By Mounir Ladki, President and CTO at MYCOM OSI

The agile CSP is an organization that is focused on business outcomes, not a checklist of features and rigid scope of work. It has a relationship with its vendors that is based on shared success and value.

A recent report from TM Forum addressed the need for agile procurement head-on. ‘Time to Kill the RFP? Reinventing IT Procurement for the 2020s’ suggests that the telecom industry’s traditional Request for Proposal (RFP) process, which dates back to the 1980s, is broken, with bad procurement costing the industry over $1 billion annually. A survey conducted for the report reveals that two thirds of CSPs and 81 percent of telecom supplier respondents agree that the process is no longer fit for purpose.

The TM Forum’s report included specific criticisms as to why the procurement process is broken, namely the length of the process which is often at least a year and can be up to two or more, a failure to map against business requirements, and avoidable cost overruns of up to 3 times the original amount due to ‘change requests’ necessitated by not meeting business requirements effectively.

Driven by the approaches taken by successful web-scale companies, many technology-based RFPs have shifted to outcome-based procurement.

A fit-for-purpose, agile procurement and ongoing working model should be built on four fundamental elements: business outcome-based solutions, collaborative workshops/agile DevOps proofs of concept and an ongoing customer success-based relationship.

  1. Outcome-based solutions should be defined by business value, not the underlying list of features and functions of the products. This allows vendors flexibility to apply and combine the most relevant features in ways that achieve business results on an ongoing basis, rather than having features rigidly specified from the start
  2. Embrace collaboration to incubate continuous innovation. Collaborative workshops validate outcome-based solutions and incubate innovative ideas that advance the CSP’s original thinking of what they thought was possible using aggregated CSP best practices and the latest technology, such as AI/ML and automation.
  3. Use a flexible, future-proof commercial model. CSPs must have continuous access to the latest capabilities available in the market. Once a CSP has subscribed to our service assurance for mobile networks, then assurance of 5G equipment, services and network slicing is included within the subscription.
  4. Build a relationship based on customer success. Agile working isn’t something that happens just at the initial onboarding stage. It is about continual engagement with a customer success model where CSPs and vendors work towards shared business and technical goals and continually evaluate, develop and execute against objectives based on business value.

Ultimately, it is about CSPs and vendors working together to deliver outcomes based on business objectives throughout the lifecycle of the relationship. The reality is that both the speed of technical evolution and the way that technology is developed and delivered has changed. The agile CSP successfully collaborates with vendors, delivering business outcomes for continuous innovation.

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