Transitioning services can be a painful and lengthy experience. This can be alleviated by ensuring that deliverables are clearly defined and that all parties work together.
A previous article outlined some of the required items within a Statement of Work (SoW). For a transition of services – be that between managed service providers (MSP) or from in-house to a MSP or the reverse; or any other transition – it is essential that the scope and deliverables are clearly defined and that most assumptions, requirements, inclusions and exclusions are agreed between all parties.
Depending on the number of parties involved, more than one SoW may be required, ultimately adding to the costs incurred by a transition. Often the transition out costs are similar or even higher than the transition in costs (as an outgoing vendor has no opportunity to recoup costs over the time of a longer agreement).
A successful transition will depend primarily on accurate information. Additional components to help achieve a successful transition are:
Good project management
The complexity of a transition can vary, but the transition will benefit from good project management with clear objectives and a project manager that engages with people to follow up on any outstanding actions. This can be done with a “waterfall” or “agile” methodology. The best choice will depend on many variables including each party’s culture and approach, the type of transition and the future requirements; i.e. it will be easier to transition an established environment than a half-completed software implementation.
The transition will be easier, if all parties are fully engaged and are (willing to) work towards a common goal. This may mean to back-fill some positions during transition, so that key personnel can concentrate on the transition and are not distracted by their normal day job. This can also mean to keep the transitioning out party involved or engaged with other / future projects to avoid a “scorched earth” tactic. Diaxion’s experience shows that the Australian market is too small for vendors to engage in this kind of obstructive behaviour. It is common however, that the transitioning out party is incapable of providing the required support as key personnel may no longer be available. There may even be challenges with the vendor transitioning in, as this would be the point when the delivery organisation has to step up to what a sales organisation has promised to deliver.
System incompatibility, significant changes in supporting systems and the need to use different systems is another challenge facing transitions. This can range from the need to use or integrate different service management tools to different development platforms and similar scenarios. It can be mitigated with good planning and project management, in addition to accurate information: where the interdependencies and existing relationships between services, systems, etc. are well known, it is easier to transition these to new environments.
Accurate information facilitates a successful transition. The more is known – and is accurate – about the current environment, its relationships, dependencies and overall status, the easier it will be to move this to the new target state.
The following two examples are provided for illustration:
Transitioning the managed service for a network environment will be easier if the following items are known (somewhat in order of importance):
Transitioning between vendors during software development or major integration work is an even bigger challenge without good information, i.e.
During transition a third independent party can help to mediate between the involved parties and provide both governance and quality assurance. This can be in the form of project or transition management or as an independent resource working with the product/system/service owner(s).