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TEKsystems delivered a multiyear managed services solution to support a large communications company and their broadcast systems engineering laboratory team.
The client is a large, California-based communications company delivering digital entertainment programming, including movies, television and audio, to subscribers in the U.S. and South America. The client has trusted TEKsystems to support its IT initiatives for nearly a decade.
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In the digital age, technology has a critical presence at every organization. Not only is an external technology strategy essential for businesses to reach their end customers and differentiate themselves from peers, but on the back end, IT plays a tremendous role in keeping the lights on and driving efficiency of daily operations (e.g., employee communications, help desk support, payroll). Many organizations rely on IT staffing and IT services providers to support their IT departments. Outsourcing the IT function, or specific areas/initiatives within the department, often makes financial and business sense when IT is not the organization’s core competency. Without the necessary in-house expertise, organizations benefit from trusting a third party to manage and source the IT team.
Although leveraging the IT talent and expertise from an external provider is an ideal solution for many businesses, one common issue stems from outsourcing resources: co-employment. While an outsourced solution enables companies to save money by hiring for contract positions, these positions usually have a firm deadline in place (typically about 12–18 months); otherwise, contract employees could be considered full-time employees from the government’s perspective. To avoid the risk of co-employment, contractors are forced to leave positions—sometimes before the job is complete—in order to comply with the deadline. This turnover makes it challenging to maintain continuity, and the institutional knowledge that contract employees have acquired during their time at the company leaves when they leave the position.
Organizations can enlist an IT staffing and services provider for a managed services solution to alleviate the risks posed by contractor turnover. Under a managed services model, contract employees are managed as full-time employees with the IT staffing and services provider, enabling IT professionals to work at client sites for extended periods beyond the scope of the contractor. By reducing turnover due to contract end dates, organizations are able to gain greater value in the IT people they’ve invested in, enabling greater efficiency and effectiveness for the organization.
The client, a communications organization, had recently merged with a larger telecommunications company. Given IT is not the company’s core competency, the client trusted third-party IT staffing and IT services providers to keep its IT function running. One area requiring daily operational support was the client’s broadcast system engineering laboratory (BSE lab) team; the BSE lab had experienced a growing volume of work following the merger and was unable to scale to meet the growing demand.
The BSE lab was responsible for the installation, testing and quality assurance of broadcast equipment and back-end business applications used in broadcasting video, audio and streaming data signals among internal business units and external customers. The lab environments consisted of development, sub-system testing, end-to-end testing, development integration and partner integration. Specific functional areas included:
Working out of several physical locations and virtual/cloud environments as needed, the BSE lab performed various processes, including service and change request fulfillment, incident response and resolution, administration of lab environments, change documentation, and coordination and management of lab work demands.
In its current state, the BSE lab was unaware of work volume and did not have a means of tracking volume. Their intake process was coming from several directions, including Remedy, phone, email or in passing by the physical desk. With limited visibility and predictability in the volume of work, the team experienced ebbs and flows, handling an estimated 230 tickets per month.
With a shift toward outsourced and 24x7 (off-hours) support, the team was experiencing increased demand for application testing support services. Because of the limited visibility into demand and no formalized documentation of lab processes, not only was there a lack of resource planning but also new personnel were unable to get up to speed quickly. There was little insight into lab operational performance and service-level standards were not clearly defined. Additionally, lab management was dedicated to overseeing the operational support staff—taking them away from more strategic lab initiatives.
The client needed the BSE lab team to be able to scale and deliver on-call 24x7 support coverage for all core lab work functions. To address the issue of no documented lab processes, the client sought to establish a formalized knowledge base and proactive knowledge management for lab support functions. The client also needed to increase its visibility into lab support services performance by enabling effective tracking, measuring and reporting. Measurable performance insights would help the client identify improvement areas, enhance service quality and capacity, and ultimately, optimize lab processes.
Because the nature of the BSE lab’s responsibilities, the client knew they could only realize the most value if there was long-term continuity and consistency of the team. Yet, if they continued to use a third-party staffing vendor, they ran the risk of co-employment. The contract resources working on this team were able to work for 18 months, but would be deemed full-time employees if they stayed any longer.
The client realized the significant impact the loss of these resources would have on their organization. Working at the client for an extended period of time meant IT professionals were fully immersed in the culture and workflow of the organization. They understood client expectations, and had intimate knowledge of the BSE lab’s methodologies and tools used. They knew the specific processes for supporting, managing and repairing issues, but once they reached the pivotal 18-month mark, they had to leave. Although returning was an option, they were required to wait three months before coming back—a significant period of time to remain loyally unemployed. Ultimately, the client was losing tremendous institutional knowledge, established capabilities and understanding of culture and workflows, every time an IT professional finished their contract. This was a timely and expensive loss, seeing as the client would need to invest again into getting new resources up to speed. To enable the BSE lab team to work beyond the 18-month tenure limit, the client sought long-term support to assume full ownership and responsibility of managing this team.
As a long-standing partner of the client, TEKsystems was engaged by leadership about taking on the full BSE lab team.
TEKsystems proposed delivering a multiphase solution to achieve a fully outsourced managed services model.
We would hold a kick-off meeting to get aligned with the client. This would include verifying scope of services and deliverables; establishing communication, escalation and risk management plans; developing an interaction management and responsibility matrix; and designing a reporting plan for service metrics, financials and SLA compliance.
Within the first 90 days, TEKsystems would assume daily, weekly and monthly operating rhythms, perform baseline support activities and establish success criteria. We would onboard team resources, begin documenting processes, conduct a current-state assessment and define future-state goals.
Following the first 90 days, we would continue our support by updating operating rhythms and onboarding additional resources as necessary, and maintaining a knowledge base through proper documentation of processes. We would be responsible for monitoring the demand pipeline and balancing against capacity management. We would provide the client with regular reporting and SLA attainment data, as well as quarterly business reviews.
We would continue to look for opportunities to improve performance and efficiency. This would include performing quality/cost/risk analyses, identifying process improvements and continuing to look for ways to deliver service level optimization.
In terms of personnel, IT professionals currently in place at the BSE lab would be converted and re-badged as TEKsystems employees, if they were not working with TEKsystems already. This would eliminate co-employment risk. We would then assemble a technical team of professionals, including a delivery manager, ITSM practice architect, WebLogic administrator, broadcast system integration engineer, documentation specialist and process analyst.
As we initiate the client’s transition to a fully outsourced model, the lab’s current operational flows would remain in place for the first 90 days. TEKsystems would begin to assume ownership of the workload, tasks, governance, control, coordination and management of the team. We would:
TEKsystems was selected to support this long-term engagement based on our proposed solution. As a long-standing partner, we have an excellent track record of success and quality; our history with this client has ensured our familiarity with their culture and provided a deep understanding of the BSE infrastructure and lab environment.
For approximately three years, TEKsystems has successfully supported the client’s BSE lab team in a managed services capacity, eliminating the risk of co-employment, maintaining institutional knowledge and enabling continuity among the team. Despite the organizational changes occurring as a direct result of merger activity, we maintained continuous and consistent quality support throughout the duration of this long-term engagement. We were able to bring the team together quickly and efficiently—with no delays. By following our proposed multiphase solution, the client has realized tremendous value from our implemented improvements. Specifically, the team’s productivity and quality of work generated have improved with our support.
We were able to provide the skills and capabilities around the technologies that the client was looking for (e.g., WebLogic). While some of the required skills were not as readily available as others, as an IT staffing and services provider we were able to tap into our staffing capabilities to find the technical support we needed.
In terms of process improvements, we conducted discovery interviews at the beginning of the engagement. We recognized that, while the team was repairing and testing effectively, there was an opportunity to significantly improve how they do their work. As a result, we added someone onto the team who was fully dedicated to process improvement and ITIL processes, including incident and change management. Through this additional support, we were able to improve the metrics that we were providing, including response times and customer satisfaction.
Through the implementation of ITIL process improvement, the client enhanced turnaround of requests. They did this by reducing time to resolve while processing more tickets without increasing the number of resources required to handle the requests. The following data provides a compelling example of our success.
Notably, we were able to maintain continuity and institutional knowledge by keeping existing resources on the team and establishing formalized process documentation. While the team has slightly fluctuated, including new resources added at the client’s request, the majority of the team has remained consistent for a few years.
As an IT staffing and IT services provider, TEKsystems was able to leverage the staffing side of our business to find the right people—a benefit that other providers could not necessarily accommodate as well. With some of the more specialized skills required for this engagement, such as WebLogic or ServiceNow, we were able to tap our massive network of contacts in order to find the technical talent the client needed.
Given our long-standing relationship with the telecommunications organization—and communications being one of the core industry verticals we support—TEKsystems was uniquely positioned to support this engagement. For example, we helped the client adopt a continuous delivery model to improve software delivery. And through our previous staffing engagements, we were also very familiar with the client’s BSE infrastructure, lab environment, functions and culture. We also had an excellent track record providing the client high-quality functional support, giving the client confidence in our ability to deliver.
With a dedicated ITSM practice, TEKsystems was able to provide advisory support and direction on improving processes within the BSE lab. Our commitment to best practices and process improvement helped the client achieve its goals of increased efficiency and effectiveness of the BSE lab, subsequently driving greater productivity and quality of the team.