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The Case for Managed Rollouts

Dec 3, 2018, 03:27 AM by Black Box Corporation
If you’re thinking about digital transformation, but aren’t sure how to manage new technology deployments while somehow still maintaining your current IT operations, it may be time to enlist the support of a managed services provider (MSP).

If you’re thinking about digital transformation but aren’t sure how to manage new technology deployments while maintaining your current IT operations, it may be time to enlist the support of a managed services provider (MSP).

An MSP makes even more sense if you have a highly distributed, geographically dispersed enterprise, such as retailers, hotel chains, restaurant chains, bank branch offices, manufacturing plants, or any enterprise with multiple locations. As CIO or IT director, the first problem you will most likely face is having little or no IT support or expertise at your distributed locations. You’re basically running IT remotely from the headquarters. How are you going to manage a network refresh, installation of a new cabling infrastructure or wireless access points, deployment of PoS kiosks, or even a new UC&C system across multiple sites? You need a trusted digital partner and experienced boots on the ground.

What’s a rollout?
First, let’s define what a rollout is. A technology rollout is a homogeneous work effort involving a series of identical (or nearly identical) repeatable activities at multiple locations, whether they are across a particular region, national, or even global. Depending on the footprint of each site, the quantities of switches or access points may change, but the work involves implementing the same technology, in the same way, with the same results. Based on the size of the organization and the number of locations, rollouts may take anywhere from 90 days to a year or more.

What’s involved in a rollout?
A rollout consists of four basic domains: governance and process, engineering, logistics, and deployment. While deployment may get the most attention, it won’t go off smoothly without extensive, behind-the-scenes planning.

Governance and Process
This is how the MSP controls the project and is the first step in any rollout. At this stage, the implementation process is defined to make it repeatable. Governance concerning financial management, risk management, communications, and quality management is also defined.

Engineering
This is the essential groundwork that goes on before the project begins. It involves MSP engineers developing and validating architectures; creating high- and low-level designs; and defining hardware standards and environmental requirements. Engineering also defines the run book and device-specific configurations.

Logistics
Logistics can make or break a rollout. Poor logistics can ruin a rollout. Great logistics can go unnoticed because everything worked as it was supposed to.

Logistics starts with materials planning, including making sure that material procurement is timed with delivery and implementation. Logistics can involve staging where devices are pre-assembled and pre-tested, as well as how they will be shipped out to the multiple locations. Some projects may also include reverse logistics where the decommissioned equipment is brought back for either refurbishment or secure e-disposal. This last point is particularly important for financial or healthcare institutions that need to have hardware wiped clean of all data.

Deployment
While many people think of deployment as what happens on Day 0, there’s a lot more to it. Deployment starts long before the actual installation. It’s everything that happens in the field starting with the site survey, prep, and remediation, including power requirements, where devices will be located, spaces, racks, etc. Closer to the big day, a deployment command center is set up as well as installation and testing of one site to work out any bugs. Only then is the rollout given the go ahead. Deployment also includes Day 0, Day 1, and Day 2 support.

What to look for in an MSP?

Here are a few qualities and capabilities every MSP should be able to deliver to ensure a successful rollout:

  1. A pre-qualified staff with the right technical qualifications and certifications
  2. Consistent processes driven by the use of run books, validation documents, and automation
  3. Collaboration to enable on-the-fly documentation updates for real-time access and common view of information
  4. Standards that are established and implemented for all survey tools and documentation
  5. Global reach to give you the footprint you need for a successful multi-site rollout
  6. Staging centers to pre-assemble and test all equipment
  7. Partnerships and the ability to work with another vendor to put together a complete solution

So what else should you expect from a managed services provider? Expect efficiency with defined services methodologies and IT disciplines that are aligned to ITIL standards. You should also expect transparency with service-specific KPIs, SLAs, and quarterly business reviews. Most of all you should expect services that are aligned to your business outcomes helping you reduce costs, improve operations, and leverage new technology that drives business value.

If you’re thinking about using a managed services provider, talk to Black Box. Our edge services include On-Demand, Day 2 support, Project Services, and Managed Edge Services for national and international organizations.

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