One of the most important questions that we have to face and with which we should start the IT_Outsourcingdiscussion about outsourcing is the question "what to outsource?" Providing adequate IT systems that will help build a competitive advantage requires the understanding of the needs of business and the skills to communicate with it. This strategic role of the internal IT department should not be outsourced, because it is more difficult for an external supplier to talk effectively with business divisions and implement the strategy of companies in the field of IT.
The issue varies with the performance of the typically operational tasks. Ongoing maintenance of the IT infrastructure and administration of hardware and system platform, Service Desk support for the end user, ensuring business continuity for IT are tasks that can, and in my opinion even should, be forwarded to an external IT service provider. Outsourcer will be able to perform such tasks more efficiently and in a more orderly and accountable manner.
Outsourcer can be held accountable
The mere signing of an outsourcing agreement forces the parties to define the scope of IT services to be provided by the outsourcer and to determine the SLA parameters and penalties. This is an additional advantage for the business, as it will know exactly what services it receives, according what parameters and at what price. It is worth to devote some time to precisely define the catalog of services, as this will avoid confusion in the course of the contract. The transitional period during which the provider becomes familiar with the customer’s infrastructure and processes is also a good time to inform end users about changes in the way of communicating with IT, reporting failure, submitting queries and solving each category and priority of notifications.
Good practices of the first line of support
Currently, the provision of IT services based on good practices from the ITIL v3 library is basically a standard. Even if the relevant incident, problem or change management processes in the company are not yet implemented, the choice of an outsourcer, such as Comarch, which implements IT services based on the recommendations of ITIL will significantly organize and streamline the internal IT processes in the company.
In the case of Comarch, an additional advantage is to provide customers with a ticketing system that supports all major processes in accordance with ITIL v3. Thanks to this support, the management of incidents, problems, changes, reporting, database configuration and construction of the knowledge base or catalog management services and their level takes place within a single, intuitive tool.
Each outsourcer that submits an offer for the provision of IT services has probably its own idea of how to provide most of these services. In our case, we try to benefit from the scale effect. Comarch Service Desk is implemented remotely from Cracow as a single point of contact for the user. It is available in 24x7 and provides support in several languages so it flexibly adapts to customer requirements. As part of the first line of support we try to solve the largest percentage of claims, which has a very positive influence on user satisfaction with the quality of the services.
Experience of the engineers
Second line of support consists of experienced and certified system, database and network engineers. They get the difficult incidents, problems and custom changes. They also handle the ongoing administration of the IT infrastructure. Thanks to sharing these teams between several projects, relatively expensive and specialized resources are used efficiently. Finally, there is servicing of the agent stations, which, depending on the number of users can be implemented by engineers permanently working in customer locations or during maintenance visits according to the defined SLA parameters.
An employee at the outsourcer’s
A company that considers outsourcing often has the dilemma of what to do with the IT department employees whose jobs are taken over by the external service provider. Some of them will certainly be utilized for more advanced tasks, such as building IT strategy, creating business services, supervision of providers and supporting business applications. However, with the new IT service delivery model, some will no longer have a place in the organization. In many cases, Comarch hires these workers, as their knowledge and experience gained in a customer environment create an important added value which contributes to the increase of the efficiency of IT services. From the perspective of the outsourcer such staff are particularly helpful in the initial phase of the provision of services and allow the provider to significantly shorten the transitional period, during which it must learn the customer's IT environment.
Outsourcer - Partner in Business
When choosing an outsourcing company, it is important to remember that we decide on a long-term cooperation. Outsourcing contracts are usually signed for 2-3 years, and then, if only cooperation is going well, usually extended for a further period. A properly chosen outsourcer is not one of the many suppliers of products and IT services, but a business partner. This company has the necessary knowledge and experience to effectively support the development of IT thanks to the "know-how" in the field of IT and its daily presence at the customer’s.
Paweł Szymański, Business Solution Manager, Comarch ICT