rodgers said the anonymous process is a new way to engage vendors and could be used by CIOs working on projects with a large cost attached to them.
“Having gone through the process, I have to say it’s a no-brainer. IVE is absolutely an asset to the process. It’s a complex process that takes a lot longer to do, and engages the vendor for a lot longer. Is it suitable for every IT project? No. It’s not suitable for small IT projects. Projects around $15-$20 million in size are the ones you would want to do it for,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers discussed how a tight budget was one catalyst to taking an IVE approach as the Victorian government was hesitant to hand out funds after the Victorian bushfires and the GFC. Using IVE would ensure budget blowouts would not occur. He also recommended CIOs ask vendors to use tendered prices rather than estimates.
“The Victorian government placed funding for project into a trust and gave the RandL project a small amount of this. We then had to come back and confirm the project scope and cost. What they were saying to me was ‘IT doesn’t have a good track record’.
“Do away with the costing estimates [and replace them] with actual tendered prices,” he said.
Rodgers had several tips for CIOs looking to use IVE when implementing projects.
“Surround yourself with good people. You don’t know the answers to everything but you can surround yourself with people that know what they’re doing,” he said.
The team also used a report card system during the tender process in order to evaluate each tender.
“You’ve given us a tendered response and we’re going to give you an opportunity to develop the areas where we believe you’ve missed the point. Each vendor got a report card,” he said.
“It was not our intention for [vendors] to go back and re-write their tender. It was a process of going back and seeing what worked and what didn’t.
There are three things to focus on during the process, he said: Bid to spec, bid to spec, bid to spec.
“You also want to be able to get rid of the assumptions people have around the whole process.”
Rodgers concluded by warning vendors of what not to do in the IVE process.
“We are very serious about getting price stability – don’t play games with us. We’re going t evaluate your design because cabinet want to ensure it will come in on budget. Sounds a bit harsh you think? It probably is.”