Classic approached evaluations (RfI > RfP > RfQ) are expensive, take ages and focus primarily on product/service. Agile organizations tend to form differently. So I decided to find a new, leaner approach for evaluations and I like to share my results with you. I call it the Lean Proposal Canvas: ONE Day <> ONE Page <> ONE Evaluation

In my projects in delivery, I realized that companies were more and more interested and willing to contract agile because the advantages became evident. However the evaluation process somehow still stayed the same: RfI >> RfP >> RfQ. This is painful because:

  • Evaluations are very expensive for the company and the partner/vendor

  • Time to market is slowed down

  • Comparison of multiple n-pages proposals is complex

  • Focus lays on products/services and paperwork only

  • The people, that work on the proposal are not the same, as for service delivery

  • Agile teams tend to form different

  • An extra step of translation is needed: From a proposal into an agile contract

I couldn’t find an acceptable existing solution for that yet. So I decided to re-invent the weel myself, thanks to all that supported so far!-I started by defining some ambitious goals, how a leaner approach for evaluations chould look like:

  1. Reduce preparation efforts as much as possible (reduce waste)

  2. Time to market should be improved dramatically (days instead of weeks/months), start delivering business outcome earlier

  3. Proposal document with just ONE page and a predefined structure makes it more easy to create and compare multiple proposals

  4. Focus lays on evaluation of partner too (Soft- & hard skills)

  5. Lean proposal canvas is an agile contract

Inspired by the lean canvas of Ash Maurya and the Business Model Canvas from Alexander Osterwalder I first started to design a new adapted version. After some iterations and problem/solutions interviews, experiments and real case implementations I’d like to present you the current version 1.7.

We have on the right hand side all about the company, that is evaluating a new partner (left hand side). Main question is, can they both together achieve the main goals in the middle?

What I really like with the canvas approach: It’s easy and gives the evaluation a comparable structure, that follow’s the highest risks first. I’ve tried to design the Lean Proposal Canvas in a similar way:

Risk 1: Do we have the right partner?-If not stop here


Risk 2: Are the conditions matching?-If not stop here


Risk 3: Will the team fit and do the job?-If not stop here


Risk 4: Has the partner the potential for the future?-If not stop here


Is ONE page really enough?

Potential appendix’ to the Lean Proposal Canvas might be (numbers are equal to the sections in the canvas):

  1. Epic/user story pattern, Lean Canvas to describe problems and it’s business value

  2. True north thinking, what are the current strategic pillars and how much we split our investments each

  3. One page factsheets per service/product/etc to describe oppertiunities, unique selling proposition

  4. Go product roadmap to break down problems into goals, features incl. KPI’s how to measure success

  5. CV’s of the offered team members to match with the profiles needed

  6. Customer journey, high-level architecture, culture manifesto, general terms and conditions to describe the frame conditions

  7. Daily rate and profile description per team member, service, product, etc offered

Wouldn’t that be awesome, but how this fits in a lean evaluation process of just some days?-Easy as that, we just do it the same way as in service delivery: AGILE!

1. Initialization (Forming):

Setup an agile x-functional evaluation team, that contains the people that will cooperate with the new partner, extended by other stakeholders needed. The x-fuctional evaluation team has to have the competences to decide.

2. Preparation (Storming)

Define the high-level requirements your own within the x-functional evaluation team. Focus to the main Sections of the lean canvas first and prepare all appendix’ you think are needed. Invite then potential partners/vendors, that you think could do the job and provide them your prepared informations in advance. Based on that, they should show up with all resources of the potential delivery team and other stakeholders. So that the vendor has a x-functional evaluation team in the room, that is able to decide as well.

3. Execution (Norming)

The clue is now, that the Lean Proposal Canvas is worked out together with the partner in an agile approach. That means in several iterations of e.g. planing, break out sessions, hack-rooms, reviews, demo’s, etc. The Lean Proposal Canvas is evolving section by section. Where needed appropriate appendix’, such as a e.g. a go product roadmap, are developed together. So that we have a completed Lean Proposal Canvas and a feedback/decision at the end of the execution day.

This could be repeated with further candidates.

4. Decision

Choose 1-2 potential partner to go into the next stage agile delivery.

5. Start agile Delivery (Performing)

After the final decision we immediately wanna start agile delivery. If there is still uncertainty, it might be an option to choose e.g.the best two potential partners and go with both in a proof-of-concept. This will be even cheaper, than switching in a later state (similar to a late bug detection the costs increases exponentially).


Download Lean Proposal Canvas v1.7:


What goals we have achieved already?

  1. ✅ As less as possible preparation is needed: We do most at the ONE day (3.) all together.

  2. ✅  Time to market should be improved dramatically (days instead of weeks/moths), as we wanna start delivering business outcome earlier: Evaluation steps 1.) to 3.) will last for some days the max, so that the agile delivery will start as soon as possible

  3. ✅  Proposal document should take place at ONE page and with it’s predefined structure it makes it more easy to create and compare multiple proposals: Lean Proposal Canvas is the solution

  4. ✅  Fokus lays on evaluation of partner too (Soft- & hard skills): While we create the Lean Proposal Canvas and it’s appendix’ together we learn how the potential partner and it’s team members behave, think and feel.

  5. ✅  Lean proposal canvas is an agile contract: There is just a sign off at the bottom of the Lean Proposal Canvas needed

Now, I’m keen on your feedback. Do you have similar experiences, what do you think is missing, wont work, etc?

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