Here's the latest in RSG's series of technology selection case studies. Today I'll share what happened when an RSG subscriber wanted to vet a community-based open source platform.
Open source technology platforms have long offered plausible alternatives to commercial solutions, especially for developer-intensive toolsets. The challenge is that with some community-oriented open source projects, there may not be a single “vendor” to receive and respond to an RFP.
The Media Company Looking for a CMS
We once helped a media company that wanted to consider a community open source Web CMS package alongside commercial competitors. Initially, some internal developers proposed serving as a kind of “red team” to participate on behalf of the open source option in the selection process. We counseled against this as problematic, since the internal team would be biased, and wouldn't have the time or expertise to provide written answers and build prototypes.
Instead, we found a plausible systems integration firm that specialized in that open source platform, and they responded to the RFP. To be sure, this meant accommodating a somewhat different approach and pricing model, but in the end, the customer got a strong and fair representation of what that package could do.
Lesson #1: Remain open to alternate vendor business models and be creative around finding the right firm to bid on behalf of a particular technology.
Lesson #2: Don't split your internal team to advocate for different solutions; have the entire selection team vet all short-listed vendors.