31 Mar 2014

Why Australian businesses will need expert Managed Services Providers more than ever before

According to Gartner Managing Vice-President Ian Bertram, the escalating interest in engaging with outsourcing as part of an IT strategy is placing pressure on an organisation’s access to the internal skills necessary to effectively operate environments that include Cloud and other managed services. In an interview with The Australian, Bertram said “I think this is going to be a big challenge where we are going to find skill gaps moving forward over the next couple of years.” At the same time, it’s going to become impossible to ignore the benefits that Cloud and other managed services bring into the organisation. From offering cost savings by shifting to an operational expenditure model, to finding competitive advantages that are granted through access to best-of-breed technology and services, outsourcing offers proven benefits to organisations regardless of size and scale. Considering the challenges in finding the right skills to properly manage outsourced environments, organisations will need to look elsewhere for skills in order to best realise any outsourcing initiative that it undertakes. The simple solution is to rely more heavily on the skills and expertise of the outsourcing provider, and so it is expected that organisations will become even more careful during the due diligence phase to ensure that they find the right partner for the project. Brennan IT has helped many customers realise the full benefit of outsourcing, and from that experience we have observed five core requirements that need to be checked to produce a successful outsourcing initiative. As organisations begin to struggle with the skills shortage around internal management of outsourced environments, they will rely increasingly on the expertise of the provider to address these five key considerations on their behalf:
When the customer is facing a skills shortage on their end, it’s important the outsourcing provider has the skills and capability to be able to go into the business, understand the pressure points that the outsourcing is designed to resolve, and execute on the vision on behalf of the customer, putting as little pressure on the partner to skill up as possible. In other words, one of the basic requirements of an outsourcing provider is that it brings genuine technical skills into the managed services arrangement. “Because we’re a complete IT and telecommunications provider, we give the customer access to a far wider pool of resources than they might have been able to access themselves,” Brennan IT Victoria Sales Manager, Matthew Willmott, said. “And we then use that skillset to help the customers keep informed of emerging trends in their business.”
Customers need to ask whether the service can be provided in a cost-effective way, while ensuring that the partner is still profitable. “One of the key activities that we undertake is to complete an annual review for our customers, and ensure that they’re getting strategic value out of their IT,” Willmott said. “These reviews allow us to understand their business priorities for the next 12 months, and allow us to come up with a cost effective and efficient solution allowing them to capitalise on their strategic opportunities, without wastage or redundancy.”
The customer needs to be able to trust the partner with the solution that is being implemented. This is especially true of small businesses where there might not be a dedicated IT team, but as Gartner’s Bertram noted, many organisations of all sizes can expect to lack the kind of skills to properly manage an outsourced IT project in the future, so even large organisations will need to be able to trust in the partner’s skills and capabilities. “When a customer signs a contract with us, we take them on a journey for the next six to eight weeks where, before we flick the switch on, the customer has a good understanding of what Brennan IT is going to offer, who to log calls with, and how to progress the incident if they need immediate support,” Brennan IT NSW Service Delivery Manager, Robert Simione, said. “Each of our customers gets an intimate relationship with the team of Brennan IT people that they’ll work with, and have a range of contact touch points that they know personally. It’s important that they have the sense there’s not just one person on the provider’s side that understands their business.”
As organisations in the future will lack the internal resources to properly remain aware of the new innovations constantly being brought to market, they will increasingly rely on their outsourcing providers as a source of information on innovation and technology development. Newsletters, magazines, and constant engagement with the customer is one of the most valuable services that an outsourcing provider can offer the customer. “We look to be actively communicating with our customers rather than reactively waiting for them to get in touch with us,” Brennan IT Manager for Customer Experience and Change, Guy Lyon, said. “Because we understand our customers, and because we are regularly on site so they understand what we’re doing, we are able to understand our customer’s pain points, and we can help them understand the best solutions to their problems.”
One of the key advantages that outsourcing provides the customer is the ability to scale up and down as need be, and adopt new services as they become required. Should the customer not have the internal resources to immediately diagnose and adjust the outsourcing resources as they become available, the provider needs to be familiar enough with the customer’s business to be able to help make these strategic decisions. “We will have a monthly meeting with the customer to ensure that we’re meeting their technology needs,” Simione said. “In addition, we have a process of annual review to really understand the strategic direction of the customer’s business and align services to facilitate their objectives.” It’s often assumed that it’s only the smallest of customers that lack the internal resources to properly manage and optimise an outsourcing arrangement to the maximum strategic advantage of the business. As Gartner’s Bertram’s findings suggest, in the future larger organisations will increasingly rely on the expertise of the partner in an outsourcing arrangement, and the success of an outsourcing initiative will increasingly rely on a partner that is capable, communicative and an expert in understanding the customer’s business needs.