There are two reasons to strive for excellence in preparing your Template 1 document. First, it greatly increases the likelihood that the document will receive executive approval and you will be able to proceed with acquisition planning using the subsequent templates. Second, the subsequent acquisition management templates build on Template 1. A well-prepared Template 1 document greatly simplifies the preparation of the subsequent templates. Use the evaluation guide paragraphs below to evaluate and improve your Template 1 entries.
1. The statement in the Description of the Problem needs to be logical and correct. For example, the fact that an existing process is manual is not in and of itself a problem. However, if it is too slow, too costly, or generates too many errors, that is the problem. In other words, explain what the problem is--such as unacceptable quality because of too many errors.
2. The problem needs to be of sufficient magnitude to justify the use of the templates. The potential financial and non-financial benefits from the problem's solution should be large enough to appeal to executive decision makers who decide on which proposed projects to fund (invest in). Moreover, the dollar value of the project to solve the problem must be large enough to motivate contractors to submit proposals to help solve it. A general rule is that the project must require about three months or more of a contractor's time, with one or more contractor employees applied full time.
3. The Business Activities Affected by the Problem should include all of the activities significantly affected. For example, poor inventory information clearly affects inventory management but probably also affects deliveries to customers, resulting in unhappy customers and lost sales.
4. Quantitative data must be included in the Actual Performance, Target Performance, and Performance Gap sections of Template 1. Qualitative information can be included in these sections, but quantitative information must also be included. Quantitative information can be non-financial as well as financial. Asking the right questions can reveal the non-financial quantitative information needed, such as: How often does the problem occur? Where and when does it occur? How much calendar time is lost due to the present approach? How many labor hours are wasted? Financial quantitative information can result from such questions as: What are the costs of the problem, such as the cost of lost calendar time, lost labor hours, and correcting errors? What risks are being incurred and what are the financial loss exposures and other exposures as a result of these risks? Reasonable "best guess" estimates may be used by students in college courses.
5. A risk problem must also be quantified. Risk can be a major problem. If there is a need to reduce risk, the costs and other impacts of the risk exposures should be quantified. In project planning, these costs and impacts are usually identified through discussions with stakeholders and detailed analysis of the problem. In a college course, a student may need to make his or her own reasonable "best guess" estimates of the risk exposures and the extent to which a solution would avoid or mitigate the exposures. For example, reducing the risk exposure from, say, $1,000,000 to $100,000 would be of much importance to executive decision makers. The quantitative information for risk should be included in the Actual Performance, Target Performance, and Performance Gap sections.
6. The Performance Gap entry should show the quantitative difference between Actual and Target performances. This can be as simple as subtracting Actual from Target to get the figure for the Performance Gap. In the military and some other organizations, it is sometimes difficult to estimate costs for Actual and Target because of the complexity of the overhead cost (direct labor cost + overhead = actual labor cost). However, many military organizations have a standard overhead labor cost percentage that is used in Template 1 and other cost calculations.
7. The KPIs cited need to be at the organizational level. Both organizational and division/department key performance indicators (key performance measures) are very important. However, don't confuse organizational KPIs with the lower level KPIs of departments or divisions of the organization. You need to be sure yours are at the organizational level. Executive committees that decide on which projects should be funded (and requests for proposals issued) focus principally on the organizational KPIs because they are thinking of the impact on the organization as a whole.
8. The Principal Stakeholders cited should include those of most concern to executive decision makers. Not all stakeholders (those directly and indirectly affected by the change) are of equal importance. Also, there may be important external stakeholders. For example, if customers are being negatively affected, it would be important to cite these stakeholders in this section of Template 1.
9. The Tentative Solution Strategy section should not specify the solution, but simply the strategy that will be used to identify the solution. It is very important that executive decision makers know that alternative solutions will be considered and that the best one will be recommended.
10. The writing in Template 1 needs to be clear and understandable to executive decision makers who are not familiar with the subject matter. In addition to making sure your writing is clear, be careful not to make grammatical errors or errors in punctuation that can bias executives against your Template 1 proposal. One technique is to have a person read your Template 1 who is not knowledgeable about the subject. His or her recommendations often do much to improve the clarity of the Template 1 document.