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Assess Technology Implications

Technology implications of proposals are inspected before award to ascertain how the solutions proposed by potential suppliers may affect Postal Service projects or programs.

The technology implications of a solution can have immediate and long-term effects on the Postal Service. The solution can lead the Postal Service to start using different applications, servers, or particular companies for supplies. Purchases for the remainder of a program may be affected by the solution.

The complexity and size of the purchase will dictate the time and effort spent checking the technology implications. To perform this check, the following areas must be considered:

The Postal Service personnel checking technical implications

Personnel's knowledge of the Postal Service

Feasibility of the supplier solution

Effect of the solution on the Postal Service

Viability of the solution and emerging technology

Personnel Checking the Technology Implications

The Purchase/SCM Team is responsible for the overall direction of the purchase. If appropriate, Postal Service technological resources (e.g., information technology [IT] personnel, engineers) should be included on this team, because the evaluation involves a highly technical product or service. The selected personnel should have the expertise to make technical judgments on the adequacy and relative value of the submitted proposals.

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Knowledge of the Postal Service

The success of the project should be defined in business terms, not in technical terms. When the Purchase/SCM Team checks the technology implications of the proposal, they must possess a thorough knowledge of the products or services the Postal Service plans to purchase. Such knowledge includes product features, especially those characteristics that are critical to the product's success or failure. Performing these checks will clearly identify technical implications in proposals.

The Postal Service staff should also know about the relevant projects, programs, and infrastructure that pertain to the solution.

Feasibility of the Supplier Solution

The proposal should be subject to rigorous checks to confirm that the solution complies with the Postal Service's technological standards and guidance. The potential supplier's proposal must demonstrate an understanding of the requirements and outline an approach to performing the work, as reflected in its:

Knowledge of the Postal Service mission and purchase objectives

Awareness of the environment in which the product will operate or the work will be done

Stated comprehension of work tasks

Proposed innovative solutions

Use of current technology and methodologies

Awareness of potential problem areas

Overall feasibility of the approach

Numerous questions will need to be asked. The Proposal Evaluation Team's knowledge of the solution is paramount to the success of the evaluation. It is important that the solution matches the needs of the Postal Service. Questions must be applicable to the purchase and can include:

Does the vision of the potential supplier's solution match the vision of the Postal Service?

What skills and resources does the potential supplier intend to employ?

Does the potential supplier rely heavily upon a labor-intensive process or operate at a level of automation that does not truly benefit the Postal Service?

Are the supplier's configuration management processes underpinned by a suitable configuration management tool?

Does the proposed infrastructure adhere to defined standards, including those for interoperability?

As necessary, the Contracting Officer is responsible for conducting any necessary discussions between the Postal Service and potential suppliers during the evaluation.

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Effect of the Solution on the Postal Service

The technological implications of the purchase can be numerous. Each area of the technology solution contains ramifications to the Postal Service.

Questions that should be asked and answered to gauge the implications of the solutions include:

Does the Postal Service have, or have access to, the necessary skills and competencies to support the intended technology-based solutions?

Will the following be affected: software/system interfaces, software configuration, engineering process, training, reviews, maintainability, coding standards, compliance with the requisite software engineering standards, new technologies, and new process support systems and tools?

What kind of technical support is needed to back up proposed services?

What is the functional depth and flexibility for complex customer relationships and segmentation?

What are the levels of skills and resources that have to be provided by the Postal Service to work with the supplier's development process?

What is the timetable for the development stage? How does this impact on the availability of the Postal Service's resources?

What is the suitability and extent of implementation work that will be required to deploy the software?

Will spare parts and peripheral components like batteries and replacement drives need to be kept?

What is the impact to the total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis?

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Viability of the Solution and Emerging Technology

When checking technical implications, the viability of the technology and emerging technologies should be considered (e.g., technical viability: a software product's architecture must be inherently flexible and able to keep pace with evolving technical standards). Suppliers that have stayed with proprietary and legacy technology are still in business today, but viability is questionable at best.

Emerging technology should also be a factor when selecting a solution. One common way to identify emerging technology trends is to follow the trails of strategic partnerships between companies. Analyzing the state of technology allows the Postal Service to be aware of implications of choosing a certain solution. Additional information appears in the Analyze State of Technology topic of the Decide on Make vs. Buy task of Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources.

Other Topics Considered

Conduct Market Research and Benchmarking Analysis topic, Decide on Make vs. Buy task, Process Step 1: Identify Needs

Analyze State of Technology topic, Decide on Make vs. Buy task, Process Step 1: Identify Needs

Hold Discussions topic, Evaluate Proposals task, Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources

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