Strategic Sourcing ◦ Total spend optimisation, it’s not all about direct price

In this blog post, Ahmed AboulGheit, Head of Sourcing at Digis Squared, shares his insights into the Strategic Sourcing Consultancy we deliver. This capability is just part of the Consultancy work we undertake, and this blog provides an insight into how we help our clients bridge the gaps between service providers and new technologies, and enable smarter networks.

What is Strategic Sourcing Consultancy?

“An efficient and capable multi-purpose multi-tool in your toolkit!,” explains Ahmed.

The Strategic Sourcing Consultancy we deliver covers six key areas,

  1. Spend optimisation planning – using different scenarios to forecast and plan.
  2. Communication and alignment across departments and multiple operating businesses.
  3. End to end Sourcing process review and tuning.
  4. Scope formalisation, to ensure end-to-end coverage, and eliminate gaps in delivery and support.
  5. Terms and Conditions review and validation, ensuring appropriate vendor liability is defined and avoiding any risks to the client.
  6. Tender process validation and governance: everything from process definition to tender documentation writing and issuance, selection processes and assessments, regulatory obligations, and all aspects of governance.

Total spend optimisation, it’s not all about direct price

You might be surprised to read that, but it’s true! Often, there are times when gaps in the contract reveal themselves partway through project delivery, meaning that extra budget needs to be granted for the project to be successfully completed. To mitigate this, your Sourcing Team need to have a deep understanding of the technical requirements, as well as their commercial implications and the contractual liabilities that have to be set on vendors. Achieving a good contracted price on the front page of the contract is often defined as success, but Strategic Sourcing looks at the optimisation of total spend, across the entire project lifecycle.

This blog focuses on scope formalisation, as that is a hot topic with many of our clients currently.

Scope formalisation

This subject is critical to ensuring robust, practical and well drafted contracts. No-one wants to work within a contract framework that is full of gaps, ambiguity and misunderstanding – relationships will quickly unravel, co-operation become strained, and ultimately customer experience will be impacted and extra budget needs will pop up. This is particularly true within telecoms infrastructure projects, where different generations of technologies from multiple vendors are sitting alongside each other, and technical interoperability problems are a normal part of the scope of all projects. Additionally, internal and external scope responsibilities intersect, and compromise and priorities need to be balanced.

To avoid this, scope formalisation plays a vital part of the development of the contract framework. Identifying the correct stakeholders and setting the project lifecycle helps manage expectations and boundaries. Defining the requirements with all stakeholders, while challenging them to ensure there are no gaps is vital to ensuring a successful project. Keep an open mind, be curious and explore ambiguity: what if this happens?, what about that situation? Revealing uncertainty in the scope, and clarifying or mitigating for it is an important component of scope formalisation.

Methodically classifying the scope into internal and external responsibilities helps reveal a clearer understanding of the stakeholders’ interests and priorities. The detailed work of translating their requirements into meaningful contractual conditions, while retaining clear engineering objectives is critical to scope formalisation. All of these elements are key aspects to consider and take care of, and the skill and expertise of Strategic Sourcing staff are vital to help you to best design and achieve them.

Scope formalisation requires a deep understanding of both Engineering and Contractual languages. Strategic Sourcing staff in the Telecom industry provide the vital role in understanding, challenging, clarifying and formalising the translation. A sound knowledge of Engineering language is needed to understand the end-to-end scenario from the technical guys in the team, and then translate it into contractual conditions that would make the vendors fully liable on the targeted scope with full protection to the client if not fulfilled.

Addressing unforeseen issues

Having done all of that work, we should also be realistic – we are usually dealing with new systems and technologies being integrated into unique and complex telecoms ecosystems. As the project progresses, there will be issues that even the best brains cannot imagine in advance! So how to solve this and ensure there are no gaps in delivery or support?

It is vital to define an issue resolution path from the beginning. Good Project Governance, alongside an issue resolution process, goes hand in hand with project KPIs and milestones, and helps ensure that the total cost of the project is managed. These pragmatic steps are a core part of scope formalisation, and together ensure that excellent working relationships are achieved throughout this project, so that the next project becomes even easier!

Strategic Sourcing Model

The total spend optimisation activity I’ve shared here is just a part of the work undertaken within Strategic Sourcing; the model below illustrates other typical components. However, this type of model is simply a starting point, as sourcing and vendor management should ideally be seen as an ongoing relationship, in which there are sometimes discrete projects and activities, which form a part of a bigger picture.

At Digis Squared, some of the work we undertake for clients helps to bridge the gaps which can arise when a project is defined too narrowly. In these situations, the rush to optimise a price can cause friction and misunderstanding within the project team; gaps in scope definition and project requirements can lead to project delays and increased costs further down the line. Our deep undertaking of multi-vendor systems and technologies, and our ability to understand both the technical and commercial language of contracts helps ensure that our clients avoid these gaps, or resolve them if we are brought in later.

Use our expertise to assist your team

The team here at Digis Squared have significant experience and expertise in strategic sourcing, vendor management and project commercial governance. Indeed, the executive team which founded the Digis Squared business almost 5 years ago, all felt passionately that addressing these gaps between vendors and network operators, was vital to ensuring improved customer experience and efficient business operations. I really enjoy being part of this team, and working with clients so that together we can optimise their contracts and processes.

AI enhancement of capacity management: what’s next?

Today, we use an open-loop control system to apply our AI methods. However, as predictive model accuracy improves, we anticipate transitioning to a fully automated Self-Organized Network (SON) – enabling closed-loop network management with self-planning, self-configuration, self-optimization, and self-healing – system in the near future.

In conversation with Ahmed AboulGheit, Head of Sourcing at Digis Squared.

Ahmed has worked in and led international procurement teams in the telecoms sector since 2005 working alongside major consultancy firms, within multidisciplinary, agile teams. At Digis Squared he manages our contracts, sourcing, partner management and pricing activities, and supports our teams with consultancy in this field.

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email .

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

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Image credit: Mohamed M

Technology sunset ◦ Navigating a route from legacy networks to the future

In conversation with Digis Squared CTO, Abdulrahman Fady, we discuss mobile network technology sunset issues and opportunities.

As 5G rollouts gather pace globally, and new technology deployments continue their unstoppable march, many networks are also grappling with what to do about legacy technologies. In 1991 Radiolinja launched 2G in Finland, and 2001 brought the first 3G launch, achieved by NTT DoCoMo in Japan – both network technologies are still in active commercial use around the world, but for how much longer?

Abdulrahman Fady, CTO at Digis Squared, has worked in the technology sector for more than 20 years, and joined Digis Squared in 2018. In this blog post he shares his analysis of mobile network migration strategy and implementation in the context of network technology sunset issues and opportunities.

“Spectrum resources are finite, and operators wanting to launch new technologies need to either license new spectrum, if available, or re-allocate spectrum used for 2G and 3G. In most regions now re-allocation is the only option.”

“These old legacy technologies, 2G and 3G, they’ve been around for so long, that it’s tempting to think you could just switch them off and re-allocate the spectrum when utilisation drops below a certain threshold. But these old technologies continue to serve some really important markets. Firstly, low-income families often utilise older handsets which can only connect to 2G or 3G networks, and these provide a vital connection to the internet and mobile apps, across all geographic regions. These older handsets also tend to be simpler – appreciated by elderly users who don’t seek the complexity of smartphones.”

“And secondly, IoT. Early IoT deployments are often limited to only being able to connect to 2G or 3G networks, and physical replacement in many IoT use cases is frequently prohibitively expensive or geographically difficult.”

But some networks have already decommissioned their 2G networks – particularly Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. How did they achieve that?

“In Australia and New Zealand it’s the MNOs which have driven their 2G shut down. A low number of 2G M2M customers and the relative wealth of their consumer customers has mitigated most of their risks, but care still needs to be taken in this type of situation. If you are the first operator in a territory to switch off the old legacy network, you effectively force the churn of those 2G-only customers who won’t or can’t upgrade to your competitors – and so if you’re the last operator to switch off your 2G network, you might well have “acquired” all the low ARPU, low margin 2G consumers and IoT connections. Depending on the region, the regulator may intervene to force the maintenance of a rationalised legacy network, with lower capacity and coverage for low demand but critical IoT infrastructure, and vulnerable low income groups.”

“Other Asian countries have worked with regulator-led projects to decommission 2G, and reallocate network spectrum. But the commercial elements of these projects are not easy: M2M migration costs had to be negotiated in Singapore, New Zealand had to facilitate individual migrations, and continue to support a million smart meter connections.”

There are other commercial impacts too. “Mini-links and other microwave services on base stations were able to handle voice-only 2G and 3G demand, but when 2G and particularly 3G services are switched-off this drives an increase in demand for backbone services, and this in turn reduces the need for tower services, backhaul and transmission services.”

“In Europe, conversely, 3G networks are being turned off first, as there are a greater number of legacy M2M connections in the territory. These 3G devices can default down to the earlier 2G technology – a fallback strategy initially conceived to address coverage issues when 3G first launched, is now helping the more advanced technology become obsolete earlier!”

Partnering for change

“Whenever a network is switched off, the impacts on the remaining technologies will be considerable,” Abdulrahman explains. “Typically the switch off is more of a switch-over, as cell capacity is first reduced and then de-commissioned. Re-balancing and optimisation of the network loads is active and ongoing throughout the transition process, being undertaken with care to achieve minimum disruption. Working with strong, experienced partners in both the strategy and implementation phases, who can flexibly handle projects as unexpected issues arise, is crucial. Add multi-vendor network components into the mix, and the benefits of working with staff who have experience across all vendors and technologies can be vital to achieving a smooth network migration.”


“Whilst technology sunsets can initially seem complex, with careful consideration and planning, the process will deliver considerable benefits. The new network technologies reduce power usage and carbon footprint, and deliver enhanced speed, bandwidth and security. And, as day follows night, it is inevitable – it’s always better to be prepared and ready to make the most of the opportunity a new day brings!”

In conversation with Abdulrahman Fady, Digis Squared CTO.

Discover more

If you would like to learn more about how the Digis Squared team can help you with technology sunset and 5G strategy, deployment or optimisation, please use this link or email to arrange an informal chat.

Keep up to speed with company updates, product launches and our quarterly newsletter, sign up here.

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.



  • CAT-M1: see LTE-M.
  • NB-IoT: Narrowband Internet of Things. One of two data networking technologies available on 4G (the other is LTE-M, aka CAT-M1). Intended for narrow band (250 kbps) low power data applications and does not support voice communications.
  • LTE-M: LTE Machine Type Communication. Also known as Cat-M1. One of two data networking technologies available on 4G (the other is NB-IoT). Provides considerably higher bandwidth (1Mbps), supports voice and full mobility.

Image credit: Quino Al

Regulators ◦ Now more than ever, use independent tools and expertise

Is this the perfect storm of telecoms technical complexity?

As network deployments get more complex, capacity management more difficult to predict, and customer demands rise, how can Telecoms Regulators help deliver the best customer experience?

Globally, 5G deployments are picking up pace, and 2G and 3G networks starting to be retired – engineers at MNOs and CSPs* are knee-deep in complexity, managing technology sunset strategies, IoT connectivity migrations, and adding new layers of 5G components into the patchwork of systems from multiple vendors. This activity brings with it more new operational systems and alarms to integrate (and disentangle), and extra work to try to bring everything together into a cohesive system.

On top of that, the operational teams within MNOs and CSPs have been working hard this year to reconfigure networks to handle shifts in demand, as the pandemic forces huge numbers of people to suddenly work and study from home, and unpredictable demand patterns are addressed as best as possible.

Is this the perfect storm of telecoms technical complexity? How should Telecoms Regulators respond and ensure customer Quality of Experience and Quality of Service are maintained? With so many technical changes occurring in a short space of time, how can technical regulatory staff keep pace with technology, anticipate the future, and ensure their knowledge-base remains unbiased?

Digis Squared has over 50 industry experts with 10 or more years’ multinational mobile operator and vendor experience.

Use our expertise to work alongside your teams and augment their skills and capability,

  • Independent tools for QoE & QoS network benchmarking
  • Band & spectrum strategy consultation
  • Competence development to keep pace with new technologies.

“The Digis Squared team has a depth of experience and knowledge of implementations that you only acquire through years of working on difficult projects and tricky technology deployments. The team bring these insights to all their work, whether that’s with MNOs, CSPs or Regulators.

Mohamed Hamdy, Digis Squared CCO

Independent tools for QoE & QoS network benchmarking

Regulatory coverage and performance concerns vary by market, but in general fall into 3 distinct areas,

  1. Many telecom network licenses have requirements to achieve specific KPIs: Geographical coverage, data throughput rates, QoS requirements.
  2. Legacy benchmarking solutions are often expensive, no longer supported by the vendor, and have a long and slow process to deliver the final report.
  3. When the report is eventually available, it is often a readout of dry statistics, with no clear recommendations on improvements. And with multiple solutions from multiple vendors implemented across the MNOs and CSPs in your territory, there is no standard process to rank and compare network operators.

Since the inception of Digis Squared the leadership team decided to invest and develop its own in-house, vendor-agnostic, multi-technology and scalable automated solutions, to ensure its staff and clients have access to vendor-independent assessment and testing of networks. Today, we are able to provide our clients with these tools to ensure they have an independent assessment of network capabilities. MNOs use our tools to help them accelerate network upgrades and network transformation, ensuring they are able to manage their network traffic growth and network complexity efficiently. Regulators use our tools to ensure they have the insights they need to assess KPIs independently.

INOS is the AI-led QoS and QoE benchmarking tool developed in-house at Digis Squared, using no network vendor tools.

  • Automated and efficient solution for fast and accurate reporting
  • Analysis and recommendations on improvements
  • Cross-check performance against the license to help regulators identify the gaps
  • Proven in the field with MNOs and Regulators
  • Interacts with all major vendors’ platforms, including Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia
  • Covid19 safe solution: our tools need just one person in the vehicle or building – no engineers are needed on-site, ensuring that they can do their work safely and together we can keep our communities connected.

When used by Telecoms Regulators, INOS delivers,

  • One independent, vendor and network agnostic solution
  • Fully automated reports, just 15 minutes after tests end
  • Failure insights: empowered by automation and analytics, we can deliver detailed insights into failure reason
  • INOS BM score – rank and benchmark all operators, by all services tested, across all network technologies and vendors
  • Independent and transparent scrutiny: Operators can access INOS platform, with limited and agreed privileges to review their log files and reports.

INOS KPIs include, but are not limited to,

  • Coverage & quality radio conditions
  • Field KPIs: CST, CSSR, HOSR, CDR
  • Throughput DL & UL: FTP, HTTP, HTTPs
  • Voice quality: POLQA
  • Video Quality: PEVQs
  • OTTs KPIs
  • Adopted optimisation strategy
  • Overlapping and needed neighbours’ optimisation
  • UE Happy Index

Get in touch to talk with us informally about how we can help your Regulatory teams with independent tools and expertise for network benchmarking, and discover INOS here.

Band & spectrum strategy consultation

The Digis Squared team have decades of experience working in telecoms operators and telecom equipment providers, with huge experience across many countries, implementations, technology deployments, and vendor solutions. We can work alongside your teams, or independently, to share our insights and assess innovative and commercial uses of your spectrum, to ensure optimum utilisation in your market.

  • Assess the utilisation of all existing bands
  • Evaluate service usage and importance with stakeholders
  • Policy & procedure updates
  • Spectrum audit and redeployment strategies: identify, complement, and refine all data on national spectrum use
  • Future policy: balancing the needs of end-users and spectrum-users are met to encourage investment
  • Emerging technologies: implementation scenarios and spectrum allocation recommendations for 5G, WLAN, LPWA and more.

Competence development & training

We recognise the difficulties in identifying the vendor-independent training necessary to ensure your teams are not unconsciously biased towards specific solutions.

Our team of experienced staff are well placed to deliver a broad range of technical and non-technical training.

Our approach for competence development utilises different methods to best suit the client, their culture and team needs, with an emphasis on on-job training as well as classroom training, delivered as active, participatory workshops and webinars by our technology experts. We can deliver training on-site, remotely via video link, or in your own time via online material.

Get in touch to arrange a no-obligation discussion with our team, or request a copy of our Technical Training Catalogue:

“In my view, it’s more important than ever that Telecoms Regulators use independent expertise and tools in their assessments, to ensure they have a complete view of their ecosystem, and prepare for whatever storms are on the horizon.”

Mohamed Hamdy, Digis Squared CCO

Now more than ever, use independent tools and expertise in regulatory assessments.

To discuss how our independent tools and vendor-agnostic expertise can help your Regulatory Teams, please use this link or email to arrange a video call.

Keep up to speed with company updates, product launches and our quarterly newsletter, sign up here.

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.


  • CSP: Communications Service Providers
  • INOS: Intelligent Network Optimisation Solution, one of Digis Squared’s AI-led automated tools.
  • MNO: Mobile Network Operator
  • QoE: Quality of Experience
  • QoS: Quality of Service

Image credit: Michael D.