Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 - 14:28
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 14:23
Use of best practices, a history of success and industry reputation are good metrics in selecting an IT consolidation team.
Venturing down the IT consolidation path can be a frustrating and bewildering experience, and one that is fraught with risk for public sector leaders. As the saying goes – no one ever got fired for NOT starting an IT project – but plenty of people have gotten dinged for IT projects that have gone awry. Project risk, cost pressures, byzantine contracting rules, and other challenges can make even the most forward looking leader unsure about how to proceed. Here are some items to think about as your organization ventures down the IT consolidation path.
There is (still) no free lunch. Projects still costs money, and finding the best value means getting the right balance between cost and performance. That being said, there are creative ways to finance IT consolidation projects that minimize up front expenditure and share risk with the vendor. Project financing options should be discussed with potential partners. How confident are partners and are they willing to share the risk? Of course, it takes real effort on the part of your organization to make any project successful, so the partner ought to also be asking you how committed your organization’s leadership is and how much internal investment of talent you’re willing to make. Everyone wants to find the free IT lunch-counter; alas, it doesn’t exist. A well-defined partner selection process can certainly help.
Your partners can be a great source of information. In addition to telling you what you already DO know; are partners willing to tell you what you don’t know? Have they done enough IT consolidation projects to know where the pitfalls in the road are? For a proposed solution, do they help you understand the problem, the complicating factors, and the solutions? Do they provide a detailed technical architecture and configuration, service and support policies, and a description of the enhancement process? Do they discuss how to work together and how to work through the inevitable bumps in the road?
Practice makes perfect: does your partner repeatedly demonstrate success in IT consolidation? Does your partner have a history of standing behind their performance guarantees and doing whatever it takes to make you succeed?
Cost is an important consideration but not the only consideration. Find an appropriate balance between cost reduction and functional/non-functional requirements (e.g performance, ease of maintenance, security). How does your partner’s practice compare to existing commercial best practices? Insist on using your own scripted scenarios for demonstrations. And let’s not forget the obvious: ask for a sample contract up front, and read the fine print!
There is no single answer, but making the right selection can be the biggest decision upon which success and failure rests. At the end of the day, seek a partner with the breadth, depth, history, and reputation to ensure your success. Tomorrow, I will discuss some of the barriers and challenges to IT consolidation.
Johnny Barnes, left, is the General Manager Technology and CTO for IBM's Global Business Services. He has more than 35 years of experience with IBM, holding a variety of product, solution development, staff, system architecture, management and executive positions. Previously, Mr. Barnes worked to re-engineer IBM’s internal hardware development, global computing and telephony environments and grow IBM’s Public Sector transformation services business.
Mr. Barnes has an overall perspective of the computer industry and its applicability to business segments, as well as IBM's strategic plans to meet the distributed computing and e-business on demand market to satisfy future critical business requirements. Currently, Mr. Barnes oversees IBM’s WW Public Sector Technical and Solution Strategy and expanding IBM’s Public Sector transformation service business.