COMMENTARY

How to get past the transformation myth

Mention the word “transformation” to federal executives and they picture a lengthy process, requiring many meetings, written justifications, and more money than they have in their budgets. 

Despite recommendations from the General Services Administration to use the new Enterprise Information Solutions (EIS) contract to transform telecommunications solutions, agencies hear “transformation” and close up their office shutters. Full stop. End of story.

Here’s the secret, though: It actually takes less time and money to transform existing telecommunications capabilities to state of the art collaboration voice and data solutions than it does to “lift and shift”. 

The Proof:

Many agencies already have sufficient LAN and IP network infrastructure in place, which means a major piece of the heavy lifting is either under way or already complete.

When agencies look to transition rather than transform they typically evaluate each individual piece of their current solution: Are the handsets out of date? Does the inventory align with current personnel?

Transitions look at the nits, missing the sum of the whole that a transformation provides. As a result, a transition of only what is in place today may be costlier and more time consuming.

The reality of EIS is that it will require the migration of existing services procured from many contracts onto a new agreement. There is no easy way to do this.

The analysis required to ensure that every critical piece is transitioned appropriately is lengthy and resource intensive. Whether the current telecommunications system is delivered via Networx, WITS 3, GSA’s Local Telecommunications Services or, more likely, some combination of these.

Shifting these disparate pieces to a single, new contract requires extensive planning, coordination, and training. All of this effort is expended to just maintain older, more expensive, and less functional technologies.

The evaluation period can be just as long, if not longer, than what can be achieved in a transformation. Just the answer to one question: “Can my office continue to meet its mission with the equipment we’ve had for years?” can cause substantial delays in any decision to transition or transform.

The answer is likely to be different for different offices, creating the potential for patchwork solutions that are more expensive and potentially more disruptive to an agency’s mission.

The important question that doesn’t get asked enough is: “Can we afford to keep our existing equipment that is more difficult to maintain and will become more expensive when current contracts expire?”

In other words, What is the cost of NOT transforming?

What you don’t know can, indeed, hurt you, or in this case your agency.

Don’t assume that transformations take more time. Modern telecommunications technology actually takes less time to deploy than its older counterparts. Plus, it comes with built-in security and features like Unified Communications that simply didn’t exist a few years ago.

Flying from New York to Los Angeles in a prop plane got early fliers there, but newer technology not only cuts travel time, it includes internet access. Plus, in real dollars, that faster flight with enhanced features actually costs less. 

When performance, schedule, and cost are all evaluated, transformation is the clear choice.

Transformations ensure that everyone in the office is on the same platform, improving communications across the enterprise. Offices get unparalleled functionality that often has a direct impact on the ability of the agency to meet its missions. What’s more, today’s technologies offer state of the art accessibility, adaptability, and can be scaled up or down depending on specific needs.

The even better news is that there are experienced experts at GSA and industry that are ready to assist in any transformation scenario. Whether it’s identifying needs, recommending technologies, ensuring accessibility or even affordability, there are partners in government and industry that can help ensure that your agency gets the telecommunications services it needs for the missions of today and tomorrow.

Transformation isn’t a scary word. It can improve your operations more quickly and at a lower overall cost than just transitioning what you have now.

You can’t afford not to transform.

About the Author

Larry Allen is president of Allen Federal Business Partners.

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