How to make FTS 2001 work

This is the second of a two-part opinion series on transitioning to FTS

2001. To read Warren Suss' first article, go to www. fcw.com/extra.

What will it take to convince agencies to begin to transition to FTS 2001?

Here are four recommendations that agencies should follow:

1. Build and sell a better business case for change.

The decision to sign up for a major telecom system transition is not

a technical issue; it is an issue of perceptions, values and politics. It

is an issue of resources and priorities.

The easiest decision is no decision. That option involves no shifts

in resource allocations and few political risks.

The advocates of change will be most effective if they can help their

customers build a compelling case to show what transition really buys. The

business case is king today for government and industry, and the side most

effective in building and selling the business case will win the transition

war.

2. Sell value, not cost.

For the last decade, the federal market, as well as private industry,

has patterned its customers into a narrow focus on transmission costs. If

raw transmission cost was the only issue associated with telecom decisions,

then the choice would be easy: Shut down networks, switch off PBXs and do

it all with paper, pencil and snail mail.

That is ridiculous. But by reducing the cost argument to its absurd

conclusion, we underscore the fact that the real issues in the federal market

are productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and service to the citizen — not cost.

3. Use the Clinger-Cohen Act as a weapon for change.

Industry, along with its government customers, needs to look at Clinger-

Cohen as an opportunity, not a threat. Clinger-Cohen has placed a greater

emphasis on the IT planning process. The new emphasis on IT plans, telecom

plans, and the associated reviews and meetings may be a pain, but it also

creates an important set of platforms that can be used to advocate change

and investment. With Clinger- Cohen's emphasis on results rather than spending,

the new platforms provide the perfect vehicles to shift the focus from cost

to benefits.

4. Make performance count.

As the telecom industry has experienced growth, consolidation and increased

competition, customer service has suffered. There are widespread reports

of installation delays, ineffective resolution of customer service problems,

and poorly planned and executed network software system upgrades.

In the competition for resources, some customers lose out. A customer as

large and important as the government needs to make sure that it doesn't

end up with the short end of the stick. We need better ongoing processes

and procedures to shift more business to vendors with better performance.

We need better ways to evaluate the value added by integrators. Agencies

need greater incentives not only to change to take advantage of new technology

but also to change to take advantage of ongoing competition in vendor performance,

customer care and post-sales support.

—Suss is president of Warren H. Suss Associates Inc., Jenkintown, Pa.

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