The Power of Phase I

The Power of Phase I

If you have been an IT leader for any length of time, it is in inevitable that you will have projects that fail. Let’s define failure as any project that fails to meet time, budget, or deliverable expectations. It is especially tough in the mid-market space since we are more likely to depend on vendors than our fortune 1000 counterparts, but no company is immune from problem projects.

One of the best ways I have found to reduce the inherent risk of project failures is to always think in terms of Phase I.


Phase I can be a proof of concept, an assessment, or a consulting engagement designed to discover and document requirements that can be used to reduce risk for the next phase of the project. There should be no expectation from the vendor performing the phase I engagement that they will become the vendor of choice for the next phase of the project – although it shouldn’t necessarily preclude them either. You just need to be careful that they are presenting you with unbiased information and not coloring or distorting the findings to sway the next phase in their direction.

The Stage-Gate Approach

Projects of any significance in terms of scope, impact, or investment, should never receive just one approval. Multiple stage-gates can be part of the governance process for complex and high-dollar projects, but even smaller projects should have at least one as part of the overall design and requirements review.

A good Phase 1 stage-gate design allocates just enough budget to accomplish the following:

  • Discover and document all functional and non-functional requirements
  • Create and document a design that meets all requirements, or identifies gaps
  • Identifies all hardware, software, resources, and third-party vendors that will be needed to complete the project
  • Compares the design and all known costs to the original budget and business case

Only after completing these steps can an informed go/no-go decision be made based on validating the original project and budget assumptions. The output of the Phase 1 stage-gate can be used to develop requests-for-quotes (RFQs) for smaller projects, and request-for-proposals (RFPs) for larger initiatives. Larger projects may also justify several phase-gates after the following steps:



  • Create a paid Phase 1 initiative for a vendor to conduct a wireless site survey to determine the equipment needed for coverage, and then send the design document out to several providers for proposals. If you are paying for the wireless survey and design, there should be no expectation that you are going to use the same vendor for the complete project, although it is certainly an option.
  • Use an experienced independent contractor to discover and document requirements for a new software package, such as financial reporting. Take those requirements and turn them into an RFQ , or RFP, and send it out to 2-3 potential candidates. Conduct your Phase1 go/no-go based on the completed proposals and select the winner. The caution for these types of projects is to not use a company to build the RFP that also sells one of the proposed solutions since the proposal might be biased in that direction. Independent contractors are sometimes better in this instance.
  • Use a cybersecurity assessment to build a security program roadmap, prioritizing certain investments over 6 month or annual periods.
  • Utilize a Phase 1 assessment to develop requirements that can be used to determine the best fit for a managed service provider.
  • Utilize a Business Impact Assessment to feed into a disaster recovery initiative.
  • Create a Phase I project to assess the capabilities of your data center and use that to drive additional projects to increase maturity

The power of Phase I comes from its ability to utilize a small investment up front to identify and reduce risks before they become the cause of your next failed project. As you go through your next budgeting process, think in terms of multiple project phases and reduce risk, stress, and precious business capital.





Solution Provider Spotlight – TB Consulting


Why we like TB Consulting
TB Consulting believes in the notion of partnership, with their clients, with their vendor partners, and with their team.  With clients, TBC invests the time to fully understand the business drivers, the current state of IT, and any gaps within the organization before proposing a solution. TBC then proposes a plan to address the gaps and create a roadmap.  TBC has extensive resources and subject matter experts in each practice area, capable of bringing thought leadership to client business and IT challenges.

Company Name: TB Consulting
Founded:  1996
Status: Private
Number of Employees:  50+
Headquarters: Scottsdale, AZ
Regions of Operations:  Pacific, Southwest
CEO:  Dieter Gable

Company Overview
TBC brings innovative solutions to our clients’ IT and Business challenges through innovation, passion, and partnership mentality.

For 21 years TBC has been helping our clients thrive by ensuring that their IT team has the People, Process, and Technology necessary to address their IT initiatives and meet their business objectives.

We make sure that the mid-market clients have access to the same technologies that the Enterprise does by enabling fractional consumption models, making them affordable and easy to implement and utilize.

As a leading IT consulting firm we provide a full range of managed IT services that enable the business success of an organization, while containing the cost of its technology. Our clients turn to us when they have a challenging IT problem to solve, or they need to supplement their in-house staff with a particular area of expertise. Our IT consulting firm has a reputation for developing customized, current and reliable information technology solutions that deliver long-term bottom-line results.

Solutions or Services

  • IT Service Management
  • Cybersecurity – Full suite
  • Business Impact Analysis
  • Monitoring, Maintenance, and Management
  • Cloud Strategy
  • Desktop as a Service
  • Infrastructure as a Service
  • SD-WAN

Target Customer
Mid-Market, Government, Nonprofits. We have especially strong relations with companies within the Healthcare and Financial sectors.

Contact Information
Email Address:
Physical Address: 8328 E Hartford Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Phone number: 602.263.8921


Solution Provider Spotlight – Trace3


Why we like Trace3
Trace3 might have started out life like a lot of other VARs, but they have pulled ahead of the pack as an innovation leader in the reseller space. Trace3 was named Cisco’s innovation partner of the year in 2014, they host their own annual conference, Evolve, and they introduce CIOs to emerging technology through their connection to Silicon Valley’s VC and startup communities. With a 7/1 Tech-to-Sales ratio, they sure don’t look like your traditional VAR.

Company Name: Trace3
Founded: 2002
Status: Private
Last Year’s Revenue: $500M+
Number of Employees:  350
Headquarters: Irvine, CA
Regions of Operations: US
CEO: Tyler Beecher

Company Overview
As a Transformative IT Authority, Trace3 is the premier provider of IT solutions and consultation services.

Through elite engineering and dynamic innovation, we empower executives and organizations to keep pace within the IT/corporate landscape through the transformative power of IT.

Solutions or Services

  • Data Center Solutions
  • Data Intelligence
  • IT Security
  • Project Services
  • Network Solutions
  • Emerging Tech

Target Customer
Mid Market & Enterprise

Contact Information
Corporate – Orange County
7565 Irvine Center Dr
Suite 200
Irvine, CA 92618

Solution Provider Spotlight – NextNet Partners


Why we like NextNet Partners
Culture. People.
Most companies say they have the best people and have built a great culture. When you work with NextNet, that truth becomes reality when you achieve results through great interactions with their team.

Company Name: NextNet Partners
Founded: 2011
Status: Private
Last Year’s Revenue: NA
Number of Employees:  25-50
Headquarters: Tempe, AZ
Regions of Operations: Pacific, SouthWest
CEO: Phil Calzadilla

Company Overview
Founded in 2011, NextNet Partners is an IT Consulting Company that is also a NMSDC-certified, minority-owned, small business, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona. We innovate and provide business outcomes for our clients using next generation network technologies with the best people in the business.

Cisco’s Breakaway Partner of the Year Award – Pacific Southwest 2016 . Phoenix’s Top Minority-Owned Tech Firms – Phoenix Business Journal . Appointed to Cisco Channel Partners Advisory Board CCABO . Best Places to Work – Phoenix Business Journal 2015 . CRN Fast Growth 150 #8 . Most Admired Leaders Award 2015 . Cisco Enterprise Growth Partner of the Year 2015 . Cisco Desert Select Security Partner of the Year 2015

Solutions or Services

  • Cisco Networks
  • Data Center
  • Unified Communication
  • IT Security

Target Customer
Mid Market, Enterprise, Public Sector

Contact Information
7855 S River Pkwy #121
Tempe, AZ 85284

United States (US)
Phone: (602) 247-8600

How Does Your IT Vendor Measure Up?

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Section1 has launched and we are crowd-sourcing ratings from IT Leaders on the IT Providers that they have experiences with. Come take a look at the ratings on the companies below and rate a couple of your own. Additionally, we have profiles on all the top solution providers in the country. Free registration for IT Leaders!

MATRIX Resources
TransWest Network Solutions
MDI Group
Frog Design
Redsky Solutions
National Cabling Technologies
Atrilogy Solutions Group
TB Consulting
IO Phoenix Data Center
Dimension Data
Clearpath Solution Group
Catapult Technology
Veritra, Inc
Dell Services
ETS – Enterprise Technology Services, Phoenix
Slalom Consulting
HP Enterprise Services
Dell Services
Syndeo Technology
Tata Consultancy Services
Point B
Sentinel Technologies
Solu Technology Partners

Staffing-as-a-Service instead of Outsourcing

55178192 - staffing employee human resources manpower concept


Agile development is all about capacity – how many stories can you get through the chicklet engine in a given period, do you push or pull it, and what is your burn-down rate. And whether we are talking application development, infrastructure, database management, etc., sometimes all we need is additional capacity. Cheap capacity. Because that IT budget is not getting any larger for traditional IT due to the rapid diverting of business dollars to digital innovation.

One way to handle this is by augmenting your staff with cheaper offshore or nearshore resources. While completely outsourcing a function is still challenging and is fraught with risk, adding additional capacity with cheap offshore/nearshore resources is a good way to prop up your teams that are struggling with keeping up with demand.

But what if your demands change over time and where you once needed help with software development, now your infrastructure team is struggling? In comes SaaS, Staffing-as-a-Service. Instead of having to go back to the CEO or CFO and ask (fight) for additional funds, wouldn’t it be easier if you could simply switch out your offshore developers for infrastructure or DBA resources as needed for no additional costs? This is Staffing-as-a-Service.

We are probably all getting tired of hearing about “-as-a-Service” acronyms, but Staffing-as-a-Service is no different than SaaS at it’s core. SaaS is popular because you can scale up and down on demand and you sometimes uncover amazing customer experiences. You should expect nothing less from your outsourcing provider and have it written into your contracts. We have been able to uncover a couple of companies who do this well, back it up with a contract, and provide those amazing customer experiences. You should be able to find them as well if you search in the right places, wink – wink!