Oracle Shines in New Software Acquisition Trend: Fact-Based Evaluations in Higher Education

Formal RFP-style solicitations are a fact of life for IT vendors doing business in the U.S. public sector.  Our public institutions of higher education are certainly no exception.  The art of conducting a thorough, full and open competitive acquisition process does not come easy to anyone involved:  vendor, user, CIO, or procurement officer.  It requires time, money, diligence, and endurance.


A critic might ask, "After all that RFP effort, at the end, do you know any more about the system you selected than when you started?  Did you reduce risk or save money?  Did you determine a significant difference between the offerings?"


Although the RFP process is a tremendous resource drain for vendors, we are seeing a very interesting and positive trend in higher hducation.  Some new techniques in acquisition management are resulting in very valuable insight and results for higher education customers, and Oracle is winning!


A two-fer?  A win-win?  You be the judge.


Using new fact-based evaluation methods, these customers have anticipated areas where old methods were too murky and have concentrated extra attention on critical success factors within both the software product's functional characteristics, and the structure of the proposed implementation project.  The old saying still goes:  Caveat emptor.  Let the buyer beware.  Fact-based evaluations are designed to illuminate areas of risk, while allowing like-to-like comparison.  Once you know the risk, you can manage it, and correctly allocate a project budget.


So what is new is not that buyers are doing competitive comparisons, but rather the depth of product comparison, and the ability to attach predictable cost and risk scores based on product fit.


OK, buyers benefit, so why is this also good for Oracle?


Oracle has recently been awarded new contracts in two major statewide system contests.  Both of them used the fact-based evaluation model to expose the true projected total cost of ownership.  Look at some of the findings in connection with these specific evaluations, and you will see how this new acquisition methodology is providing clarity, and can help to reduce risk and surprises.  These objective comparisons have highlighted the inherent strengths of the Oracle-PeopleSoft product family, and of the sound project management methodologies employed by Oracle Consulting and our Alliance partners.


Evaluated Area



Functional requirements

Out of 3,600 requirements, Oracle software fit all except 23 items. 

Competitor's software reveals almost 5X the number of gaps.


Requiring far fewer and simpler custom modifications, Oracle was able to provide a fixed cost proposal.

Estimated $13.5M lower cost plus shared risk.

Hardware/ software infrastructure

Oracle's pure internet architecture is significantly streamlined, allowing for a simpler hw/sw platform.

Ability to avoid 47% extra infrastructure cost.

Multi-institution integration

Oracle's flexibility and configurability is superior.  This is needed to handle diverse colleges, institutions, and business units of a major statewide university system.

Functional & technical score won by 18.5%.


Well.  In the world of RFPs, one would say, there is nothing new under the sun.  But here is an unmistakable new trend that we are seeing in higher education.  It seems that a cumulative pool of knowledge about critical factors for an ERP or SIS implementation project has formed.  Furthermore, all products are not created equal.  Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise version 9.0 included many new business process options that become supported through configuration, avoiding altogether the need to create custom code.  Consistent investment in functional and technological product development is making a difference that is discernable to knowledgeable buyers.


I would like to offer my appreciation and admiration for the higher education customers, advisors, and external advisors who have made this step up in better acquisition management, and wish them best of luck on their ongoing projects.  Have a great summer too!


Our initial implementation of PeopleSoft in 1999 grew out of a traditional RFP process that started in 1997. In 2007, we re-evaluated our ERP/SIS decision. We found the initial RFP process was incomplete and out of date. We instead used a variation of fact based (re)evaluation. Not only were we satisfied at the end of the exercise that our facts/requirements could be met, we were able to use those requirements to prove return on investment after we upgraded to the 9.0 suite of applications in 2007. Win-win. On a side note, our executives understood fact based evaluation far better than they ever understood the traditional RFP. We believe this is because we tied each fact/requirement to specific, stated academic or business goals.

Posted by Ted Simpson on June 19, 2008 at 12:42 PM PDT #

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