The Power of One: Five Dos and Don’ts for Integrated Services | Article

Integrated workflowThere is a new trend in IT and it’s called the Service Integration Model (SIM). Buyers using SIM deal with just one provider and this provider then deals with all your other IT suppliers, including those to whom you outsourced IT functions.

This is a case of something old is new again.

Remember the time when there were just a handful of hardware vendors and even fewer software providers? Buyers not willing to deal with (the few!) multiple suppliers insisted that software came bundled along with hardware.

Things changed dramatically when the scope of technology widened and specialists emerged in both software and hardware. This was the time of “best-of-breed” technologies, with a different provider selling each “best” thing. Multi-sourcing was the new mantra.  The debate about choosing a “full-service” provider or a plethora of “specialized” providers is raging once again.  Companies that devour a variety of technologies are no longer keen on dealing with multiple providers in multiple time zones. They still want the best, but instead of having to talk to a busload of providers, they prefer to speak to the driver instead.

SIM: new star in the IT constellation

Enter SIM. Companies opting for SIM are choosing one of two paths:

  1. They appoint a third party, or an integrator, who deals with every provider and ensures they deliver the goods and work in tandem with your goals.
  2. They appoint one large provider that can deliver a major portion of the required services from within its own portfolio. In addition, it sources on your behalf, buying specialized services from other providers who may otherwise be its competitors.

This all-in-one model can make life easier for you, the buyer, because of another new phenomenon. Many buyers are no longer asking what each piece of software or hardware costs. They are sticking to an overall budget while the integrator sources, implements and integrates the required technologies within that budget.

If you are thinking of moving on to the Service Integration Model, keep in mind a few things:

  1. Talk to your existing providers and apprise them about the impending move. You’ll be surprised to find that your largest provider may not necessarily be the most enthusiastic one wanting to take on the integrator role. However, it’s you who will have to choose the primary provider among your existing suppliers.
  2. Remember that the provider you choose as the integrator will now act more as a partner than just a supplier. You will have to share your organization’s overall vision and goals and allow them to consult you, especially if they are to source and oversee the implementation of technology from other providers. You must clearly define your goals and objectives from the IT as well as the business perspective.
  3. If you choose to appoint a third-party integrator, ensure that they are capable of yoking all your service providers so your organization’s IT functions smoothly. They will create a framework to run all your existing processes—it would be advisable at this point to migrate to the latest technologies. In the long run, this should lead to enhanced productivity and lower operating costs.
  4. Don’t forget that there will have to be tri-partite agreements between you, the integrator and the service providers. So be prepared for some complicated legalese at the time of drawing up contracts.
  5. Your integrator must be a company with impeccable credentials and have an unshakeable code of ethics. You are putting all your eggs in one basket—that basket better be strong and tightly woven!

Now that you’ve chosen your integrator, what are the don’ts?

  1. Do not talk to other providers behind the integrator’s back. While it’s in your own interest to keep communications open with different providers, keep the integrator in the loop.
  2. If you’ve moved the operational responsibility for your IT provisioning and functioning to a third party, it would be advisable not to stick with outdated “legacy” technology since your integrator is certain to have the latest and most sophisticated frameworks.
  3. Don’t expect the same productivity from your IT resources; expect more! An integrator committed to your organization will be able to squeeze out more efficiency from your IT resources than you could—not because you were incapable but because your core competency lay elsewhere.
  4. Do not imagine things will change overnight. There’s a ton of work for the integrator to do before everything runs smoothly.
  5. Do not relax! Remember those eggs that you put in the basket are precious. While you trust the integrator, you cannot afford to not be vigilant.

Vigilance is needed because the IT industry is forever changing and innovating. You don’t want to be caught napping if a better way of doing business is just around the corner, do you?

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