Strategy or Tactics? What Drives Your Procurement Decisions?
What’s more important to an organization? Going for the "correct" long-term strategic solution or satisfying today's business needs quickly?
What's more important to an organization? Going for the "correct" long-term strategic solution or satisfying today's business needs quickly? Of course, satisfying both of these objectives would be nice, but it's not always possible.
In my consulting practice, the issue of strategic vs. tactical considerations is part of most procurement processes that I facilitate. The need to solve business problems today versus longer term requirements often demands different approaches to planning and procurement.
I currently have two client engagements that represent these differences:
Strategic: Client A is a large public sector company that has very long-range capital cycles. They prefer spending capital to operational dollars (so cloud solutions weren't seriously considered after this was determined). They have been planning for the replacement of their core voice platforms for over two years.
As you might imagine, the culture is one of slow change and careful evaluation of "new" UC technologies. We spent days interviewing business unit personnel and built several focused use cases for their specific operating groups. These were incorporated into a formal RFP and became a significant part of the weighted criteria in the evaluation.
It's interesting to note that during the assessment process, we identified a few major network and server dependencies that created their own projects that were more tactical in nature (e.g. QoS capability, virtual server capacity, SIP Trunking).
Based on the current plan, the solution will take two to three years to be fully implemented. The client is happy with the process and feels they have a good long-term solution.
Tactical: Client B is a large national private financial services company that is growing rapidly--organically as well as by acquisition. The numerous acquisitions and previous business unit-led decisions have resulted in seven different voice platforms, including premises and cloud solutions. Some are leased, some are purchased and some are monthly commitments (cloud).
The engagement began with a call from the CIO stating that one of their most pressing challenges is to determine which platform to roll out to new offices. A second problem mentioned closely behind in importance is that it was impossible to get meaningful/consistent statistics--particularly for customer-facing applications--from the disparate platforms installed.
Since the time when my client engagement began a month ago, a new acquisition has been announced. The pressure is on IT to do something quickly. So I'm sorting through the details of what they actually own, and I'm trying to quickly determine which platform will most economically meet their needs as they continue to expand. They have a limited IT support staff, so that becomes a consideration as well. I believe we'll be able to arrive at a decision in 45 days and fully implement nationally 120 days after the decision is made.
So what's the bottom line, given these examples? The issue of strategy vs. tactics is based on the old consultant credo--"It Depends." It really does depend on an organization's key requirements. There isn't one correct approach. A good consultant will ask the right questions early on and help a client prioritize requirements.
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