5 Strategic Steps for Outsourcing Application Management

5 Strategic Steps for Outsourcing Application Management

Outsourcing works well where repetitive tasks consume your experts' time.  These tasks are often ‘well oiled running engines,’ documented, ticketed and repeatable.

Your partner will bring economies of scale to these tasks, best practices and out of hours coverage.  How often are your best people dragged away from critical projects to (say) repackage an application or undertake some SCCM housekeeping?  Handing over these BAU tranches lets you focus on improving more pressing IT projects.

Some of the pitfalls we’ve witnessed – many outsource engagements fail due to;

  • Lack of agreement on outcomes – both parties lose sight of where they started from and ‘what was agreed’
  • expecting a vendor to solve the unsolvable – bringing in a vendor to solve a problem you haven’t been able to is (put politely) passing the buck and hoping!
  • Letting the perfect be an enemy of the good! – where you strive for perfection, but your business culture halts progress at every opportunity
5 Strategic Steps for Outsourcing Application Management STEP 1

Before you outsource: benchmark, benchmark, benchmark

Ask most managers how long it ‘takes to package an app’ and you’ll typically hear from hours to a couple of days. The ‘hidden bookends’ are the request, finding the original media and documentation, undertaking discovery, documenting, identifying dependencies, testing and user testing then release and monitoring!  You must benchmark where you are today to measure the success of outsourcing.  Your team should start recording how much time is devoted to tasks, answering queries, documentation from the start to the point of closure.  Be as honest as possible and see it as a positive exercise for the team to see how many hours a month they can claw back and for you to have a benchmark of costs to start conversations with potential vendors.

When collating this also capture statistics around quality, how many times are we retesting due to human error, how often are we repeating the same task, have we assigned the same tasks to the same person?  Does our business stop when they are away?

5 Strategic Steps for Outsourcing Application Management STEP 2

Work in partnership with your IT Partner

Try to avoid ‘Arm’s Length’ RFPs; engage with vendors, let them know what you must achieve and why. We have walked away from deals where there simply wasn’t enough knowledge sharing to enable us to size the project without restrictive (read protective) assumptions and dependencies that lay costly trapdoors for the journey ahead. Not a great way to start a relationship!

5 Strategic Steps for Outsourcing Application Management STEP 3

Define the journey together

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good! The most successful engagements come from 3 stages, with clear signposts to unquestionably prove it’s ‘doing what it says on the tin.’

Map out these 3 stages with deliverables and softer phrases such as ‘you’ll recognise this stage when……’.

  1. Good“We’ve worked through the teething problems together, we know each other and you’re delivering what we’re doing today, to the same quality and for the price agreed. My team is feeling less anxious and starting to recognise the value”
  2. Great“your processes are improving our efficiency, closing tasks in less time and ‘baking in’ new standards. You feel a trusted part of our team”
  3. Perfect“you’re delivering a well oiled, repeatable quality service that’s improving end user experience, bringing new standards to everything we do and driving measurable savings against agreed costs”

Choose a partner with great reporting templates and strong ‘baked in’ governance with visual tools so you can see trends developing so you both applaud the positive and adjust the negative!

5 Strategic Steps for Outsourcing Application Management STEP 4

Make sure you both have an exit plan

We have taken over from incumbent suppliers, embedded for years providing little value.  One recurring theme is the lack of knowledge transfer and documentation. Make sure your IT Partner and contract makes provision for documentation to be handed over in PDF binders and playbooks.  There must be provision for training your staff with a “hands on the wheel” approach to gain muscle memory and familiarity in the use and maintenance of the solution.

5 Strategic Steps for Outsourcing Application Management STEP 5

Reap The Rewards

You’re both looking for a win-win.  Your team will recognise and appreciate the work of the vendor and what it means to them and your business.  Now all you need to do is change gear on more pressing IT projects by refocussing your in house talents with all that time released by a successful partnership!

Next Steps – APPtechnology have worked alongside businesses and public sector clients for over 10 years delivering multiple workstreams or ‘pay as you use’ solutions.  Talk to us today and we can explore together your challenges and where our solutions can help you get there.

Further reading

Application and OS Managed Services for Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM).


Main photo credit, @howstevenseesit via Twenty20
Smaller photos: @yvhc, @olderwise1, @jesseg447, @SnappyPete, @een_wasbeer