Consolidating Service Delivery

Rapid business expansion, whether through organic growth or mergers and acquisitions, has caused a proliferation of IT services, service providers, helpdesks, infrastructure, software licenses and so on. The resulting inefficiencies and mounting costs have made consolidation a business imperative. This paper presents an approach on consolidation of vendors and consolidation of service desks across the production landscape.

Consolidation in IT can mean many things. It could be consolidation of data centers, infrastructure, centralizing common functions or resources, vendors, standardizing processes and so on. A successful consolidation initiative will lead to improved customer service, controlled costs, reduced redundancies and improved impact of IT on business. However, it does require creative organizational approaches, as well as excellent communication, flexibility and assistance from all stakeholders.

Imagine that your customers follow one method to request a service, irrespective of whether it relates to software, hardware or access. Imagine that the service they receive is consistent; no matter which function delivers it. Further, imagine that all the responsibility of supporting the operations is owned by one of your trusted suppliers and you are able to measure service using standard metrics across the enterprise. Then you can compare services across the enterprise to make informed decisions on budget allocation and service improvement focus. You can focus on enhancing customer satisfaction, meeting business needs and thus enable the IT organization to deliver greater value for money.

Consolidating vendors – Working with a few strategic partners
If an organization is sourcing from multiple IT vendors or service providers, then consolidating them is an option that can be considered. For example, if there are about 1000 business applications underlying the business processes and L1 and L2 support is being provided in-house as well as by 40 vendors, then partnering with one or two mature vendors who can competently deliver consolidated services could be a viable option.

The benefits of vendor consolidation increase significantly when a managed service model is implemented. Such a model involves engaging a vendor to deliver pre-defined services as per contractual commitments based on outcomes, supported by a robust governance structure and processes to manage the relationship, with penalties for non-performance. In this model, the vendor becomes your selected strategic partner (SSP). The advantages of using this model include:

  • The SSP owns the risks and costs of delivering services while assuring the agreed levels of service
  • Your IT shifts focus from managing resources and processes to creating positive business impact

Consolidating Service Desks - Many to One
If your organization has multiple helpdesks, your customers - internal or external - may receive disjointed and inconsistent service from each helpdesk. They may also suffer the 'help' of being continually directed from one helpdesk to another. The business may lose revenue as there are differences in understanding business priorities in outages of business-critical services. Your other challenges could well include duplication of resources, inconsistent processes and fragmented knowledge. Consolidating the disparate and disconnected Level 1 support resource groups into one consolidated service desk (CSD) can lead to a reduced helpdesk costs and enhanced customer experience.

This is also a natural sequence in consolidation of vendors; you may have selected an SSP to establish and run the CSD.
The key steps to establishing a consolidated service desk include:

  • Understand the existing landscape
  • Decide the strategy
  • Prepare a business case for service desk consolidation and build buy-in from both business and the helpdesk staff
  • Design the target model
  • Establish a plan and approach to transfer services and resources to the CSD. Consider transition of services one-by-one with assessment periods between the transitions
  • Establish a communication plan for business, users and the helpdesk staff

Consolidating service delivery involves fundamental changes in the way IT services are managed and operated. Consolidation is a planned initiative that aims at a shared and managed services model, lower unit cost of IT and minimizing business risks. Lack of planning in the initial stage may result in cost overruns, downtime and service level violations. By adopting the consolidation approaches considered in this paper for vendor and service desk consolidation, an organization’s IT can shift focus from managing resources and processes to creating business impact.

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