Building a new picnic table has been like planning a network migration. One of the biggest challenges in telecommunications and IT is scope creep. There always seems to be too many factors to consider and technology and service offerings change so rapidly that failure to consider all factors in the beginning of an initiative can significantly and adversely influence previous strategic decisions.

I decided I wanted to build a picnic table. When you think about it, a lot of considerations and decisions are apparent and can be easily identified initially.

  • What type of material?
  • What type of design? One piece, table and benches, etc.?
  • What type of fasteners?
  • What dimensions?

These sorts of questions have analogues in the telecommunications world. As a quick example, a data network:

  • What type of access?
  • What type of design? Hub and spoke, fully meshed, etc.
  • What type of redundancy?
  • What bandwidth will each node need?

Of course, each of these lists go on much more extensively. But then there are less apparent options that may be overlooked initially. Those other factors begin to influence decisions you thought you already finalized. A quick trip to the hardware store -much like market research in the telecom arena- can be very educational. Instead of making a decision between pressure treated lumber and standard lumber, several all-weather composite options exist. If you choose to go with one of those, suddenly specialized fasteners are more optimal than the ones you previously anticipated using. Both the materials and the fasteners are more expensive, though. But those same, more expensive materials will also take you further into the future without needing to repurchase or upgrade what you are investing in today.

Then you may realize that if you would like to be able to push your separate benches in under the table, the leg design needs to change which will increase the amount of material you need to use. Suddenly the already over budget project becomes uncomfortably over budget and you begin backtracking to your original design.

This can be a long, frustrating and tedious process, especially if you have made, remade, and undone some of your previous decisions. It may involve returning and exchanging items and potentially disassembling and reworking portions you have already built.

All of this seems to happen all too often on telecommunications projects. Unfortunately, the returning and exchanging of materials, or reworking already built components are the equivalencies to renegotiating and pursuing further, additional proposals from vendors, prolonging your timeline and complicating the project. In both scenarios it is critical to identify the objectives of the project early and consider what factors may influence the decision. Ensuring the inclusion of all technologies and offerings in your consideration is a challenge, especially if you have not spent much time in the market since your last contract was signed 3 years ago. In the same way, identifying potential obstacles and impediments, whether they are technological, operational, financial or contractual can be equally tricky. Efforts towards preventing scope creep via research, design and planning can pay enormous dividends in shortened timeline, appropriate solutions for your organization and its future, costs within budget and better relationships with your suppliers.

For help developing and implementing a strategic telecommunications plan, contact Source One.
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David Pastore

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