Monday, February 04, 2013

Part 1: Taking the pain out of server procurement

One day, a few years ago a stack of HP equipment showed up for job we had just won.  Everyone was excited.  "Did you hear?  We just got [insert amazing high-visibility job X for key client Y]".  "That's great Eric... but did you see that stack of HP equipment sitting in receiving... what's that for?", I asked.  "That's for this new job, I ordered it yesterday as soon as we received the PO."  "Uh-huh... and who did the spec?", I asked... knowing the answer.  "Don't worry... you did... I just switched out the chassis, and left most of the other parts the same from our last job the same.  They're all low-utilization servers." (Says the person who has neither heard of esxptop, nor has ever used a performance monitoring solution).  I also replaced a couple of things with stuff I found on newegg, mostly just RAM and hard drives... they're not HP branded, but I think we've really been overpaying some of this stuff."  And so it goes...

If you don't have a vendor management office (VMO) doing this kind of stuff for you, then you're like just about every other SI out there.  Maybe your procurement process has grown organically as your company has grown, or maybe Bob in Accounting always does it... or maybe you're fortunate enough to have a Systems Engineer who inherited the responsibilities from someone else, and actually does know what he/she is doing (at least from a technical standpoint)... and that enables the ship of procurement to sail unhindered until something stupid happens, and then everything is a wreak.  So even if you think what you're doing works, you might want to go back and compare your process with mine, and see if there are any gaps.

Over the course of the next few posts, I'm going to talk about my server procurement process.  I suspect that most SIs have to deal with this, so I'm going to go over what I've picked-up in the time since Eric stopped doing procurement.  I can't say that I've covered everything, or that you can beat a VMO at their own game, but I've picked-up a few things that help prevent scenarios like the above from happening, while at the same time enabling you to be more competitive (both in terms of pricing, and in terms of eliminating labor), and ultimately help you find the hidden server margin.  Because, like you... I primarily care delivering the scope, on schedule, under budget at the level of quality that I committed to.  Hardware and software are just necessary to insure we can deliver the scope, so let me help you take the pain out of procurement, by giving you my process.

1 comment:

Manoj Varma said...

Hey Nick! Where can get the complete story? I could only read Part 1 and unable to find the next links. Please help.