Order/Project Management: Applying The Right Strategies
IT Lifecycle Management 9-Point Series: Blog #4
IT Lifecycle Management From Procure-to-Pay
In this nine-part series our experts will share insights on game-changing technology lifecycle management practices for IT, operations, and finance to set your business up for success.
- IT Planning
- Technology Architecture Design
- Service Provider Benchmarking
- Vendor Scorecard Access
- Built-in RFP Process
- Online Shopping Experience
- Price Comparisons
- Quote Management
- Service Order Approval & Workflow
- Contract Negotiations
- Aggregated Buying Power
- Pre-Negotiated Terms
- Project Coordination
- Order Placement / Provisioning
- Testing & Deployment
- Carrier Inventory
- Hardware and Software
- Technical Specifications Data
- Customized Attributes
SERVICE & SUPPORT
- Help Desk
- Moves / Adds / Changes / Disconnects
- Vendor Management & Trouble Shooting
- Network Monitoring & Notification
- Centralized and Normalized
- Consolidated Billing
- Invoice Workflow
- Bill Pay
- Audit & Dispute Management
- GL Coding
- AP Posting File
- Cost Allocation
- Budget Management
- Report Library
- Trend Analysis
In order for an IT organization to effectively manage its IT assets and associated spend, it must leverage the right tools and expert resources. Once a technology solution has been designed, the vendors evaluated, the finalist selected and the contract negotiated, the deployment part of the cycle commences. At this point, the success of the technology solution you have selected rests on how well you deploy it, and your success in the implementation depends on applying the right Project Management strategies.
Think of this as building the house you designed with the best of architects; unless you have the right strategies, resources or tools, it doesn’t matter how good the design looked on the architectural drawing. Your ability to enjoy the beautiful design and manage your costs during and after the deployment, requires that you invest time and energy doing this right.
Having the right project manager with the right tools is akin to building a house with a great general contractor who will manage all the subs, the timelines, the deliverables, the dependencies, and the execution according to a well-thought-out and designed plan. The more experienced and methodical the project manager is, and the more specialized the tools at her/his disposal, the more likely it is for the solution to be implemented effectively. Take for example a 200-site network replacement project that we managed for a national financial institution. With over 600 orders, involving primary and back up networks, along with replacement hardware at each location, having an experienced PM was a must. But no matter how experienced or talented the project manager was, without the right platform and/or tools to oversee all the moving parts, you simply are risking success or failure of the project. If it weren’t for daily email notifications of site dispatches, this enterprise would have incurred tens of thousands of dollars in charges for change orders, productivity loss and/or network delays. And if it wasn’t for the email management engine in the platform to capture and parse each email between all involved parties to the right order, making it easier to dive into each order during or after the installation, communication would have suffered.
Order Placement & Provisioning
Equally important to the general contractor is each sub-contractor in their unique craft – the electrician, the plumber, and the painter. Each must have their respective tools, and they all must work together and with the respective vendors seamlessly to ensure a successful outcome. When our Service Delivery Team works on a SIP deployment, say for a large law firm, we might have a dedicated Voice provisioner who understands how to read carrier CSRs and has a full grasp of number portability to ensure complete and timely transfer of that law firm’s telephone numbers when changing providers. Their dedicated data provisioning counterpart, meanwhile, is an expert at ensuring the right routing and class of service allocation is implemented by the carrier, to ensure that the voice quality of service is not compromised by YouTube streaming. Equally important is a clear understanding of, and establishment of escalation paths within the service provider ranks, as something always goes wrong. And just like a carpenter doesn’t use a hammer for wood molding, email and Excel spreadsheet were not designed for managing carrier orders. A management platform must provide visibility into milestones, dates, deliverables, and act as a central repository for technical specifications and project communication. By building an email relay engine that integrates with our order management platform, we enabled our provisioners to effectively manage customer and provider communication, especially when dealing with multi-site, multi-provider or multi-technology deployments.
Testing and Deployment
Anyone who has worked in IT knows that a plan is incomplete unless it is fully vetted and validated. Whether you’re rolling out a software enhancement or deploying a new network, unless you test every aspect of that solution, you’re asking for unanticipated trouble. A perfect example is implementing a Disaster Recovery (DR) network strategy. Many IT organizations spend countless hours designing intricate DR strategies and solutions for their networks, ensuring every possible diversity option is explored and ordered – Entrance, Access, Route, Access Technology, Network to Network Interface, PE, POP, Technology and Carrier Diversity. The mistake that most organizations make is not to fully test this comprehensive plan proactively to ensure that it will work in the case of an outage. One of our customers, a leading healthcare organization, was pleasantly surprised when they saw the details of the testing plans that our implementation engineers put the carriers through to ensure that what they bought and planned matched what was deployed. Those DR plans, along with network diagrams, contracts, scopes of work and other pertinent documents, need to be stored in a central repository, easily accessible not only for the team that deployed a solution, buried deep within their email filing system, but available to future teams 2 and 3 years down the road, when they need to be refreshed or as the technology infrastructure evolves.
So much can happen during the implementation phase of a project to impact its success. Having the right resources leveraging the specialized tools to effectively manage the implementation of an IT asset, will determine whether or not it is delivered on time, on target, and on budget.
Post your comments or questions for Sameer below to dive further into project management.
Author: Sameer Hilal
Chief Operating Officer
Sameer Hilal is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of vCom Solutions. He effectively leads vCom to be a market leader in the implementation and support of advanced telecommunication solutions. In 2005, vCom was ranked as the # 1 Fastest Growing Private Company in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2006, vCom was ranked as the #51 Fastest Growing Company in the United States (Entrepreneur). LinkedIn