We have become very used to managing services and support staff and our own IT environments, which often means the idea of adding greater complexity through the use of more suppliers can seem daunting. So beyond the cost, why is it useful and how can you actually use the introduction of more suppliers as an advantage?
What do multi-vendor service desks looks like and what are the challenges?
Service Desks are busy places at the best of times and most of that is driven by handling phone calls and email based requests from their own internal customers. So when further work is added in the form of managing vendor relationships and the flow of support tickets across a wider base of suppliers, the day to day work of the Service Desk begins to look quite different.
However, modern Service Desk Managers and Analysts are now experts in communication. Their technical knowledge is fast becoming a commodity, where there is often an assumed level of proficiency.
It is not about who knows what system or who can unpick what code anymore, but instead we tend to value their ability to translate their customers’ needs into the technical and system specific language, which their suppliers can quickly understand and turn into a solution.
Why do business want to bring in more and more suppliers?
Let’s start with an example. Your company experiences two major outages in the same day; a key email store is down and the HR management platform is unavailable. Normally these outages are things that would multiple members of staff out of action for day and you have two of them. Plus, the chances are the key staff you need for those systems are of course on holiday! Sounds pretty dire, but in reality these scenarios take place in IT departments all round the world every day.
Availability and capacity aside, it is actually very difficult to ensure you have skills and knowledge across your whole team on all the systems you use. Then if you do choose to skill up in those systems, do you prioritise that by the frequency of outages, or the impact that an outage has on the business (even if an outage is really unlikely)? This is where best-in-class outsourcing really comes into its own.
Selecting suppliers based on their product or industry specific knowledge and expertise is fast becoming the most popular approach to outsourcing.
This because it enables them to ensure complete technical support across all their key systems, without concerning themselves over the day-to-day availability of systems knowledge or the unmanageable nature of multiple major incidents. It is also allows them to approach skills and professional development within IT in totally new way, thus creating a new kind value to the business through IT.
IT departments can now focus on up-skilling themselves in areas such as supplier management, business relationship management, communications, internal marketing, customer experience and of course developing new internally relevant skills such as product and organisation knowledge. Combining these skills with highly enabled channels to third party support (including automation and service integrations), can transform your supplier escalations into seamless and effortless process.
This approach allows you to gradually transition your Service Desk from a simple technical point of contact within the business into a hub of services, which can manage complex families of systems and route the traffic of support tickets across a vast universe of customer needs and suppliers.
How can you start to make sense of you current supplier environment and work out where the value is?
Do you want to start your journey towards creating a healthier family of suppliers or build a best-in-class supplier environment? With the right skills in your team, having a large network suppliers no long needs to be hindrance, but instead a great help.
The first step is to assess you current suppliers and to look for where value is either being created or lost. You can work this out in a number of ways. From a Service Desk perspective, one method is to look across the recent escalations you have made to your suppliers and track the average time-to-resolution on each ticket. It is also worth looking at major incidents which have been raised with those suppliers and seeing whether satisfactory problem and root cause analysis has been carried out.
You would be surprised as to how many IT departments become ‘comfortable’ with reoccurring issues with suppliers.
This is something that can happen when the Service Desk Analysts responsible for logging tickets for those vendors don’t feel or act accountable for the long term success of that third party service.
Once you have a good picture of your current landscape, understanding where you need more or less of a supplier in your day-to-day work becomes much clearer. You can then flip this process on its head and look at your internal service desk for the similar information. This is a useful exercise as it helps you to shine a light on those areas where you are relying too heavily on individuals in the team for their system specific knowledge.
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