Stretching Out | Article

Solving Support Challenges for a Remote Workforce

IT infrastructureCxOs in leading organizations around the world are learning that comprehensive support for IT users is a make-or-break function – especially for remote or mobile users, who have nowhere to go but a help desk. “If you follow up in a timely manner and provide the right answers and support, you become perceived as very successful,” states George Young, director at Deutsche Bank. “From my 10 years of experience in this area, I believe you rise or fall, you win or lose, based on your support.”

The bank’s remote access functions were not supported in a focused manner prior to 2002, Young recalls. The process was fractured in that it was regionally administered and experienced a lot of cross-regional issues. There were few standards. Performance was usually poor, and user dissatisfaction levels were very high.

The bank decided to end the skimpy treatment in its remote support function, with the objective of a globally consistent program so that users would have the same high-quality experience from anywhere in the world. “We made a decision that remote access support services would be a product and supported as such,” says Young.

Deutsche Bank, which believes in strategic outsourcing, selected Getronics, the Billerica, Massachusetts and Amsterdam, Netherlands-headquartered provider of vendor-independent IT solutions and services, to achieve consistent delivery of support for the bank’ employees on a global basis.

The night-and-day difference after outsourcing the process is dramatic. Within the first year, user satisfaction surveys soared from the pre-outsourced level of “poor, poor, poor” to the current excellent rating as “number-one product in Deutsche Bank.”

Furthermore, because the process is outsourced, Young and two employees now run a global program for over 17,000 subscribers at Deutsche Bank, yet their time is no longer occupied with escalated problems.

From Chaos to Consummate Services

The three-year outsourcing agreement provides for remote access level-one help desk services, product management within the regions and field service support. Young says one of the reasons Getronics was selected among the five providers considered for the work is its ability to “fulfill all three of those prongs as a tripod with little or no outsourcing themselves. This was important to us because, like playing telephone tag, somehow messages often get translated differently as they go down the line.”

The bank liked the flexibility and other value-add components of Getronics, but it had no idea how valuable that flexibility would become until the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (WTC).

September 12, 2001 changed the entire picture of “remote access” for Deutsche Bank. Although the transition plan called for a soft launch of the outsourced program to be in place September 5, a major bank building next door to the WTC was destroyed. Deutsche Bank found itself in an emergency situation with thousands of displaced employees.

Getronics “did some real heroics” to get hardware and software to those people, get it installed and up and running in a very short time period so they would at least have access to the resources that were available, Young recalls. The service provider also arranged for 20 temporary employees, who worked “around the clock,” to handle administrative matters.

Within just a month, Getronics had 1000 Deutsche Bank employees using the remote program for secure access to the bank’s data from a variety of temporary work locations.

The bank’s new low-computing product had also been scheduled for a September launch in North America (with subsequent launches planned throughout Europe, then Asia). Amazingly, considering the emergency situation, Getronics was still able to implement the new product three months later on a global basis.

“Done as a True Partner”

Referring to the manner in which Getronics stepped up to the plate in the emergency, Young reflects that the provider’s performance was “done as a true partner.” He says, “a lot of the things they did after the 9/11 disaster were so extraordinary and were not in the statement of work or service level agreement. They definitely demonstrated flexibility.”

In addition to this outsourced service now being recognized as the best product in the bank, their outsourcing partnership received a “highly commended” rating by the European Banking Technology Awards.

“Without getting specific about things they did on a specific day,” Young notes, “it’s really their performance over time that has led this outsourced process to become successful and highly respected.”

Indeed, the results of the outsourced remote access support function are so valued that the bank subsequently decided to outsource all of its help desk and desktop services.

Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:

  • Outsourcing to a provider with global infrastructure and expertise enables high-quality support and a consistent experience for remote users from any location in the world.
  • Help desk support is a make-or-break function for operational success, especially for remote users.
  • Even without an emergency situation, a remote support function must be scalable for the number of users and thousands of connectivity points as a company grows and relies more on the remote workforce business model.
  • Because the contract and service level agreement cannot account for unanticipated changing business conditions, an outsourcing provider’s service delivery approach must be flexible and based on “partnership” attitudes for mutual success.


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