Keys to effective transition management

Keys to effective transition management

David Rovinsky

Ah, the hard work is finally over. Your data centre outsourcing contract is negotiated. You’re busy building the partnership. Soon you’ll be enjoying all the advantages of your newly formed relationship: access to highly skilled people and the latest technologies, improved operations, and many other value-added benefits.

Not so fast. These aren’t the keys to the summer cottage you’re handing over here. This is your organization we’re talking about.

Since the transition sets a tone that will last the entire engagement, you need an all-encompassing management approach. One that provides a thoroughly considered, systematic transfer of responsibilities from you to your outsourcer.

The objective of transition management is three-fold: to ensure that there is no disruption to your organization; to hand off responsibilities at a specific time; and, to make sure the transition is smooth and orderly.

The overriding goal is to minimize risk.

Experience shows this can best be achieved when transition management is an integral component of your outsourcing strategy, not an afterthought.

The transition involves three distinct phases: due diligence, transition, and data centre migration. Within each phase, to ensure a complete transfer of information, four major components are addressed: process, people, technology and culture.

Process focuses on how work gets done within your organization.

The people component ensures work patterns are documented and that the outsourcer understands how best to serve the individual and collective needs of users.

Technology addresses the platforms that are deployed, production schedules and where tools and software are located.

The final component seeks to define the culture of the organization. This ensures the appropriate sense of urgency and focus are applied to the systems at the right time.

The first phase of our overall transition approach, due diligence, has four major objectives: establish an information baseline; develop detailed understanding of client operations, procedures, and policies; develop contingent contractual agreements with thirdparty vendors to ensure uninterrupted operations when migration occurs; and, create statements of work that detail service delivery commitments.

Each transition task is necessary to ensure that system operations are not disturbed and that qualified personnel are transferred to the outsourcer in a responsible manner.

Our approach brings together a team of specialists who put in place program infrastructure, assist the outsourcer in timely assumption of responsibility, and ensure that the effort gets off to a positive start.

The plan should include all transition activities and schedules, transition roles and responsibilities for client and outsourcer, risk management issues, and reporting and problem escalation mechanisms for the transition period.

Establishing a program management office is also recommended. Activities for this office include implementing controls, policies, and procedures for the day-to-day operation of the contract and business operations in areas such as finance, human resources, contracts, corporate liaison, and management reporting.

Critical to your success is a human approach to human resources. Hold meetings early and often. Continued employment in a like environment is foremost on the employee’s mind.

Generally, the outsourcer can offer a broader range of career growth opportunities to data centre employees. This and other positives need to be emphasized when dealing with employees prior to and during the transition.

Be sure to identify top performers so the outsourcer can recruit them as they would other key people.

You also need a plan for those employees who decline employment with the outsourcer. Consider using them to mentor hired replacements for a few months. They will be invaluable in affecting a smooth transition.

The third phase is data centre migration.Issues addressed during this phase include processing environments, assessing the financial implications of alternatives, analyzing workloads, designing new facilities and configurations, and developing detailed plans to migrate full systems hardware, software and support.

David Rovinsky

The author is the managing director of program management for Unisys Outsourcing in Pennsauken, NJ.

Copyright Plesman Publications Ltd. Feb 1999

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