PSC - September/October 2017 Issue - 18
HOW TO MAKE
THE BEST DECISION
By Neil Horden
PSC | apcointl.org
he infrastructure of every technology system-9-1-1 PSAP implementations, computer aided dispatch
systems, trunked land mobile radio-will eventually get to the point where a significant portion of the
software and hardware will need to be replaced for continued, reliable operation. In almost every case,
the current vendor will offer an "upgrade," at what seems to be a bargain price compared with replacement of the entire system. These upgrades are typically handled as directed procurements (or sole-source) to the
original vendor, since in most cases only that vendor is capable of providing the upgrade.
This type of sole-source procurement often
begins with an unsolicited proposal from your
current vendor. While these proposals are useful to understand the vendor's perspective on
the shortcomings of your current system and
provide some insight into the current state
of technology, they are rarely a good starting
point for a procurement contract.
You, as the procuring agency, are faced
with several challenges:
* First, determining whether an upgraded
system, versus a system replacement, is
actually the best fit for your current and
* Second, determining if the upgrade is
offered to you at a fair price.
* Third, determining if the contract in its
entirety (terms and conditions, division
of responsibilities and costs, acceptance
of risk, etc.) is appropriate and equitable
(or even acceptable).
Far too often, the focus is on the price
and the other two issues are ignored until
the decision has been made. But, if the current vendor's proposal is not the best starting
point, what is?
Every procurement, whether a new system
implementation, a system replacement or an
upgrade, should start the same. This common
starting point is a thorough requirementsanalysis process. Through requirements
gathering and analysis, you will be able to catalog and clarify the many interrelated needs
of your organization. You will also be able to
evaluate the current environment in a more
accurate manner, having gathered all of the
pertinent assessment information. Analyzing
the environment includes a thorough review
of the existing systems and equipment, which
often yields valuable system-use information
such as how the system is used and what features and functions are critical.
Additionally, information on the anticipated lifespan and maintainability of each
critical piece of the existing system is captured.
This is especially important if an upgrade is
being considered. Since an upgrade, by its very
nature, relies on some portion of the existing
system, understanding the remaining life and
maintainability of that equipment is critical.
Much of the cost savings anticipated through
an upgrade can be lost if some of the remaining equipment does not have sufficient reliable
life remaining. When a piece of the upgraded