This paper discusses a recent sourcing assignment completed by TitanICT, the approach that was followed and some of the key findings anddrivers that eventuated in a decision to insource services that werebeing delivered by an external service provider.

Start Date: May 2013
Project Name: Sourcing review and transition to new model
Completion: March 2014

Project Overview

One of Titan ICT Consultants (Titan ICT) core capabilities is to provide a range of Strategic Sourcing and Transition Services for our clients.

These services can include Business Case Development, Contract and Vendor Management and Review, Development of Tender Requirements, Management of the Tender and Evaluation process, Transitioning Services to the new Sourcing Model and Benefits Realisation Services.

This paper discusses a recent sourcing assignment completed by Titan ICT, the approach that was followed and some of the key findings and drivers that eventuated in a decision to insource services that were being delivered by an external service provider.

With a clear trend these days to outsource wherever possible, a decision to insource the services did not seem a likely recommendation at the outset of the assignment, however as this paper shows, you need to look carefully at each situation.

In this case, it was not about the service provider not performing well or being expensive, rather that the client’s environment had changed and there was a need to re-evaluate the current sourcing strategy to determine if there was a model that would deliver better value for money in this changed environment and drive improved customer satisfaction.

Background

Titan ICT was engaged by a public sector agency to provide several ofthese services. The agency had a contract in place with a Tier 1 serviceprovider for a range of managed infrastructure services and the initialcontract period now had less than 12 months remaining.

The Agency needed to consider its future options oncethe initial contract period expired. There were threepossibilities and these were to:

OptionDescription
Extend Extend the current contract fora further 12 month period. Thecontract allowed for up to 2x12month extensions to be exercised.
Re-tender Divide the current services intoseveral bundles and take theseto the market to look for separateexternal parties to deliver eachbundle;Go back to the market for a similarset of managed infrastructureservices to be delivered by asingle service provider throughan open tender process; orGo back to the market for a similarset of managed infrastructureservices through an open tenderprocess.
Transitionin-house Bring the services in-house.

The scope of our initial engagement was to reviewthe current contract for the managed infrastructureservices and make a recommendation on a futuresourcing strategy that improved service delivery andpotentially reduce cost.

1. Current State Assessment

There were four key criteria that needed to be understood before qualifying the potential sourcing options, which were:

Is the Current Contract delivering Best Value for Money?

The first task was to review the current contract to establish whether it was delivering best value for money. The steps undertaken were to:

  • Review delivery performance against the existing set of Service Level Agreements (SLAs);
  • Develop a cost model to determine the likely current costs incurred by the Service Provider against the monthly charge for baseline services paid by the client. This will determine if the charges are fair and reasonable;
  • Develop a cost model to determine the likely market price for the same services from other service providers. This model was based on Titan’s Consultants knowledge of the local market and publicly available information of industry research houses;
  • Develop a cost model to determine the likely cost to deliver the same services in-house; and
  • From the structure of the contract and the services being delivered, determine the key activities approximate costs, key activities and timeframe that would be required to smoothly transition the services from the current service provider.

By undertaking this level of analysis, it would then become easier to justify later decisions with detailed supporting data.

Are the Business stakeholders satisfied with the current level of service delivery?

Many of the key business stakeholders were interviewed one-on-one to understand what they expected by way of service delivery under the existing arrangement and what their level of satisfaction was with the current service.

Have there been changes to the environment that might impact the services being provided and the skills required to support them?

It is important to understand what changes may have occurred within the environment being managed by the service provider since the start of the contract. For example, in this particular case, a sustained program of standardisation had been undertaken to transition the environment from a number of point solutions and "non industry standard" technologies and platforms to a far more standardised environment that should be significantly easier and less costly to support.

If going back to market was to be a consideration, who would be interested?

An important dynamic in determining the likelihood of an outsourcing option being successful, is how attractive the opportunity would be to a potential service provider and what type of service providers would be interested. Key questions a service provider might ask when qualifying the opportunity include:

  • What existing relationships do we have?
  • What is the size of the organisation and is their industry sector core business for us?
  • What revenue growth potential exists?
  • Are their technologies mainstream and are they a technology driven organisation?
  • Do the services being requested map to our core skills?
  • What level of risk exists and how can this be mitigated.

The reason for the client to consider this question at this early stage was to start thinking ahead about the attractiveness of the opportunity to the market and not to assume things. If there is a need to moderate industry perception, generate interest, or shape the way the opportunity is presented to the market, then this will take time and planning.

2. Analysis of Findings

From the work completed during the assessment of the current state, an in-depth analysis of the findings was undertaken.

Cost Model

Considerable time was spent developing a number of cost models to firstly determine whether the current arrangement with the external service provider delivered better value for money when compared with the other options.

The cost models were used to determine the number of resources required within each technology stream or service process to support the current environment. For each option, costs were divided into both one-off capital costs (Capex) for items such as software tools or software licenses and on-going operational costs (Opex) for the monthly baseline service fee and any ad-hoc service requests.

Whilst cost was not necessarily the key driver for possible change, it was an important factor.

Platforms and Technologies

During the period the current contract had been in place, the client had undertaken a significant program of work to migrate to more mainstream technologies including:

  • Migration of applications from a mainframe to a more contemporary platform and
  • decommissioning of the mainframe;
  • Virtualisation of the Server environment;
  • Introduction of a new contemporary storage environment and management suite;
  • New desktop SOE; and
  • Migration to Microsoft applications for all desktop productivity applications and desktop management tools.

Each of these changes was driven by the client and as a result of this they had developed considerable internal IT skills in these areas.

Delivery Model

Another key factor in determining best value for money was to clearly understand the scope of the current services being delivered by the service provider and what services were being delivered internally. There were three IT environments to be supported, these being Production, Test and Development.

What became clear was that the client was supporting some platforms, technologies or systems across each of the three environments meaning they had within their own staff at least some people with technical skills across most technologies. Therefore, even if the service provider was unable to service their client, the client could continue to function for an extended period of time, with perhaps some impact on service levels.

Market Alignment

Titan undertook an assessment of the market attractiveness of the client, together with a market scan of possible service providers. We determined that those that would find the opportunity most attractive would be Tier 2 service providers looking to maintain or grow their local presence.

The client would also be attractive to a Tier3 service provider that is in growth mode and look for another premium client, however for the client, this provided additional risk.

Sourcing Drivers

From the analysis undertaken, it was determined that the options to extend the current contract, to take the services to market as a multi-source option, or to pursue an inter-Government option were all discarded.

This left the sourcing decision to be between an Outsource option for similar services, and an Insource option.

The diagram below outlines the key drivers for each of these options.

driverssourcing

Transition

For either an Insource or Outsource option, it was determined that there was a significant program of work required in preparation for either change, and this was bundled into a “Transition Program of Work”.

This program contained three key components, with each component containing several Streams of work as shown in the diagram below. This program of work was to be the responsibility of an experienced Program Manager who can drive the overall program outcomes without becoming bogged down in day-today operational issues.

ComponentStream
People

Skills Readiness People Readiness Communications

Process

Service Readiness Process Readiness

Technology Toolset Readiness

Each Stream was to be allocated a Stream owner, responsible for the management of that Stream. Therefore the effort could be spread over several people and allow them to absorb this activity within their normal work load: minimising the risk of schedule slippage through non-availability of key staff.

A Risk Assessment workshop was undertaken for each of the above options. Several of the key risks were common to multiple options and related primarily to being able to warrant:

  • Availability of business applications
  • Access to key skills
  • Responsiveness to incidents and problems
  • A smooth transition to a new sourcing model

Early identification and assessment of these risks helped to ensure that mitigation plans could be developed early and included within the transition planning process to the new sourcing model.

3. Recommendations and Findings

The development of a set of final recommendations is where the rubber really meets the road. The recommendations needed to stand up to detailed scrutiny and also take into account internal and external factors such as:

  • acceptance by staff, both IT staff and business users of the selected the sourcing option;
  • changes required to organisational structure within the IT area to support the decision;
  • the organisational impact of a new sourcing strategy; and
  • possible changes in public sector funding which could impact an agency’s sourcing decision with little notice.

The recommendation from Titan ICT was to Insource the infrastructure services in order to:

  • Improve the responsiveness of IT services to internal business users and therefore assist them to better service their customers
  • Provide IT staff with improved career opportunities
  • Develop the culture of IT within the organisation to be more customer service focused
  • Realise a significant year-on-year reduction in Opex

A business case was subsequently developed to support the Insource decision and was presented to the Executive for endorsement. This was coupled with a detailed transition plan and associated costs, risks and mitigation requirements.

The key risks and mitigating actions were:

Risk AreaMitigation

Availability of business applications

Implementation and documentation of the processes and tools required to ensure high availability of the business applications

Access to key skills

Development of a skills augmentation plan to supplement internal resources as required

Responsiveness to issues

Selection and implement a service management tool and develop supporting ITIL processes

Transition to new sourcing model

Development and execution of a tightly designed and executed transition plan to the insource model

The decision to Insource was communicated to the current external service provider along with their expected contribution to the transition and the timing of this. Through diligent planning, the reliance on the external service provider was limited and was not therefore a significant risk factor.

Outcome

An internal Project Manager was appointed to oversee the transition of the services. A detailed plan for each stream was developed and executed, and the final transition of the services to the Insource model was completed and fully operational ahead of the contract expiry date. Titan ICT Consultants retained an advisory role throughout the transition and assisted with sourcing the new Service Management tool.

Early feedback from internal customers is that the service is more responsive and customer focused than the previous model.

Whilst the decision to Insource the infrastructure services may have at first seemed unfashionable, the reasons for doing so were in this case well founded and the outcome a success.

For organisations that may be considering their sourcing options, the following factors should be taken into account:

  • How do I independently determine whether my current sourcing arrangement (Insourced or Outsourced) is giving you the best value, whist providing the level of customer service my internal and external customers are seeking?
  • What sourcing model best suits my organisation and my current and future needs?
  • What do I need to consider when changing from one model to another?

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