Stung by a service provider gravely distracted by the allure of so-called bigger fish, Transdev Australasia – no minnow itself, with 210 IT seats and a busy programme of IT consolidation and streamlining – required quick action to resurrect critical IT services provision. Intent on a balanced and transparent customer-supplier partnership, Transdev turned to Harbour IT for helpdesk services and infrastructure monitoring.
Big is rarely better
Losing sight of customer needs
Just as customers buy from certain suppliers, suppliers style their services for specific markets. In this age of abundant choice, service providers can’t be all things to all customers. Because customers – especially business customers – often have complex needs requiring special attention, and larger, more general providers aren’t seen as the place to get it.
Trouble often surfaces when suppliers don’t stick to their knitting and decide to chase new business in different markets. Incumbent customers are quick to sense neglect and feel betrayed. Just ask Transdev IT manager Yvonne Hunt, who invoked an escape clause to terminate a services engagement with an IT supplier who shifted their attention to bigger customers.
“There were too many unknowns and with our projects we couldn’t rely on them to deliver components in a timely manner. They weren’t able to cost new services under management, nor could they support some mainstream applications,” Hunt says.
Inflexibility was problematic, particularly as Transdev moved to centralise and standardise its computing platform serving a diverse and growing number of subsidiary organisations. Implementing a Citrix farm and Microsoft Dynamics, Transdev required a raft of infrastructure changes their provider wasn’t prepared to support. Moreover, response times were protracted and, unable to make changes themselves, Transdev was powerless to take control. The situation was perilous and a broader strategy to streamline Transdev’s IT was jeopardised. “We couldn’t make changes, or get password access. When there were critical errors they didn’t seem to have the staff to solve the problems they were paid to manage. It wasn’t a good situation,” Hunt says.
Good business works for both parties
Looking for a quick turnaround, Transdev engaged Harbour IT on two fronts: helpdesk and infrastructure monitoring. More than simply getting the attention it required, Transdev wanted a service partner who could work to the rhythm of their business. A balanced partnership was important, too, where both parties were equally important to each other.
Transdev’s newly invigorated IT services are shaped by an engagement model that both minimises risks and tacitly rewards Harbour IT for service improvements. Hunt explains the decision for fixed price engagement: “We opted for fixed service costs, rather than cost per calls. With the changes we were making and varying levels of IT literacy between offices, forecasting call numbers was just too hard. A fixed cost engagement covered all the possibilities and was the least risk option,” Hunt says.
But it also motivates Harbour IT to go the extra distance and get to the bottom of users issues, where root causes can be addressed. If Transdev’s users require help less frequently then they’re likely to be happier; and as call volumes diminish Harbour IT’s service margins improve.
The approach is guided by Harbour IT’s adoption of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework underpinning a 30-person 24/7 service desk operation, which acts as the first point of call for Transdev users, who are able to ring, email, or log incidents via the web. Processing around 200 Transdev user incidents a month, helpdesk analysts investigate similar incidents to identify root causes and remedial action – such as additional training, new technology, or less stringent IT rule setting.
Delivering helpdesk support for Transdev desktops and networks, including phones and internet, Harbour IT’s response and resolution times satisfy contracted service levels. More granularly, Harbour IT applies an urgency scale alongside the standard incident severity, which fine-tunes responsiveness and delivers more intelligent service than one-dimensional incident classification. For example, a user unable to access a new application might score lowly on the severity scale. However, if that user is the CEO, or the payroll officer on payday, then that incident is rated highly urgent.
In a nod to the Japanese philosophy of continual improvement, Kaizen, Transdev and Harbour IT conduct monthly reporting meetings where the past is sifted for future improvements. Reporting analyses calls, which are categorised by type and departmental origin, and identifies aberrations, such as frequent requests for email quarantine release. From this point a joint decision directs remediation, and in this case more relaxed email filtering was considered. Findings may also point to additional training, and technology issues.
Infrastructure monitoring services, also delivered by Harbour IT, are similarly reviewed. Daily exception reports monitoring the performance of Transdev’s physical and virtual servers, switching, and routers, pinpoint areas for immediate fine-tuning; and monthly reports provide more longitudinal assessment, illuminating usage and capacity trends, and helping plan for growth. Says Hunt: “We’re able to identify issues for both parties, so the relationship remains good for everyone. And results show that it’s working. System alerts have diminished by 70 percent since Harbour IT’s engagement, and business manager feedback has been very positive.”
“We’re able to identify issues for both parties, so the relationship remains good for everyone. And results show that it’s working. System alerts have diminished by 70 percent since Harbour IT’s engagement, and business manager feedback has been very positive.”Yvonne Hunt, IT manager, Transdev
Doing what’s best for the customer
When a relationship is transparent the scope for self-interested supplier behaviour is eliminated. And that’s what Hunt loves about her engagement with Harbour IT.
“The way we’ve set it up means we can choose to resolve the incident ourselves, or leave it to Harbour IT. So it’s not just them fixing it thinking that ‘this is what’s best for you’. We know what the issue is and we can choose how we’d like to fix it,” Hunt says. “We’re not confined to using certain systems, and it’s a much better value for money service. Plus Harbour IT has the people on the ground to support us – unlike the last lot.”
The flexible nature of resolution also extends to third-party providers, who Harbour IT is able to monitor on behalf of Transdev.