Zubair Shaikh Zubair Shaikh Infrastructure Prime - DonRiver, Inc

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Vendor selection - Best practices

  • Let's face it folks finding the perfect IT Infrastructure that addresses all bullet points of a business
    wishlist can be very tricky and almost impossible at times.  Most hardware and software packages promise
    more than they can deliver and even when you do manage to find a pseudo perfect solution it is not the
    panacea management was expecting.  In my professional opinion if one follows certain tried and true best
    practices rules the process can help with some common pitfalls of the various vendor and product selection
    processes.

    A well architected solution constitutes evaluating both internal and external requirements and processes in addition
    to such resources as ISO, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and ITIL (I.T Infrastructure Library). Industry standards
    are a great resource to have can help with any situation one can run into.  Telco's have very strict guidelines
    from government agencies such as the FCC that have to be adhered to.  There have been hundreds of case studies
    done over the years that can assist with even the most challenging of situations.  Doing your homework pays
    dividends in the long run when rolling out an enterprise level solution.

    The next step is to determine which features will accommodate a majority of the business processes and any projected future
    needs. Having a safety net which allows for expansion and growth is critical when working with large scale users and high
    volume of data.  Once the overall solution is archited budget and pricing has to be examined very closely; after all what
    good is an architected solution if the client cannot afford it?. You want to select at least three hardware and software
    vendors with similar features and compatibilities. Wherever possible select vendors that are well established with long industry
    experience, stablity and reputatable products.

    Support agreements are critical for post-production services which may include software and hardware upgrades at a nominal fee or on a pay-as-you go payment structure.  Training is another area that should be considered when rolling a new piece of software to end users because they are the eventual audience for all this effort.  Having an well trained user community can mean the difference between the business solution being a success or a massive failure for both the vendor and client. 

    Service level agreements should have clauses that hold both parties responsible for their end of the overall solution; vendors
    should be required to produce quality work and robust solution while the client required to provide detailed requirements
    documentation and any internal process layouts.  It is also a worth while activity to do reference checks on the vendor; this
    holds them accountable for having delivered a successful deployment in the past.  Due diligence is the responsibility of any
    good program manager and is ultimately key to delivering a well built environment for the end user.

    Zubair Shaikh
    About Zubair Shaikh Zubair Shaikh works as Infrastructure Prime at DonRiver, Inc
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