Avoiding the “Three-Forevers” approach to vendor selection

So you’re about to embark on an OSS transformation project huh? One that involves finding the best-fit solution from the hundreds of OSS/BSS that are available on the market.

You’ve already thought long and hard about the build vs buy conundrum and decided that rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, you’ll go with the speed and “simplicity” of using an off-the-shelf solution. But now the arduous task of selecting the best-fit solution for your specific needs begins. Where to start? How to choose from the hundreds down to the single solution that you’ll rely on for years into the future.

Traditionally, carriers start in a familiar comfort zone, with the comprehensive requirement gathering phase. This approach, while thorough, is inherently slow and cumbersome.

The problem is that the tried-and-true method is what I call the Three-Forevers approach:

  1. Forever for the carrier to gather all the potential stakeholders and capture a massive list of requirements (many of which are “wish-list” or “never move-the-needle” requirements)
  2. Forever for the long list of vendors to respond to those requirements
  3. Forever for the carrier to evaluate all the responses

And that’s just the short-listing process. They still need to deep-dive evaluations on the remaining vendors to find the one best-fit solution. Phew! No wonder why OSS/BSS procurement events typically take 12-24 months.

Many people in the telco industry have already come to the realisation that the traditional method, although tried and tested, is not sustainable in the fast-paced digital landscape. There’s a desire for far greater efficiency. However, what’s the alternative? Does it require taking your finance / procurement team into unfamiliar territory (we all know how flexible procurement teams are with their evaluation rules don’t we?).

To address this inefficiency and still work within any procurement process rigidity, we instead use the filter-question approach. This method advocates for a set of strategic, high-impact questions designed to quickly identify vendors that are most likely to meet the carrier’s core requirements. We replace three forevers with a few short weeks by focusing on critical criteria that are deal-breakers or must-haves. This shift requires a different mindset, prioritising agility and strategic focus over exhaustive detail. And even though this process can take a few weeks, it barely requires any of the carrier’s time.

But we should point out that this is just the short-listing phase, ideally down-selecting to just one preferred bidder (or 2-3 depending on procurement rules at your organisation).

There’s no arguing that the next phase of going from preferred bidder/s to contract can still be time-consuming. It needs to be worked though with rigourous due-diligence and all of the other “burning rings of fire” that procurement teams tend to stipulate. This part can still take forever.

But at least you’re now down to just a single “forever” and have removed the three that typically precede it.  😉

If you’d like to hear more about our filter question approach, please reach out via our contact form.

If you’d like to share your techniques for speeding up OSS project approval times, we’d love to listen and learn from you as well! That’s the great thing about this industry. There are always new things to learn!

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