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July 2019
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Is your RFP fit for purpose..?

In our experience only 1 in 50 RFPs (Requests for Pricing) in the network and applications technology space calls specifically for performance testing to be part of the package. The rest focuses attention in detailing the product requirements, which will only answers the questions -What does your device do? and -What is its functionality?, not -Will it work with my network requirements?

Some RFP’s call for a Performance matrix and on occasions this extends to asking -how much traffic can the device or application handle? However, without independent real world verification (performance testing) in the context of a network’s/application particular traffic types and mix, how can a direct comparison be made? How are your technical people expected to differentiate between new technologies’s of which they have little or no practical experience? What is the difference between the latest technology switch priced at £12k and a switch available at £2k, with similar functionality? More importantly how will you understand the comparative performance in the live network/application environment?

Often purchasing professionals shy away from what they consider the additional expense of performance testing, perhaps they rely on traditional negotiation skills and trust engineers to make the appropriate selection of technology and location. Contrast this with decisions based around real test results where the risk of failure is reduced. Your ability to negotiate is increased through a thorough understanding of the requirements, and it’s not uncommon for post test prices to fall 20%! Add your ability to select the right technology for the right place in your network and the direct savings could outstrip the investment 50 fold.

Why don’t more buyers include test as part of the selection programs? Is it because they don’t realise the huge potential for savings? Or perhaps they don’t know where to start?

We know from our work with West Country Universities, a very large Services Information provider, and many others who do independently test what they want to put into practice, that the outcome of adding -Independent Testing to an RFP is worth a reduction in overall bid prices of up to 20%, that equates to £1m on a £5m project! By testing and selecting the right switch for the right application the Service Information provider for example, stands to save £8m a year! Year on Year! As well as avoiding embarrassing in-service failures.

As buyers becomes better educated and informed through understanding the impact of the test results, essential RFP inclusions like ‘ensure solutions are tested pre deployment’, can be included and contractual negotiations can then be based on facts and evidence of performance .

Where to start, is simple to us, but not perhaps to the commercial buyers. Spirent provide testing methodologies appropriate to switches, routers, server load balancers, firewalls, web applications, database services, application servers, WAN acceleration and applications so that at the very least their suppliers will have to carry out contextual testing as part of their submission rather than guessing best performance. If the contract is of a significant value they might want to complete this testing independently. The cost of testing is around 1 to 2% of the value of most midsize projects, the cost of not testing is a great deal bigger than that.

For More Information Contact:
Kate Innes ZonicGroup

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