If You Fail to Plan...

Successful government sourcing and technology procurement starts with a strategic plan, according to Gartner

Successful government sourcing and technology procurement starts with a strategic plan, according to Gartner

Stamford, CN  August 12, 2003  Even as government agencies are facing intense public and legislative scrutiny over their technology procurements and projects, many government sourcing and technology procurement efforts fail to deliver optimal value to customers and constituents, according to Gartner Inc.

"The way government agencies source and procure technology is deeply rooted in the historical practices and challenges of government itself," said William Kumagai, managing vice president for Gartner Consulting. "The net result is that large IT procurements often take more than a year to complete, an alarming number are curtailed by protests from the vendor community and most fall short of meeting ever-increasing customer expectations."

Gartner said in order to address these challenges that government agencies need to optimize the way they acquire solutions from, and partner with, the private sector. The first step is to develop an effective sourcing strategy. Agencies must determine their organization's current and future business needs and compare these needs against the current state of their agency's technology-based solutions and identify the improvements needed.

Gartner also recommended that agencies evaluate their procurement resources and processes and then leverage best practices. "If an agency has not completed a large systems integration procurement or an advanced technology sourcing effort recently, getting help should be considered," said Kumagai. "It's likely that what is being attempted has been done before, and that best practices have already been identified at the expense of others."

The third step is related to the development and negotiations of successful contracts. Agencies must build contracts with terms and conditions, statements of work and key measurement criteria that are established and negotiated to protect the needs of the government agency.

The final step is related to implementation, oversight and continued evaluation of the project. Agencies must select an effective project team and use dynamic progress checks to ensure the project is evolving with the agencies' needs.

"Many governments have determined that technology has much to offer in achieving government agencies' objectives. But progress must be monitored at the beginning of a project, as well as every step of the way," said Kumagai. "Technology will change over time, and the perceived needs evolve as the project evolves. To reach a new desired state, the agency must be prepared to grow and the vendor relationships must allow for that possibility."

Gartner analysts will provide additional analysis on government sourcing and technology procurement issues during a series of local briefings titled "Optimizing Public Sector IT Procurement." The briefings will be held in three cities beginning in Sacramento on September 11, 2003.

Gartner said its experts will explore major pitfalls in IT procurement today, and will discuss how the process can be reformed and/or optimized to minimize risks and become less cumbersome. These briefings will also include an open forum where attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their issues and best practices, and to learn from other public sector organizations on how to avoid project failures and manage risk.

Briefings will also be held in Chicago on September 24, and in Brooklyn, N.Y., on September 25. These events are open to government, public education and utilities only.