User Story

Title

Make RFPs Easier with the Help of the Technology Advisory Council

Video and Conferencing Services manages the digital communications solutions the University of Minnesota offers to students, faculty, and staff. These services support classroom recording, conference calling, in-room video conferencing, media processing and management, web conferencing and more.

One of the tools the service offers is Kaltura, a cloud-based media management system.Faculty use the tool to upload and distribute video for Moodle and Canvas course sites. Kaltura automatically optimizes files for viewing on any device and tracks usage and other key analytics. 

“We met with the Technology Advisors several times throughout the process. From start to finish, they were there to guide us, answer questions and provide advice on the many details of the solution, the RFP process and the University’s technology standards."

Challenge

Recently, Kaltura was assessed due to the University of Minnesota’s requirement to conduct routine review of technology contracts and alternative solutions. Video and Conferencing Services launched an official RFP process to explore the market for media management solutions.

“We’ve undergone an RFP process for a media management solutions before. That process was challenging for us,” said Mike Williams, service owner for Video and Conferencing Services. “We knew a lot of the details of the solution we required, but weren’t completely knowledgeable on the University’s standards and the rest of the University’s technology ecosystem.”

Without comprehensive knowledge of the University’s standards and technology ecosystem, the RFP process would once again prove challenging.

Solution

To make the RFP process easier, the Video and Conferencing Services team turned to the Technology Advisory Council for support.

“The Technology Advisors provide a very broad spectrum of subject matter experts within the IT space,” Williams said. “We thought their involvement would make the RFP process much easier for us to manage, especially as we dove deeper into technology and assessed if the tools we were interested in aligned with the University’s standards.”

Technology Advisors worked with the Video and Conferencing Services team throughout the RFP process, including during functional requirements gathering, drafting of the RFP, and review of vendor responses.

“We met with the Technology Advisors several times throughout the process,” Williams said. “From start to finish, they were there to guide us, answer questions and provide advice on the many details of the solution, the RFP process and the University’s technology standards.

“The Technology Advisors were incredibly helpful throughout the RFP process,” Williams said. “They made sure we were asking the necessary questions and were phrasing things in a language that vendors could understand. These questions helped us better develop our requirements list and refine the search from the beginning.”

Outcome

“The Technology Advisors were incredibly helpful throughout the RFP process,” Williams said. “They made sure we were asking the necessary questions and were phrasing things in a language that vendors could understand. These questions helped us better develop our requirements list and refine the search from the beginning.”

Drafting the actual RFP was a much more manageable and effective process with the help of the Technology Advisors.

“During our first RFP for this solution, we had to borrow a lot of language and contract requirements from other RFPs and contracts,” Williams said. “With the Technology Advisors working with us, we were able to draft an RFP that clearly stated our requirements, the University’s standards and our expectations from a vendor.”

The Video and Conferencing Services team also benefitted from the Technology Advisors’ support while reviewing vendor responses to the RFP.

“During our last RFP process, without the help of the Technology Advisors, we had difficulty reviewing the vendor responses,” said Williams. “This time, with the Technology Advisors helping us, the review process went much smoother, and was much more effective. We were able to narrow down the candidates to a few solutions and invite those vendors for live demonstrations of the technology.”

Technology Advisors also attended the vendor demonstrations, which helped the Video and Conferencing Service team determine each solution's viability.

“Having them there during vendor demos was invaluable,” Williams said. “The questions they asked the vendors, and their perspective on the solutions and our requirements, helped shape the conversations we had with the vendors. We were able to have much deeper discussions about key issues, including security, Single Sign On, and accessibility.

Throughout the RFP process, Technology Advisors helped the team make efficient, informed, and effective decisions regarding the media management solution.

“The Technology Advisors are a valuable resource for anyone undergoing the RFP process. I would recommend anyone in the RFP process use involve them as early as possible,” said Mike Williams, Service Owner for Video and Conferencing Services. “Having the air cover of the Technology Advisors in any argument related to solution choice would be helpful. The varying technology perspectives they provide is invaluable while comparing and selecting a solution.”