Using Personas and User Journey to power Request for Solution

Digitalisation and Procurement: Where are the real opportunities?
I have seen with great pleasure the new version of the EFQM Excellence model. Having been at the periphery of the EFQM community for ten years now, this is an interesting exercise. I believe this new version is a great step forward that builds on the foundations of the Excellence movement while addressing some contemporary challenges. In terms of foundation, I am glad to see the word execution at the center of the new EFQM model. The Excellence movement have always focused on getting things done and on the quality and depth of execution. I am glad to see this so clearly at the center of the model. Today there are a lot of agitated people who rush from project to another and bump into glass walls. We hear a lot about the agile imperative but systematic ways of working that combine simplicity, collaboration, speed and value creation are still scarce. Too often transformation programs are piling up on each other. Instead of focusing on a few breakthrough goals for the whole organization, every department and units pursue their own transformation programs and require the contribution of others. This leads to a collaboration overload and rigidifies organizations. The revised EFQM model recognizes that multiple change can impact an organization, but it also advocates that organization should have one purpose, one vision and transform themselves accordingly. It is good to see this so clearly on the forefront of the revised EFQM model. In terms of contemporary challenges, I believe that the extensive use of the word ecosystem within the new EFQM model is a great step forward. Thirty years ago, industries were depicted as a chain of players with sequential inputs and outputs. Industries were giant economic silos that have now merged, recombined and interpenetrated each other. Innovation is everywhere and continuously accelerating. As the result, traditional value chains are shaken. We now have dynamic ecosystems with organizations that simultaneously collaborate and compete against each other. These ecosystems are going through steady and sometime rapid evolution. All organisation tries to escape the commodity trap and to regain differentiation by harnessing open innovation and external opportunities. So, thank you EFQM for helping people reflect on ecosystems. Finally, I might share a call to go even further in the future. A lot of change has been implemented in the revised EFQM model. This is great. But moving from an assessment to a transformation logic might require more than a gentle upgrade of the RADAR logic. RADAR is great for assessing advanced organisation. Let’s use it for this. To help organisation transform I would encourage EFQM to develop a forward looking way to use its revised model.
My take on the revised EFQM model
Training for Buyers

Using Personas and User Journey to power Request for Solution

Many Buyers are looking for effective ways of sourcing innovative solutions. Discussion on innovation best practices often focuses on complex high-tech cases that require long, uncertainty-reduction projects where early involvement enables anticipation of a myriad of opportunities and risks. However, in fast-changing markets, we can also benefit from innovative solutions immediately available on the market. In such projects, the main challenge is to find the best fit between your internal problems and the external solution.

Today I would like to provide an overview of how you can use Personas and User Journey to power your Request for Solution.  The term Request for Solution is great way of saying that we will share our problems, so potential suppliers can focus on showing how they will help us do so. In such a request, you provide a high-level description of your problem, usage, needs and constraints and then the potential suppliers can suggest solutions and prices. This is a great way to offer them some freedom so they can suggest innovative options.

One of the challenges is to describe these problems, needs and constraints. This is where Personas and User Journey come into play.

Personas describe the users of a product or service; they help suppliers empathise with what is important for the users. The persona is imaginary, but it personifies the real-life attributes of users. It helps the supplier seize the main traits, ambitions and issues of the group of users that could use their solution.  Here is an example of a persona. I have created a fictitious example for a company looking into creating a purchasing academy. This is one persona amongst the 4 or 5 that would be needed for such a case.

Training for Buyers

The User Journey goes one step beyond by describing how the user interacts with the expected solution. For each persona, the user journey is broken into stages that describe their experience of the solution. A few elements are provided for each stage. This can include activities performed by users, questions they may have, short descriptions of what makes users happy or anxious, the “pains” they would like to get rid of and “gains” they would like to benefit from. All this should be written in the language of the user. This is not a specification.

Training for Buyers

The best way to develop a persona or a user is through workshops and interviews with real potential users. During workshops you can ask some key questions and participants can provide their personal answers using sticky notes for instance. Interviews can build on similar questions but individually administered. Interviews can be great to allow people to express their issues, problems and frustrations. Workshops are great to gather a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Personas and User Journey are sent or shared as high-level requirements and problems that can be used in a Request for solution. Instead of defining detailed specifications, Personas and User Journey are a great way of conveying what you need to your potential suppliers. This offers them the freedom to suggest some innovation or to adapt their standard offerings to you.

Sometimes you can go even further. I have coached a buyer in charge of recruitment agencies. The company was facing some difficulties to recruit people. We started to frame the problem by looking well beyond the recruitment agencies, the buyer developed personas to understand “Who are the typical candidates?” and then the buyer mapped the full candidate journey from beginning to end. This led to identify new opportunities to improve the recruitment process from beginning to end, well beyond the sole support provided by the recruitment agency.

As a summary, Personas and User Journey are great ways to share needs with suppliers and to allow them to suggest innovative solution. This is best fitted for situations where the market can offer some innovative solutions that you might be already aware of.

Dare to try? Keep us updated!


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Hervé Legenvre, PhD

EIPM Value Creation Observatory Director