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Delivering Off-shore Support to Consumer Electronics Organization

Information Technology | Managed Services, Network Infrastructure



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To complement the client’s existing off-shore team, TEKsystems delivered 24x7x365 off-shore support to increase productivity, improve quality and overall ensure the system continued to run properly.

The client, a global consumer electronics organization, designs and manufactures electronic products including computers, media devices and electronics accessories as well as software, applications and digital content. Headquartered in the western U.S., the client’s extensive product portfolio serves consumer, enterprise and government audiences. TEKsystems has worked with the client since 2008.

A business’s need for support services can fluctuate, as the volume and complexity of service requests come in ebbs and flows. While businesses requiring this kind of support should have a dedicated team in-house, it can be costly and inefficient to continue hiring internal resources to accommodate the fluctuation. Outsourcing allows organizations to offset operations support costs by tapping off-shore resources to augment internal IT.

Working with an outsourcing partner can provide organizations tremendous flexibility to grow or scale back their support team as demand for support changes. This can drive significant efficiency of cost, time and productivity, as outsourced support can take ownership of more tactical tasks thereby freeing up in-house staff to handle more strategic IT activities. 

Although working with an outsourcing partner can have its advantages, there is potential room for error. Under-qualified resources who are not only unsuitable for the job but can also generate high turnover, can force an extended timeline for bringing resources up to speed and achieving productivity. If qualified resources cannot be sourced and retained by the partner, the organization risks losing time and money. The optimal partner should have proven methodologies for building and transitioning an off-shore team; they need demonstrable experience facilitating the transfer of knowledge, securing the right talent, onboarding and training, and managing the volume of resources with the fluctuating demand for support.

HP hardware, Linux administration, Load balancers, VMware

The client, a global consumer electronics manufacturer, had a critical and proprietary application that required ongoing event, incident and problem management. Lacking the internal bandwidth, the client needed off-shore support to augment their existing IT team that was dedicated to the critical application. While collaborating with another IT services provider, a number of issues emerged that the client was unhappy with: 

  • The provider was not communicating effectively with the client’s team
  • They were unable to provide the skill sets desired on time
  • Service wasn’t improving over time

The poor quality of resources meant more than not completing the work to the client’s expectations; it also resulted in an endless cycle of additional work for the client. Because the third-party resources were not qualified to do the job, the client experienced high attrition with the augmented, off-shore staff. In turn, the client had to continually train new resources. Overall, the provider was not gaining any ground by learning and capturing insights that would allow them to improve their services over time.

In response to the negative experience, the client sought to:

  1. Improve service quality
  2. Improve team follow-through on issues
  3. Reduce retraining time spent by internal employees

To do this, the client needed to build a better off-shore team by leveraging a more qualified partner with access to a variety of skill sets. The client desired a team that would gradually learn and strengthen over the course of the engagement, so that ultimately, the members of the client’s team could steer their attention away from resolving tickets and towards more strategic business needs. The client required an IT services provider that could iteratively learn from the existing knowledge, facilitate expanding the client’s knowledge base and subsequently decrease time to resolve incidents while increasing overall effectiveness. The provider of choice also needed to enhance its support as time progressed, maintaining an increasing number of users and units of hardware to drive an ever-improving support staff to service end users ratio.

TEKsystems aimed to replace the client’s existing IT services provider by providing a high-quality off-shore solution. We proposed augmenting the client’s internal team by providing 24x7x365 support of the infrastructure elements of the critical application. This would involve utilizing tools to monitor load balancers, virtual machines, Linux servers, storage systems and related hardware and software required to support the application. The TEKsystems team would conduct event management, incident management and problem management following industry-standard best practices. To do this, we would implement a multi-phased, industry-recognized approach to IT service management (ITSM). 

Assessment
In order to ensure improved service over time and long-term success—a high priority for the client—TEKsystems would collaborate with the client to perform an upfront assessment. We would document our detailed approach to accomplishing the scope of work including the services, technologies and tools we would use. We would also facilitate process and government analyses including an evaluation of the current state and recommendations. Our assessment report would include a transition plan to seamlessly change over from the existing provider to TEKsystems. The transition would encompass a communications plan, an onboarding plan including orientation and training materials, a risk assessment and knowledge acquisition plan.

Transition
Following the assessment, TEKsystems would facilitate and manage program logistics, knowledge acquisition and transfer, set-up of operations and establishment of risk management strategy. This would include a review of documentation, team training, finalization of our application support model and validating the support infrastructure. At this point, TEKsystems would collaborate with the client to establish baseline service level agreements (SLAs); this would provide a benchmark for measuring our service over time. 

To ensure consistency and continuity of the transition, we would send several members of our off-shore team to the client site in order to gain firsthand exposure to the environment and knowledge base.

Stabilization
During the stabilization phase, the TEKsystems team would continue to provide support and enhancement services. We would perform our reporting and analysis, gather performance data, and conduct an operational test on our reporting. 

Steady state and process improvement 
The TEKsystems team would then continue to deliver support and maintenance for the client’s critical application. We would identify incidents and promptly respond; we would also isolate complex problems, diagnose the root cause and determine ways to work around those issues and resolve them. Problems that frequently emerged would be identified and we would flesh out proactive solutions to eliminate repetitive issues. The TEKsystems team would be responsible for facilitating the incident management process related to the application. We would also be responsible for communicating with the client regarding hardware-related incident support from their third-party hardware providers. 

During this stage in our approach, we would begin reporting on SLAs. To ensure we continuously improved over time, the team would constantly look for opportunities to better our performance.

Retirement
Once the length of the engagement has come to an end, TEKsystems would systematically transition support to the client or other third party. We would render data services and support in order to allow the client to have ongoing access to application data.

The client chose TEKsystems to implement our recommended solution for a number of reasons. Having been a trusted partner since 2008, TEKsystems built a successful track record of consistently delivering high-quality service over time. We had a well-established staffing relationship in which we had supported large‑scale IT initiatives in the past; with this experience, the client was confident that we would be able to provide the right resources in a timely manner. Our previous experience also assured the client that we had the ability to improve the quality of our services over time—an important attribute given the dissatisfaction with the previous service provider. The client also appreciated our flexible and adaptable delivery model, as there were a few changes to our recommended approach which we took in stride.

TEKsystems successfully provided 24x7x365 support services to the critical application’s team. We supported the infrastructure elements of the client’s proprietary application to monitor load balancers, virtual machines, Linux servers, storage systems and related hardware and software. The TEKsystems team executed industry-standard best practices and processes for event, incident and problem management.

To do this, TEKsystems assembled a team of 11 off-shore resources and one on-site delivery manager; this included 10 resources who were fully dedicated to the engagement as well as two “buffer” resources that came in during vacations and sick days. This ensured we reduced potential interruptions of service and were able to deliver seamless support. The team provided skills and expertise in areas including Linux system administration, storage, DDM and Netap. 

At the start of the engagement, TEKsystems collaborated with the client to develop success criteria, such as case response time, case closure and troubleshooting issues; this allowed us to measure the efficiency and responsiveness of the team over time. In order to stay on track, the team performed internal audits on quality of communication, responsiveness and case management. We also held monthly business reviews with the client to validate our success criteria and we leveraged our proprietary Quality‑Cost-Risk framework to add value by improving quality, reducing costs and mitigating risks based on evolving client needs.

During the time of our support, an impressive 95,000 cases were resolved. Our troubleshooting and process recommendations saw near immediate success as the number of cases opened on a monthly basis declined, as did the volume of backlog. Specifically, the total number of cases opened per month reduced to less than 12,000 cases, compared to 28,000 previously. And the backlog of open cases went from 21,000 to approximately 450 cases per month. We successfully improved quality and case responsiveness—the average case resolution time went from 15 days to less than five. This resulted in fewer escalations requiring support from the client’s team, reduced risk of system outages and cost-per-case savings. With all of these improvements, the client’s dedicated internal team realized more time to focus on their other priorities. 

Notably, the client needed a partner that would take direction and implement the necessary steps to increase productivity over the life of the partnership—even as initial business needs changed over time. To do this, we adapted our services as the engagement progressed. For example, we took the client’s existing knowledge base and expanded it, developing scripts, job aids and techniques; we also contributed to regular updates of the client’s runbooks and Wikis, which were not being updated prior to our involvement. TEKsystems initiated regular and documented updates as these assets helped facilitate our work and provided long-term benefits for the client. Overall this enabled us to enhance the effectiveness of support and decrease the time to resolve incidents over time.

The client was so pleased with our services and continued improvement throughout the engagement that the original one-year contract was extended by six months because the value and quality of service we were able to provide. 

TEKsystems was able to deliver a seamless managed services solution through:

SERVICE IMPROVEMENT

Improving the quality and efficiency of service over time was of top priority for the client, especially having had poor service from the previous partner. TEKsystems took the necessary steps to ensure our team learned and got better over time. For example, we took the initiative in making updates to runbooks and Wikis, which proved to be not only beneficial to our team in improving service over time, but also offered a long-term improvement opportunity for the client as we essentially expanded their in-house knowledge. We also performed internal auditing, facilitated monthly reviews and established open communication with the client to ensure we stayed on track.

FLEXIBILITY

TEKsystems was nimble with our approach to delivery. Although there was an expected structure and delivery model we anticipated delivering, to provide the optimal support, we had to deviate from our original plan and adapt to changing business needs. We remodeled our solution, adjusting the skill set needs appropriately to ensure we provided the optimal solution. For example, the client asked us to evaluate their Feedrunner support, which was provided by a third-party vendor. We assessed the newsfeed looking for errors, issues and risks, and the client appreciated our willingness to take on this assessment, as well as our approach to the assignment.

PROVEN QUALITY

TEKsystems had established itself as a trustworthy partner and the client knew we stood by our promise to deliver. The client’s previous experience working with us along with our impressive track record as an industry leader demonstrated that we had the ability to build a technically sound team that could accommodate client needs on time and on budget. Our reputation was supported by the measures we took to make certain that we delivered on time and on budget, such as creating onboarding checklists for new resources, which helped reduce ramp- up and system access approvals times.

“I’m thrilled that—aside from our existing off-shore team—your team is working tirelessly behind the scenes, making sure expectations are met. What we’ve built in this short time frame just reaffirms my decision of going with TEKsystems.” –Client manager