Outsourcing, as we have talked about in some of our previous blog posts is experiencing significant growth on a global scale and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Numerous companies have recently entered or are about to enter into an outsourced agreement for the first time, which presents a big change to their current IT Service Delivery model, processes, and ways of working.
Is outsourcing a wise decision? IT Service Delivery being handled by `the professionals` and the potential to exploit new delivery models and technologies are two of the main reasons why companies take this step. However, by not following good practice through the selection, onboarding, and cutover stages, many have ended up with agreements that are not fit for purpose.
In our previous blog post about the basics of outsourcing, we talked about the pros and cons of outsourcing, contract structures, and understanding the level of service you will receive so that there are not any hidden surprises. Today, we talk about the transition to an outsourced service, the service cutover (when the new service goes live), and how getting the basics right will help to set you up for short- and longer-term success.
Key characteristics of a Transition Plan
You can never be too prepared when it comes to entering into an outsourced agreement and following a thorough transition plan will help to mitigate any risks along the way. When contracts are signed and a cutover date is agreed, a transition plan is produced by the outsourcer describing how everything will be transitioned across to them. An effective transition plan includes the overall approach, the transition of people and assets, and communications to all key parties. It will also describe service level baselines and conditions for the cutover, i.e., when the service will fully come into effect.
There are several key aspects of the plan that your company and outsourced partner need to manage carefully and diplomatically. One of these is the transition of people, which in our experience can be one of the more challenging aspects of the transition. There will be different scenarios depending on the agreement you have signed; staff members from your company moving over to the outsourced partner; some leaving the company; and others being deployed into different roles. While some will see this as a positive move, others may believe that they had no choice. Whatever the situation, it is important to handle it professionally, with empathy towards the individuals concerned, and involve your HR team at every step of the journey so that people get the support and direction they need.
Another key characteristic of a transition plan is the baselining of service levels. Without an agreed baseline of `what good will look like` and metrics to support it, you cannot measure your outsourcer’s performance. When transition activities are in full swing, it is important to have pre agreed service level metrics with your outsourcer that they can be held accountable to, both during the transition and for a period after the service cutover. Ensuring that expectations are clearly communicated and understood by all parties is essential, as you do not want individuals and teams to be confused about their role and what is expected.
Transition delivery is an intense exercise and can cause headaches if you do not plan thoroughly and effectively. After all, this is when you are handing over the `keys` to your IT Service Delivery to the outsourcer, so you need to make sure that everything is covered. Asset transfer is the largest activity, i.e., PCs, office equipment, buildings, etc, and it helps to have a comprehensive list of all assets to be transferred so that everything is accounted for. Key data needs to be captured and transferred to an asset register so that it can be referred to and all key items ticked off.
If a third-party vendor is involved with any of the assets, the appropriate paperwork (and agreement) needs to be transferred to the outsourcer or terminated if it will be discontinued. It is therefore also vital that maintenance, warranty, and overall management processes are understood for each asset so that there are not any disruptions to service or problems when the new agreement is live.
Timings are another crucial aspect of transition delivery and agreeing an approach and time frames around when assets will be transitioned. Taking an iterative, phased approach to asset transfer helps ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible and that any issues can be promptly raised and resolved along the way.
Going back to what we mentioned previously about measuring service performance, and the importance of setting metrics for after the service cutover, by following the steps below you are setting a solid foundation for effective performance measurement –
- Agree what is to be measured and the metrics to be used.
- Agree the duration of time against which the levels of service will be measured/baselined against these metrics.
- Determine and agree how results and outcomes will be appraised and measured.
- Measure the results together, creating a two-way relationship from the start.
Re-reviewing the contract
It may sound basic, but we strongly advise that you re-review the contract with your outsourcer ahead of the service cutover to ensure that everything is understood. Not least –
- Scope of services.
- Service Level Agreements.
- Roles & responsibilities.
- Specific or changed delivery responsibilities.
- Contract review/audit.
After completing the re-review, if there are any `grey areas` or if an element of the transition has not been completed to the required level, it is important to document this and agree next steps so that there are not any issues after the service cutover.
Many experienced sourcing professionals recommend the same thing, and that is to do a mock walk through of day 1 of when the new service goes live. This will verify that all key people elements, processes, and technologies will be in place and ready. It also helps to review `Plan B` and have a clearly laid out back out plan in case anything goes wrong.
Successful outsourcing comes from `brilliant basics`. By getting the basics right, you are laying the foundations for successful and fruitful partnerships. Our next outsourcing blog post will address the challenge of aligning underpinning contracts and the SLA that your outsourcer has with you, to the SLAs you have agreed with your customers and end users.
If you would like to discuss how iCore can help you then contact us on +44 (0) 203 8211252 or email us at email@example.com