Note - 2015 started with an exciting project within the Information Technology (IT) Sourcing practice at Source One. A client required our thought leadership and Strategic Sourcing expertise with a highly visible initiative to outsource their Help Desk, Application Support, and IT infrastructure services such as data center management, network support, and IT security.
The Strategic Sourcerer plans to keep a diary throughout this project to inform our readers of the processes and methodologies Source One uses when running an IT outsourcing project. It will highlight the challenges of outsourcing a major part of any company’s organization, and what can be done from a project management, information technology, and sourcing perspective to mitigate risk, stay on schedule, create a robust RFP, manage bidders, and ultimately come to a decision on a partner our client can trust to manage highly visible business critical applications while providing best in class service to the business.
Outsourcing I.T. is a daunting task for any company. To be clear, migrating any aspect of a business to a managed service provider (MSP) is more than just a tactical shift, but a cultural shift as well. Source One has led hundreds of managed service projects for our clients over the years. We know that there is no clear path from point A to point B in terms of sourcing a single managed service provider. An outsourcing initiative can be somewhat straight-forward if a company has a proven set of processes, methodologies, and metrics for providing support. If it doesn’t however, then an additional set of complexities become integrated into the project when communicating the current state of the client to those MSPs who will be bidding on the work.
The client is a multi-billion dollar global life sciences and pharmaceutical company that had experienced rapid growth over the past five years. The client currently has numerous (more than a dozen) managed service vendors supporting the Help Desk, various applications, and infrastructure support services throughout the entire organization. The client currently organizes its application stacks according by business units, such as research and development, enterprise business support, and marketing and analytics. All application service providers rely upon a subset of shared infrastructure operation services and testing services. Each business unit area is responsible for providing functional Application Production Support Services.
The client’s infrastructure operation services group is responsible for providing not only data center and infrastructure production support but also communication, video conference, telephony, email, and other user enablement tools.
The client utilizes multiple providers for helpdesk services which include home office and field based employees. In addition, there is currently a cross-functional testing service that is utilized for projects and some application support activities to develop system test scripts, execute system testing, develop and execute user acceptance test, etc. The testing service also currently helps to support the development of some IT system validation deliverables.
Development of individual application production support services has led to these services being inconsistently operationalized. Although there is a common SDLC methodology in the form of a set of IT SOPs there is an inconsistent maturity related to the service management capabilities across the application service areas. Since a disparate set of providers has been utilized with different contractual obligations it is difficult for the client to drive towards proper service management as well as reliably measure performance in a manner that can be easily assessed and compared.
In addition, it has been difficult to manage the increasing complexity of the client’s application portfolio. It is comprised of internally hosted applications, SaaS applications, and externally hosted applications. In addition, the number of business partners, business service providers, and staff augmentation workers has increased significantly over the last few years. This has an impact on the number of people who need access to different systems which makes user management, account management, and system access quite challenging. Having a large number of disparate service providers does not simplify this ecosystem.
The client’s business units have operated either independently or locally. It is only recently that different business units have begun to operate with more communication, coordination, and as regional units. The client’s IT organization currently does not operate globally but is beginning to communicate better between its various locations around the world.
So the client’s challenges are clear. They are behind the curve in terms of globalizing their organization and are currently utilizing many vendors to provide -in some cases- duplicative services with no unified set of processes across the business. This model is providing inconsistent service, fails to provide service quality metrics to management, is difficult to manage from a contracting standpoint, and is costly.
In part two of this diary, we will discuss what the client’s end goal for managed IT support is, as well as how we developed the RFP for them, the pre-qualification of potential bidders, and the challenges we are facing providing a clear and concise description of the needs of our client.