I am pleased to welcome Martin Schubert to the Open Communications Blog. Martin has graciously provided an article on 5 key steps for implementing UCC with managed services. Thanks Martin for this insightful article.
Don’t let rapidly evolving technologies and multi-vendor IT and communications environments create havoc and confusion in your organization. As enterprises assess how to build, deploy, and manage their unified communications and collaboration (UCC) strategy, they are increasingly turning to managed services to ensure success. A 2009 Frost & Sullivan survey of C-level executives found that more than 50 percent of respondents intended to increase their usage of managed services over the following year.
Using a managed services partner to outsource non-core functions can significantly reduce the complexity of your UCC deployment. But to make the relationship a success, there are five key steps that you should follow when building your UCC sourcing strategy.
Step 1: Evaluate your current IT environment
Enterprise IT is becoming increasingly more complex and diverse as a result of mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, multi-vendor technology integrations and a growing number of remote workers. Many organizations don't have an accurate assessment of their current IT infrastructure environment and therefore need to take stock as a first step in the planning process.
In the evaluation phase, you will need to take a complete inventory of your infrastructure assets and network, staff skills and capabilities, and total cost of ownership. This needs to be combined with a detailed understanding of how your IT strategy aligns with current business direction. You may even consider engaging external consultants to assist with this evaluation.
Step 2: Set clear objectives
Determine the exact areas in your company that you’ll find to be most beneficial to outsource and align clear and measurable expectations. Objectives should incorporate answers to your costs and quality of service (QoS) requirements:
- · Cost transparency: what do you want to pay for and where do you expect to save money
- · Define your service-level expectations
- · What business continuity, security risks and security constraints should be accounted for?
- · What business processes would you need to integrate with network monitoring tools to resolve issues and network failures?
- · What are your reporting, review and escalation needs?
Step 3: Create a detailed migration plan
Implementing a UCC environment requires successful deployment, integration and coordination of key functional elements. You will need a well-constructed migration plan that will provide clear direction and roles for your own organization and managed services partner, including:
- What skills will you need?
- What are the key milestones?
- What is your preferred migration or cut-over path (geographical, functional, line of business)?
- What are your escalation points?
The outline of these criteria will serve as a formative guide when evaluating and selecting a managed services provider. The more you can uncover deficiencies in your IT and communications systems, the more you can leverage a partner’s strengths.
Step 4: Select a managed services provider
There are several factors to consider when evaluating vendors. Providers need to be able to handle extensive IP data networking and real-time communications with products from a variety of vendors. Experienced partners also need to offer a comprehensive product and services portfolio including advanced, scalable solutions your company can grow into.
Review a provider’s implementation history and track record to understand their key strengths and abilities. Large enterprises should search for providers with broad geographic coverage to manage consolidation across dispersed locations. Finally, the financial viability of a provider is important in guaranteeing the long-term objectives and requirements as your company evolves over time.
Making the right decision takes pre-planning and diligence, but the end result can be a forward-thinking, productive relationship essential for business-process success.
Step 5: Maintain an effective partner relationship
Once you’ve chosen your provider, create a working group or task force to define the key collaborative processes that can be impacted by a UCC initiative. Take advantage of your vendor’s knowledge transfer and look at similar projects implemented for other customers to help reduce lengthy project duration. Tap into your providers’ technical and customer service staff capabilities and keep the communication and feedback open to increase productivity and success.
The last and most important aspect in managing your vendor is to maintain predictable costs and quality of service. Your service-level agreement should be reviewed continuously to make sure you are receiving the quality of work your company has paid for.
Martin Schubert is senior vice president of services for Siemens Enterprise Communications and is responsible for managed services globally. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.