It’s set to be a great year for IT service providers. The recent quarterly IT Outsourcing (ITO) Index from outsourcing research and analysis firm NelsonHall forecasts that the IT services market will grow by three percent in the first quarter of 2015. According to the report, due to improved economic conditions, clients are getting back into ‘investment mode’ and the ITO market has stopped shrinking for the first time since 2012. Hopefully with this influx of growth, the IT services market will see more clients invest in long term contracts, buying a wider range of services.
This is great news for all those who deliver IT services, creating a real opportunity to take 2015 by the horns and capitalise on the new opportunities for growth and profitability. However, with any growth, it is essential for IT service providers to have the right business processes in place to ensure continuity of service to customers, while also delivering beneficial margins.
Hurdles for IT service providers to overcome
IT service providers need to constantly juggle a range of projects and customers, matching people with relevant skills to meet requirements, while still ensuring that every customer gets the same level of service. Growth can therefore complicate things quickly. If IT service providers do not have an overview of their portfolio of projects, or the ability to view the upcoming projects, there will be a lack of strategic alignment and IT service providers will not be able to effectively prioritise new investments with business priorities. This could result in ‘project overload’, whereby a lack of available resources means they cannot meet project demand. As a result deadlines with existing and new customers could be missed - or even turned down - damaging revenues, reputation and potentially shrinking market share as customers go elsewhere.
Another issue they may face is when a project is taking longer than expected, with associated costs escalating. This can lead to IT service providers having a lack of visibility into their project portfolio and not knowing where they are lacking resources or vice versa. For example, the problems may be due to lack of (or incomplete) project documents which outline issue lists, risk logs, status updates and project plans; showing how long a project is taking and any issues it may have encountered along the project timeline.
Preparing for success
To overcome these hurdles, IT service providers need to have an overview and understanding of projects’ processes, timeline, costs, and issues, as well as a good understanding of which staff are managing each project to help streamline operations, cut costs and manage the projects. This will provide IT service providers with the understanding and knowledge of each project and an overview of the project portfolio so they do not go over the time outlined or cost more than expected.
What’s needed is complete visibility of the employees working on each project, how long it takes them to complete a project and an understanding of which projects are taking longer than expected. They also need clear accounts from the people physically working on the projects, as well as the expenses and costs associated with each one. This will help IT service providers streamline operations by optimising staffing resources and manage projects more efficiently; and hopefully in turn customers receive a great service, which they will recommend to others.
They will also need full access to the platforms employees are working on to understand existing business processes and systems. Having visibility to these processes means IT service providers gain real time insight into each project, can better understand the business processes completely and get an enhanced view of the state of the business.
Visibility is key
For IT service providers to reap the expected growth and influx of sales, they must have a platform that provides real time visibility and a bird’s eye view of what is going on in the organisation so they can better analyse project data and improve control over strategic business portfolios.
With this visibility services can reap the benefits of improved quality and predictability of services and projects, outline a structure of projects to ensure they stay on schedule, remain within budget and address customer needs. Visibility will also help to reduce operational costs by streamlining processes and improving resource utilisation. Then IT service providers will ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and drive strong margins for a successful and profitable 2015. This may begin to help the IT services market to get back on its feet after a couple of rocky years.