Communication Strategies has developed a process that includes three phases:

  1. Discovery / RFP
  2. Evaluation / System Selection
  3. Implementation / Project management

Phase 1 – Discovery

During the discovery process we will become fluent with Client’s current business operations and existing telephony environment. Representative departments will be interviewed in order to identify existing and future requirements.  We will inventory and document existing telephone systems and voice network.  Growth planning will be identified including potential future locations. Analysis will include identifying necessary improvements to LAN/WAN environments.  This process will allow us to identify and document potential areas of functional, technological and economic improvements.  These will be reviewed in depth with Client. The result of this discovery will be a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) addressing system requirements.  The RFP will request product information, suitability to the Client’s current & future requirements, and pricing.  Prior to proposal submission Communication Strategies will work with the Client in developing a detailed evaluation criteria to be used in subsequent phases of the project.

Phase 2 – Vendor & Technology Evaluation

This phase will begin by submitting the RFP to suitable vendors.  Communication Strategies will evaluate each RFP response using the criteria developed during phase 1.  The criteria will cover but not be limited to technology, functionality, migration, lifecycle cost, financial stability and independent research information. In addition to our experience with emerging technologies, Communication Strategies maintains consultant liaison relationships with the major equipment manufacturers, e.g. Avaya, Cisco, ShoreTel, etc.  This provides us access to libraries of information, engineering and product development personnel as well as frequent updates.  The combination of the RFP responses, direct manufacturer access, previous experience, and independent research will allow Communication Strategies to develop an optimum telecommunications strategy.

Phase 3 – Project Management & System Implementation   

Once the ultimate solution has been identified, Communication Strategies is available to act as project manager to insure a successful installation. This would include coordination with all vendors and Client personnel. We will conduct weekly status meetings and prepare detailed meeting notes to be distributed to the team. We will supervise all database collection and system programming. We will create a detailed project plan as well as installation testing and acceptance criteria. Communication Strategies has managed hundreds of similar projects over the years and possesses the experience, processes and depth to ensure the project’s success.

The Discovery will include the following tasks:
  • Participate in telecom technology discussion with Client management
  • Create, distribute and review companywide E-Survey
  • Interview key departmental staff
  • Obtain inventories of all related hardware and telco circuits
  • Develop understanding of deployment strategy
  • Develop understanding of WAN/LAN topology
  • Identify required current and future applications
  • Document call flow, call coverage requirements
  • Identify applicable potential bidders
  • Develop high level cost estimates for budgeting
  • Create and distribute Request for Proposals to qualified vendors
  • Act as primary contact point for vendor Q&A
The Proposal Evaluation phase may consist of the following tasks:
  • Review each proposal and prepare evaluation report with a detailed cost and capability comparison. Develop bidders “short list”
  • Generate follow up questions for each vendor to ensure that RFP response is compliant, inclusive of all costs, complete and “apples to apples” comparable to other vendors
  • Provide recommendations, as appropriate, on vendor/solution suitability
  • Participate in vendor presentations
  • Prepare proposal Evaluation Summary
The System Implementation phase would include the following:
  • Negotiate pricing and terms with selected vendor for initial and subsequent pricing issues (add-ons, maintenance, future offices).
  • Review contract documentation
  • Place all Telco orders for new services
  • Manage collection of all system database issues
  • Provide system environmental requirements to appropriate parties
  • Develop PBX room layout
  • Develop business continuity  plan
  • Conduct periodic vendor status meetings (weekly as a minimum)
  • Coordinate user training
  • Supervise system installation
  • Develop system testing program
  • Supervise cutover coverage
  • Prepare and follow up on vendor punch list
  • Assist in liquidation of existing hardware

Methodology

Communication Strategies assigns a team to work together towards successful project completion. This approach allows for single point of contact for project tasks and communications while providing subject matter expertise where needed. Each project team consists of:

  • Principal in Charge – A principal of Communication Strategies who supports the Project Manager
  • Project Manager – Senior consultant to act as single point of contact through all project phases
  • Technical Specialist – Senior consultants with specific knowledge of certain technologies

Communication Strategies has developed an innovative approach to the Needs Assessment/RFP/Evaluation process for telecommunications systems. The process represents a continuous work flow that allows each phase to easily leverage off information gathered in the previous phases. The results of this approach include:

  • Efficiencies generated allow us to reduce overall project costs to Clients
  • Objective rating and scoring system makes it easy to articulate and justify recommendations
  • System is designed to prevent disputes and challenges from the vendor community
  • System allows Clients to help develop evaluation weighting to insure the best long term solution is identified and selected

Our approach uses some of the following tools: Sizing and scoring spreadsheets insures that all RFP responses can be compared on an apples to apples basis in a consistent manner

  • Feature schedules describe every feature available with current technology with ratings for must have, should have, nice to have and not important, with separate comply/do not comply/partial comply space for vendor response.
  • Pricing and feature spreadsheets auto populate into master scoring workbook that includes Client weighting of applicable decision criteria
  • Scoring sheets auto populate “magic quadrant” graph comparing overall solution compliance to requirements vs. total cost of ownership