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Leveraging ITSM in a Multi-Vendor Outsourced Enterprise

Sep 13, 2004

ITSM Watch Staff

By Rick Leopoldi

The following 4 areas should be focused on initially, and then continually reviewed and updated to ensure appropriate tactical and strategic management of multi-vendor outsourcing:

I) Scope and Benefit Analysis
Understanding the outsourcing requirements in high-level terms and the perceived benefits that are to be accomplished. Is it cost reduction, service improvement, or staff redeployment? Gain an understanding of the greatest benefit and if there are one or more areas that are easily implemented that will ensue the majority of the benefits.

What are the metrics needed to quantify and verify the benefit and has a TCO been done to confirm the potential benefit? Use these to determine if your organization's requirements match the capabilities of the prospect Outside Service Vendor.

II) Organization & Methods
It is essential to know what part of the organization and how many staff will be impacted by the outsourcing effort. This includes where the effected staff is located and what their roles and responsibilities are. They will have various levels of subject matter expertise and provide day-to-day operational functionality in all areas of ITSM Service Support and Service Delivery functions. It is necessary to understand thoroughly the level, scope, and maturity of these areas.

From an organizational standpoint understanding staff redeployment policy, in relation to outsourcing, and whether there is a Communication Plan in place to make them aware of outsourcing and it's impact, is essential.

From an operational perspective knowing which services/functions are platform independent and which are networked, and what formal interfaces/relationships will be required with other groups outside the scope of the outsourcing initiative from the operations, network, configuration management, data base administration, etc. will be needed.

Logistically, there are several areas that need to be understood such as, what is the main form of internal communication? Is it meetings, email, voice-mail, telephone? Is there an alignment between Outside Service Vendors and the organizational areas? Are there any Underpinning Contracts that are in place or need to be in place with Outside Service Vendors? And lastly, what Project Management tools and methodology is used?

III) Processing
Understand the current hardware processing configuration including how many processors and/or servers are currently installed and the configuration of each. This includes other peripherals such as tape drives/robots, CD-ROM's, and printers, etc. In addition, know how much network equipment is currently installed and its configuration.

From a software technology and applications perspective know the primary software sub-systems and the primary workloads for each large server and/or image, including whether these systems are production/development, MIS, DSS, online systems, OS test, etc.

In looking at Outside Service Vendors it is necessary to know which and to what level they support these processors and/or servers, and peripherals, whether they aware of any Service Level Agreements that are in place, and if there are any Underpinning Contracts in place or need to be in place.

From an operational processing perspective, determine whether disk storage is shared across platforms and if there a NAS or SAN. Clarify how data and storage backup/archive is managed, if there is a common printing/reporting strategy across platforms or if there are any other processing platforms.

IV) Service Delivery and Service Delivery
Determine and understand thoroughly the current service management policy, with special reference to Problem, Change, Release, and Service Level Management. This includes whether there is software in place and used to support ITSM for all areas of Service Support and Service Delivery and the level of expertise of the ITSM support staff.

For the specific area of Incident and Problem Management, determine what constitutes an incident/problem from the customer perspective, understand how are customer calls logged and handled by Service Desk and by 1st/2nd level support. These should be broken down by area such as OS, Network, hardware, software, application, etc.

Additionally it is important to know the proportion of incident and/or problems that are resolved within certain timeframes such as 1 hour, 1 day, etc. Further determine what are the problem escalation procedures and the policy regarding call-out/standby.

For the specific area of Change Management, knowing what constitutes a change and if there are regular Change Control meetings (and the associated processes), comprehension of which areas come under change control such as production/development, OS, hardware/software vendors, etc., the number of changes requests that are raised per month for different areas such as processors, OS, network, etc., and lastly the procedures for handling emergency changes.

One of the most critical areas to explore and understand thoroughly is Service Level Management. Determine whether there are formal Service Level Agreements in place with customers/users, Operational Level Agreements within and across IT, and Underpinning Contracts with Outside Service Vendors.

Understand the details within these agreements as well. Such as the normal service hours, the overall availability targets servers, OS, and network, and the end-to-end response time targets. From an historical availability perspective determine what has been the number of unscheduled outages that have occurred in the last 12 months and whether they were attributable to hardware, OS, system or application software, availability issues, environment, human error, performance degradation, etc. In addition, identify if there are there any penalties associated with unscheduled outages.

Determine the software installation and maintenance strategy (currency and frequency) if any, how often upgrades to the hardware platforms are expected, and if there are any scheduled outages available for hardware and software installation and testing.

For Disaster Recovery, determine if there is a plan in place and if so, is it based on a Business Impact Analysis (BIA), what level of Disaster Recovery testing is carried out, how regularly, and if there is a charge-back/accounting system in operation.
Critical Success Factors to Leverage ITSM in a Multi-Vendor Outsourced Environment
The following is a partial list of critical success factors to leverage ITSM in a multi-vendor outsourced environment:
  • ITSM has prime responsibility for the development best practice processes, project management, and for knowledge management of the best practice processes
  • ITSM has prime responsibility for the analysis and planning aspects that will be used develop the ITSM best practice processes for adherence by the Outside Services Vendors
  • These best practices will be implemented and supported by the appropriate organizational areas. Outside Service Vendors will adhere to these best practices
  • The ITSM project manager and other organizational project managers will work closely in the joint assessment, architecture, design, planning, implementation, and support of managing the multiple Outside Service Vendors
  • The internal organization ITSM and operational areas and the multiple Outside Service Vendors will be driven by the organizations unique requirements and needs
Utilizing IT Service Management best practice processes to better manage multi-vendor outsourced environment achieves the goals of the enterprise that are to provide the highest level of quality and consistent service at the lowest operational cost.

In addition, employing ITSM best practices will position IT as a service provider both tactically and strategically to the organization. This is critical to effectively and efficiently manage multiple outsourcing-vendors as well as address the critical areas that result in aligning IT to meet business requirements.

Rick Leopoldi is a Consultant/Trainer with FoxIT having many years experience in IT developing and delivering process, methods, and technology infrastructure ITIL/ITSM related consulting solutions to major organizations worldwide. Mr. Leopoldi has held senior consulting positions in Hewlett-Packard and Amdahl/Fujitsu Corp. He holds a BA in Mathematics, an MBA from the University of Hartford in Connecticut.