Real Story: Example Narrative for Your RFP

Welcome to RSG's latest "Real Story" case study about technology selection.

The Case for Use Cases

Not long ago, I was reading a vendor's response to an RFP in which some 200 or so requirements had been enumerated by the customer. The vendor's response to the majority of the 200 challenges was "Our solution natively provides this capability." That phrase occurred over and over. (Someone did an awful lot of cut and paste.)

How do you avoid this type of situation? Well, for starters, don't phrase things along the lines of "Do you support XYZ functionality?" unless you want to hear (over and over again) "Yes we can." 

Instead, apply real use cases. Well-considered narratives bring clarity to the selection process by putting the focus on real-world user needs and business priorities. What does a user story narrative look like? Here’s a excerpted example from a digital asset management tender we helped a client craft.

Sample Story Narrative

Martha Marketing logs into the DAM system and sees a folder hierarchy, organized by product line; each product line contains subfolders with appropriate images or collateral. Each day, she uploads any new product photos and puts them into the appropriate directory. The system adds basic metadata to each, describing when it was uploaded, along with other basic file information.

User Narrative

When Martha works on an image, she adds a description to each image, and from the set of drop-down menus, she selects different available resolutions for renditioning and makes multiple selections to indicate in which product groups it belongs.

Don Distributor logs on to the DAM system via a web browser, but he can see only those folders for the product line that he sells and only the photos and collateral within those folders. Dan selects and drags all the product images and collateral he needs to a collection cart. When ready, he downloads all of them via a single ZIP file. Since he needs a special image, Don runs a query to see if the system has it. He finds what he’s looking for and (with suitable permissions) downloads it.

Don then creates new images using the built-in transformation tool, selecting the proper parameters or image name from a list, and the system generates a new image of that size, which he downloads to his desktop.

When a subsequent search yields nothing, Don sends a request through the system to Martha for a special rendition of the image.

On Friday afternoon, Martha runs a weekly report to see which images have been used most, and to see which distributors are using the system and which are not, telling her which products the distributors are promoting most frequently.

What You've Communicated

With this use case, you have communicated several key points to the DAM vendor:

  • You want to be more efficient in serving your distributors’ marketing needs.
  • You want to empower the distributors with a self-service collateral distribution system.
  • You care about security and want the system to help control access to images.
  • You want to free up Martha’s time so that she can work more effectively with the distributors.
  • You want reporting that gives you real business insight into asset usage. But best of all, instead of listing all those as line-item “requirements,” you get to see them in action by simulating real live actors in any future system.

Use cases provide a much richer way of describing your needs and connecting them to business benefits. 

Tip: Also consider that user narratives can become acceptance tests later on, if you write them with that in mind.

Final Advice

Each of RSG's research streams includes sample scenarios for that particular technology.

For more selection tips and hard-hitting evaluations designed to help you select the right technology, start by downloading a complimentary vendor evaluation from one of our many research streams.


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