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Managing Multiple IT Projects? You Need a Cohesive Strategy

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As a consultant, I work with enterprises on a host of projects, everything from voice network contract renewals, SD-WAN evaluations, cloud migrations, disaster recovery planning, voice system RFPs, and much more. Occasionally, a client will have a full list of telecom projects they are working on, one right after another.
 
Each project has a different source — vendor contract renewals, contact center needs, executive management priorities, vendor proposals/new technology, compliance requirements, etc. Prioritizing these projects and attacking them a few at a time might seem to make sense in some cases. However, if you attack these one at a time without a cohesive strategy, you’ll spend more money and will end up having to re-work some projects.
 
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
 
  • Example #1 — You sign a contract renewal for your Ethernet (or MPLS) data network, and then a year later, you start to think about an SD-WAN strategy. Chances are you will have 24 months left on your data network contract, you will have the wrong technology in place (Ethernet/MPLS), and your choices will be limited (likely to a single/your current vendor due to the remaining two-year contract). Eventually, you settle for your current vendor’s SD-WAN solution without any price competition. In essence, you end up paying 30% more for the next three years because contract commitments tied your hands during the selection process. You’re also not able to select the best-in-class SD-WAN solution for the most competitive price.
  • Example #2 — You install hardware-based firewalls at all your locations before evaluating your cloud migration strategy. After you have committed to a large purchase of these firewalls, along with three years of support costs, you realize that many of your applications are moving to the cloud (Office 365, voice, core systems, etc.). As a result, you realize a network-based security product would have significantly reduced your project cost, improved your security, added redundancy to your network security solution, and improved the performance of your cloud-based applications. Also, remote workers could have had better access to your network and cloud-based applications.
  • Example #3 — You renew a voice contract, and then 12 months later decide to move your voice system and ACD to the cloud. Yet, you are still on the hook for 24 more months of your minimum monthly commitment from your voice contract, or you have to delay the implementation of your voice (UCaaS/CCaaS) solution. This costs you money (contract minimum commit), time (delaying the new project), and efficiency to the business.
 
I have seen countless examples of wasted money, time, and efficiencies, which can add up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for a large enterprise. Taking projects a few at a time in response to others’ needs can become costly and require unnecessary resources.
 
Another approach is to consider your telecom/IT needs collectively. First, consider the business needs, the contact center, executive management, compliance, DR, etc. Ensure that you have an updated inventory of your applications, products, and services. Evaluate the various contractual commitments you have in place. Consider the newest technologies and how they may be able to benefit your organization, contact center, or DR situation. Based on this big-picture assessment, you can put together a gap analysis and a road map that considers all these factors. Finally, put together the implementation timeline of this cohesive strategy for the next two to three years. Then, you will have the time and money to evaluate the best products and technologies and have the time to choose the best vendor partners, negotiate competitive agreements, design long-term solutions, and minimize paying contract penalties and doing re-work.
 
Admittedly, this may take some time, effort, and overhead; it might even take some expert help from a consultant. But the additional time spent up front will provide for an effective, cost-conscious solution that will pay dividends to your IT department and business for years to come.

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"SCTC Perspective" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

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