An example of “exceeding the RFP requirement”

I thought I had told this complete story before, but it looks like I only hinted at it in bits and pieces. Let me bring those bits and pieces together, telling how one biometric vendor “exceeded the requirement” of a Request for Proposal (RFP) written for another biometric vendor…before the two warring biometric vendors merged together.

By HarshLight from San Jose, CA, USA – it’s a small world, CC BY 2.0,

In a previous post on the JEBredCal blog, I described a drawback of declaring an “end of life” for a product.

When you EOL a product, you need to ensure that customers using that product have an upgrade path to your newer offerings, and you also have to hope that the EOL announcement doesn’t spur any of your customers to jump to the competition.

Trust me; that can happen, as I know all too well. I told part of the story here.

…(many years ago) one U.S. state issued an RFP that explicitly said that the state wanted to buy a MOTOROLA automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS). So it issued an RFP to Motorola and several other vendors asking for a Motorola AFIS.

Luckily for the state, Motorola chose to submit a bid. (The bid/no-bid decision was a no-brainer.)

As a Motorola employee (not in proposals, but in product management), I was pleased when that state, after evaluating the RFPs, selected Motorola to provide its AFIS. (Are you surprised?)

But the other bidders didn’t give up and cede the victory to Motorola. Via FOIA requests, Motorola was able to read the proposal of competitor Sagem Morpho…

I semi-humorously paraphrased Sagem Morpho’s proposal argument in that post, but in essence Sagem Morpho noted that two states had recently switched from Motorola to Sagem Morpho because Sagem Morpho was better.

Therefore, in RFP/proposal parlance, Sagem Morpho exceeded the requirement for a Motorola AFIS by selecting a better AFIS.

(I believe that Motorola had already announced the end of life of Series 2000 when the two states jumped vendors. Although other issues may have come into play with those two states, the EOL notification certainly gave the states the opportunity to look at Sagem Morpho and other vendors.)

Motorola still won the award for that state system, but two of us in Motorola evaluated the submitted proposals and decided that Motorola’s proposal was NOT the best. I mean, if the customer wanted a Motorola AFIS, Motorola should have hit the ball out of the park. But we didn’t.

As is ever-so-common in the biometric industry, the warring parties were brought together when Sagem Morpho’s parent acquired Motorola’s biometric business. At that time I left product management and joined…the combined proposals organization. I then let my new coworkers know that their proposal was the better one.

Of course, these days it’s possible to avoid EOL issues by proposing biometrics as-a-service and offering an evergreen plan, which avoids some (but not all) of the on-premise aging hardware replacement issues that drive EOL announcements in the first place. Of course it’s not often that cut and dry, but evergreen IT is an admirable goal…which also benefits the vendors because customers have fewer reasons to switch vendors.

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