You have developed a sourcing strategy to engage a capable service partner for delivery of IT or business process services. You hired a reputable advisor to consult with your team to guide you through the sourcing strategy – developing and issuing the RFP, proposal evaluation, partner selection and now preparing for the transition and the complex aspects of change management. Now the real work begins – in two parallel streams; 1) negotiating a sound contract that will support the relationship and withstand 3 to 5 years of peaks and valleys, and 2) planning for service and people transition, choosing the approach that will minimize disruption to the business and best support the stated sourcing strategies and objectives.
The alternative approaches to a successful transition are important topics for discussion by the Steering Committee for the sourcing program and are listed below. A detailed review of pros, cons and potential impacts to the business establishes an understanding among senior leaders, and sets preliminary expectations before making such an important decision. Another sourcing strategy, is on the optimum transition approach may come from your selected partner if the relationship is already established and the executive team is comfortable the partner has your best interests in mind.
- APPROACH A: Analyze the in-scope services in terms of criticality to the business. Prioritize the services based on your business tolerance for delays and interruptions, placing those with least tolerance as highest priorities.
- APPROACH B: Review the business calendar for the months during and surrounding the proposed transition period. Allow for scheduled events that may be completing as transition begins, and the same for the end of the schedule. Considerations should include major project releases into the in-scope service area.
Let’s walk through an example for Approach A–in our example, we will assume the in-scope services include multiple application portfolios and supporting infrastructure services. The first step in the process is orientation of your Applications Management team on what typically occurs during an outsourcing service transition with all of its dependencies and complexities. Introduce the concept of phasing the service transition to reduce risk and allow both your internal team and the partner’s team to pace themselves as they proceed through migrating operating responsibility from one to the other.
- Once the responsible management team understands the breadth of the transition program, engage them in a series of discussions to assess the mission critical level of each in-scope application or groupings of applications if applicable. Do the same with in-scope infrastructure services that clearly support the applications portfolios and business areas being considered. Add data elements to an existing Applications Inventory that can be sorted or use a simple tool that yields a matrix showing application name, business it supports, criticality level and recommended positioning in the Transition schedule.
- Take a look at the suggested Transition calendar and have your team map it against the business calendar to ensure you have an understanding of potential conflicts and delays to the transition schedule. Inform the project manager if any are found so they can be worked into the service migration plan accordingly.
- Engage the operational management team to analyze and determine the best Transition phase or wave strategy for in-scope applications and Infrastructure services. This means dividing those services at a detailed level into phases of the Transition program that can be managed separately to ensure quality results. With Criticality Level in mind, use the Applications Inventory report or the newly created matrix to divide the affected services into relevant, risk manageable phases or waves of transition. A simple method may be to align one major service area from each criticality level to each wave, thus reducing the concentration of highly critical applications or infrastructure services within each wave.
- Test each wave’s content for business impact and recoverability should you encounter challenges that delay completion of the transition process. Are there any transitional support situations from which the business cannot recover? If so, break up the services contained in that wave such that the risk is distributed across either multiple waves or a longer period of stabilization after knowledge transfer is complete.
- Package the Transition Phase or Wave strategy for review by the Steering Committee and key business stakeholders to ensure buy-in to the plan.
A similar process is effective with Alternative B, as well. Regardless of the approach, creating a thorough service inventory up front is very important, followed by detailed analysis of the impact and risk associated with each item. Only when you have agreement from key decision makers can you proceed with confidence and assurance that your business customers are prepared to support the Transition effort.
Barbara DeGuise brings 30 years of success in leading global IT and business operations; optimizing performance for strategic sourcing programs and complex restructuring efforts. Barbara has focused expertise in RFP development, provider selection, service transition and operational governance, and as a Tier 1 provider and advisor led over 100 clients in automotive, retail, financial services and manufacturing through the planning and execution of successful service transitions around the world. She has extensive international management experience with Accenture, Bureau Veritas and Compaq/Digital.