Partner Pulling a Fast One?

Unanswered Question
Feb 6th, 2007

Hi, have recentley moved to a new company, who have an existing telecomms services company managing their Phone system. As part of a series of network upgrades, I am proposing to install CCM as a secondary swtichboard to serve one of our new sites, and eventually migrate the existing system over. However, after obtaining quotes from a few partners, our existing provider (who is a gold partner) came back with the cheapest quote by far... however, they list the following in there quote:

1 x Call Manager Publisher Software

1 x Call Manager Subscriber Software

20 x Cisco 7911 IP Handsets

1 x ISDN30 Gateway

20 x Cisco Voicemail Licences

1 x Qsig Connectivity

and thats it... the quote was a little to good to believe, so I asked for a few details, e.g. part numbers, version numbers etc.. nothing that any other partner hadn't provided up front. They have so far point blank refused to provide any of those, claiming they sell 'solutions' as a whole!?!? Are they allowed to do this? Does this sound dodgy to anyone else?

Anyone got any advice?

I have this problem too.
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rob.huffman Tue, 02/06/2007 - 11:23

Hi Will,

This is not completely unheard of from "Solutions" providers. Don't forget that as the customer here you get to make the ultimate purchasing decision! If you don't like the way they have presented their quote, let them know what you want and why. If they can't provide the details that you (and many others here) require, then go with another Partner/Provider. Don't forget the old saying;

"If it sounds too good to be true it probably is"

The other thing you can do is to come up with a detailed "Scope of Work" document that is part of the quote/bidding process. That way everyone is on the same page;

This type of document allows you to manage expectations on your part and of course from the suppliers perpective :) By working through the scope of the project in detail you will be able to mitigate potential problems that arise from not being on the "same page" as the prospective supplier.

Here are some excerpts from a great doc (written in the Providers perspective, but equally important from yours as well!);

"The Scope of Work sets expectations so that all parties understand what is included and excluded, the phases of the project or service, and the entry and exit criteria for each phase. By creating a well-defined Scope of Work that is based on a blueprinted service, you can minimize scope creep and design your service to proactively meet your customers needs.When designing a service, the Scope of Work should use the results from the service design process to produce a document that specifically spells out what is included and excluded in the service, as well as the team member responsibilities.

Service Scope: It is important to look at the service design and provide the high level detail of all that is included in the service. This would include technology areas covered, functionality included, and the ultimate deliverables. It's equally important to detail the service assumptions and exclusions. Additionally, list in detail what is not included in this service. This is a key area to think through in detail to prevent scope creep and delays. Identify potential points of delay or service failure, and if they're not in your control, specify that your service performance will be affected by any errors or omissions within these customer dependent systems.

Phase Responsibilities: For each phase, detail the responsibilities of both the customer and your organization. It's then easy to review the entire service prior to launch and spell out which actions are required by the customer. By stating the customer requirements in the Scope of Work, you can reference them in the assumptions section by indicating that if the customer responsibilities are not met in their appropriate phases, the timeline will not be met and the service objectives will be at risk.

Phase Deliverables: For each phase, describe and define the deliverables or outcomes of the specific phase. This will help all stakeholders understand the relevancy and importance of each phase relative to the service objective.

Phase Completion Criteria: Completion criteria, or boundary conditions, are critical for each phase. They act as toll gates or checkpoints to make sure that all responsible parties are contributing to reach the goal. In project management terms, they act as milestones to the service where critical actions need to be completed. Think of this in terms of a decision to move forward, or an acceptance of a phase deliverable.

The Finished Product

The completed Scope of Work can take on a variety of forms, but remember that this is ultimately a legal document binding you to perform the services as described."

From this well written (By Paul Born ) Scope of Work doc;

http://www.techlinks.net/CommunityPublishing/tabid/92/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/3679/More-Customer-Satisfaction-Less-Scope-Creep.aspx

Hope this helps! And best of luck going forward!

Rob

muarrij Wed, 02/07/2007 - 08:20

Hi Will

Have they qouted you for the actual server hardware and maintenance? Be sure to know the scalability of the solution they are offering you and any caveats. ie Who is responsible for bugs during UAT.

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