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Analyze State of Technology

Analyzing the state of technology is the examination of the condition of existing technology in the Postal Service and externally in the market. It determines whether the technology can be leveraged from within or needs to be purchased externally. Information technology (IT) is most relevant to this discussion, but the IT needs of other functional areas are also addressed.

Technology is complex, and a specialized knowledge of technology in the applicable area is required. Selecting the correct technology requires an in-depth understanding of the Postal Service's business objectives, products, and the probable evolution of technology. The product or solution must be evaluated on its ability to integrate with other internally developed or third-party tools. Whether the technology can be integrated with the current environment, including legacy software, hardware, and operating systems, must be determined before selection.

Analysis of technology is conducted on both the market and the specific need. Once a technology need is identified, the following ordered preference for fulfillment is considered:

Leverage existing assets/capabilities

Buy or purchase a commercial solution

Make or build a custom solution

Analysis of Technology

The Purchase/SCM Team performs two types of analysis: a general analysis of technology and a specific analysis of available products. The general analysis examines general market and technology trends. The analysis of the specific need helps select the appropriate method for purchasing and, if a buy decision is made, the appropriate suppliers.

Sources for the analysis include:

Books (regarding networks, operating systems, enterprise, and certifications)

Subject matter experts from the Postal Service, other public agencies, and private industry

The Internet (search engines and websites)


Trade magazines



Examples of the different types of information available from suppliers include:

Webcasts - industry experts demonstrate, discuss, and answer questions about their latest software and solutions

Seminars and conferences - provide insight to businesses and show how technology enhances enterprises

Technical chat rooms

Company-specific training classes or technical education - events that cover the technology behind business solutions, packaged composite applications, and integration and other applications, offered as hands-on or self-paced online training

Forums - show attendees how their businesses can adapt to, and profit from, changes in their industry

Other events - designed to educate company members, facilitate networking among colleagues and company representatives, and influence future company product releases and direction

Market analysis can also include visits to sites, interviews with potential suppliers, and attendance at trade shows. All of these sources provide guidance in the selection of technology by providing the information useful in determining how, and with what, the Postal Service will satisfy its need.

The information that is gained through research and analysis should be collected, organized, and communicated throughout the Postal Service. Time and resources spent on analyzing technology will be reduced when completed or ongoing analysis is shared. The Postal Service uses various research services and other means to track and communicate key technology changes with the appropriate Postal Service personnel.

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Leverage Existing Assets/Capabilities

Before purchasing new supplies or services, the Purchase/SCM Team must consider existing assets. These are supplies, equipment, software, or services owned by the Postal Service. Information on existing assets is provided in:

Capacity documents

Planning documents

Master software inventory lists

Client hardware asset inventory system


Analyzing the state of technology will determine whether existing assets are feasible for the fulfillment of the need. Existing assets include:

Reutilization of surplus materials, when economically practical

Supplies within existing inventories

Orders against existing contracts

Buy or Purchase a Commercial Solution

The Postal Service prefers to buy commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology rather than make or develop its own unique, custom-designed solutions. Occasionally, however, the Postal Service needs to accommodate a unique process or nonstandard need. Whenever possible, the Purchase/SCM Team should reevaluate Client requirements to ensure conformity with existing technology and to minimize customization of COTS products and the time and expense of programming and maintenance associated with this customization.

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Make or Build a Custom Solution

The least preferred solution for the Postal Service is to make or build a technology solution. If the Postal Service does not have internal resources to develop the solution, contractors with the skills necessary to build the technology are identified. Development can cost the Postal Service extra time, money, and resources. Below are possible costs associated with the "make" option:

Initial investigation (technical aspects, the marketplace, and future expectations of technology must be addressed)

Technical development (including specification, hardware, firmware, and software design)

Testing and certification (legal requirements and market demands)

Maintaining the product (including product updates, maintenance costs, and the costs of keeping the product up-to-date with evolving technology)

Make vs. Buy

A multitude of factors encompass the decision to make vs. buy in the technological arena. The total cost of ownership (TCO) is a primary factor, as are supplier capability and past performance, quality, and risk. Considerations that favor buying technology are suppliers' research and specialized know-how or supplier after-sale service and support, maintenance, and upgrades. Considerations that favor a decision to make a technological solution to meet a Client or IT need are protection of Postal Service intellectual property, or special needs for software, hardware, parts, or other components.

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