A successful meeting was held in November by the CUA's recently formed Business Partner Group, a new body which aims to help IBM and its business partners work more closely together.
Although an initial meeting was held by the group shortly after its formation, earlier this summer, this was the first themed event that it has undertaken.
After consultation with group members it was clear that there was a need for partners to meet with IBM channel executives in order for each party to set out their own needs and objectives, and these matters were the focus of this meeting.
Around 30 Business Partners attended the meeting to hear senior IBM executives explain their value proposition in working with Business Partners, what it expected from such relationships and what Partners should expect.
IBM's software partnership policy was outlined, the current arrangements described and a glimpse was given of what to expect in the future. A representative from IBM Global Services then provided an overview of what IBM aims to achieve with Business Partners in the increasingly important services area.
Ray Titcombe, CUA chairman and a member of the BPG's committee, said: "A lot of information channels were discussed and ways of working reviewed with active participation by all. There was very useful feedback to and from presenters and the audience, on processes used and how the future business planning was going to evolve."
The meeting achieved the objectives set, he said. "All agreed it was a great success and many people made requests for future meetings and outline plans were agreed. The purpose was always to get BPs and IBM together to openly discuss BP strategy as well as the reasons for clearly understanding all of the relationships and ways of working. It provided a good way to clear the air regarding future options for all."
Preparations will soon be under way for the next BPG event, which is to be held in April 2002. This will cover IBM Finance options and offerings and will provide a forum for the continuing review of Business Partner relationships and communications with IBM, as well as to further their networking opportunities.
November's Executive Briefing covered the topic of multi-vendor service levels and quality, chosen because users often find that when a piece of kit or software goes wrong it is hard to get a supplier to take responsibility, and even when they do own up the level of service does not match the price paid.
This briefing was designed to comment on this issue, and sought to advise members as to how such matters can be resolved. Topics covered included vendor interfaces and penalties, monitoring quality and the user perception, how to manage multi-platform environments in terms of service and quality, managing user expectations of monitoring versus management, and how to use Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to manage service offerings. The briefing was well attended and well received, said its organiser, Geoff Petherick of the CUA.
In December Common UK, the iSeries section of the CUA, is staging a two-day Winter Symposium, Getting it Right with iSeries in the E-Business World, on December 3 and 4 at the Stratford-upon-Avon Moat House Hotel. The event is aimed at iSeries technicians and decision makers as well as existing iSeries customers and IBM Business Partner iSeries prospects and promises to be an exceptionally informative event.
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The CUA's mission is to support and extend the use of IT within member organisations, and to provide members with an independent forum in which to exchange information with their peers and an influential voice to those organisations which shape the IT environment. By joining the CUA you will have access to other members with similar concerns and get the low-down on what's going on. You can find out what new developments IBM has up its sleeve, and how they may affect you. You can take part in forming the new shape of the CUA as it moves forward into this new millennium. The CUA runs a regular newsletter, monthly briefings, free legal advice, and a friendly, efficient secretariat.
To join, or find out more, contact the secretariat on: 020 8518 5110, or visit the CUA Web site at www.ibm-cua.org.uk