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An Outsourcing Story – Why (and How) Law Firms Outsource Their IT Operations. Part Three of Five.

January 16, 2013

Legal IT Outsourcing Within an IT Strategy – Starting With Successful Partner Selection

OK so now the combination of IT issues and a pressing need for IT to push forward on business enabling initiatives has brought you to the point where outsourcing Legal IT is an attractive option.

This post helps to place outsourcing within an overall IT strategy and offers advice and tips on selecting potential outsourcing partners.

The IT Strategy

If an IT Strategy is the definition of a desired future state (along with financials and plans to get there) – then outsourcing will always be just part of the big picture. You will need to think about and then set out where you want to be with technology infrastructure, applications, services offered, processes, organisation, skills and third parties (as a minimum).

It’s essential that this overall strategy is defined and exactly where the potential outsourcer will deliver within this overall context. You need to think about what technology they will (and will not) support, what skills will be required ‘in house’ and how the end to end service will be delivered to your end users.

Service Integration is the key here; in your target operating model you will have the outsourcer, your own team, software vendors supporting your key applications and possibly some existing services providers. Consider exactly how a service incident will be managed – who will they call, what happens next, who ‘owns’ the incident and is responsible for ultimate resolution and closure.

Once you have a clear picture of the future state and how exactly the outsourcing partner will fit in then you can start to think about engaging potential partners.

Selecting an Outsourcing Partner

Some tips on selecting the right outsourcing partner for you:

  1. Remember that any outsourcing initiative is just re-shaping your capability. You will still be responsible for the service and so whoever you choose to partner; you need to be happy with them as part of your team.
  2. Many players in the mid-market sector offer ‘managed services’. My experience is that a significant number of these companies really do not have the skills to professionally manage your systems, infrastructure and services. Organisations in the ‘rackspace’ or ‘colo’ market seek to move up the value chain but this is often to simply sell more racks. Similarly hardware and software resellers and hardware maintenance providers are looking to move into outsourcing but have little track record in systems and service management. You need to dig deep under the covers to weed out those who don’t have outsourcing as their core capability – in the next part I will look at how RFPs and ITTs help you do this.
  3. Remember that this is not just an outsourcing capability that you need. Any potential partner must be able to build the target environment (infrastructure, apps, processes), they also need strong project management capability to transition to the target environment (this is the really high risk part of the engagement) they then need to operate the equipment and manage the environment (operate and management are quite distinct and while many can operate, only a few can manage). In summary can they Build, Transition, Operate & Manage (BTOM)?

Summary

Look at the big picture – the end to end view of your desired IT capability – when considering where an outsourcing partner may help.

Build a target operating model and think about service integration.

Has any potential partner got real experience of outsourcing (or is it a managed service add-on to their core business) across the spectrum of BTOM?

In part 4 – I will look at some help around shaping the RFP/ITT and look at the transition from in house to outsourced provider.

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