In 2012 as part of a Government Digital Service reform, a new digital vision was established for large government departments and agencies. This vision included clear objectives to improve supplier transparency, deliver greater cost efficiency and increase contractual flexibility via the Crown Hosting Services and Digital Market Programmes. The objectives would be achieved through breaking up single-supplier, monolithic IT contracts, and re-aligning services under multiple specialist service providers. This approach is referred to as ‘disaggregation’ and has since become en vogue.
The principle remains today, as it did then, built on solid intentions. However, like so many of these circular trends, the vision grew legs, and before long, disaggregation was being adopted within the private sector and by companies of all sizes rather than the large government departments for which it was intended. It is clear that disaggregation was initially aimed at large departments that carried significant financial and contractual debt engrained within their antiquated contracts. Unfortunately, as adoption of disaggregation increased, its original intent faded, and for many small to medium sized enterprises the approach failed to fulfil its objectives.
My career has been caught in the middle of this disaggregation movement. Having been in the industry since 2006, and as Advanced’s Managed Service Practice Director, I have worked with businesses across public and private sectors, enabling business change and optimising IT operating models. I often debate the benefits of one model versus another whilst helping to realign those that have fallen fowl to the idealism of disaggregation.
When considering a multi-supplier model, the questions we should ask ourselves are:
- How will I ensure provider to provider collaboration and best working practices are enforced?
- How will I maximise operational efficiency and risk management?
- How will I truly achieve value for money?
Clearly a disaggregated model has its place, which I do not dispute. I have witnessed it operating as it should, delivering both service and business value. In these cases, success was due to a clearly defined operating and responsibility framework and this is typically recognised as Service Integration and Management (SIAM). Whether the SIAM function is managed internally or externally, an exercise to determine how the service will operate and what guardrails are required is a must and will maximise the potential for successful execution. Failure to complete such an exercise will almost certainly result in failure.
Unless your company is of an appropriate size or has an overly complex environment and supplier community, I would think long and hard about adopting a multisource model. There is a tendency for businesses that are experiencing problems with their IT service provider to overcomplicate the matter by disaggregating. The solution however could simply be to change provider. So, let’s not allow ourselves to be side-tracked by buzz words and trending initiatives that will ‘change your life for the better’ or to be swept along by cult mentality. If you have a single IT outsource supplier today that is not working, perhaps it’s not the operating model, perhaps it is simply the supplier. Are they the right partner for your journey?
If you have either been through or are in the midst of multi-sourcing and are experiencing higher operating costs, less visible performance data and eroding user experience, perhaps you should ask yourselves “Is it time to consider Re-aggregation…?”
Managed Service Practice Director – Advanced