"As a direct result of the project work, we have made considerable cost savings, something that can only benefit our business." - Ian Williams, Information and Systems Project Manager, BT Wholesale
Outsourcing laptop upgrades saves time and money for BT
When "Wholesale Markets" - the customer-facing sector of BT Wholesale that provides BT network products and services to other licenced operators and service providers - decided to outsource the upgrade of laptops for its own existing users, they didn't have far to look.
In a drive to enhance management processes, senior management from its Information and Systems team, which runs the IT infrastructure for its 3,500 staff, many of whom are based at its Gatwick head office in West Sussex, had been tasked with reviewing innovative business solutions.
The initiative led to the decision to outsource some of these processes, including a project refreshing the hardware of an initial 500 of BT Wholesale's existing laptop users to free up valuable resources to concentrate on key business areas such as evaluating future technologies and developing tactical systems.
"We had clear criteria for outsourcing the project," says Ian Williams, Information and Systems Project Manager. "We looked for a local company who understood our business to ensure that they would do everything in their power to offer the quality and value for money we required."
Companies were invited to tender for the outsourcing project, and following review of the proposals in early 2002, the senior management committee chose Crawley-based laptop support specialists TEK Express to undertake it. "All our laptops are on a three-year cycle of use and after this time the hardware requires refreshing, so that our staff have the facility to continually offer the level of service expected from BT" Ian Williams explains. "In this instance, we were upgrading to a new product, the Toshiba Tecra, and were looking for the best possible value for money solution," he adds. "BT was seeking a fast, responsive partner, who understood its problem and could solve it cost effectively," Mr Williams goes on. "TEK Express seemed to fit the bill - local and young but with extensive specialist experience in-house of the IT industry, and who were very competitive against the market."
Before rolling out the main project, BT put TEK Express to the test to see how well they could manage under pressure. "They completed a small one-off task for us and they proved their worth, giving us the comfort and confidence to award them the larger project," Mr Williams adds. "We needed a company who could manage our users' expectations, - which included the asset management task of removing the old hardware - backing up data and controlling the transfer and migration processes, including handling the disposal of the old hardware, efficiently and to deadline."
Phase 1 began in March 2002, with a final deadline for completion by Christmas the same year. TEK Express had a target of managing the refreshment of 24 laptops a week, for staff based at Gatwick.
TEK Express was also asked to manage the upgrades from alternative offices in Manchester and Wolverhampton. TEK Express performed the engineering transfer, however the overall project management task was Ian Williams' responsibility, as he explains. "The company made great efforts to fit into the team quickly and did everything in their power to maintain stability with the end use. The project required careful handling and after the initial three-month "bedding in" period, both sides were clearer on each other's expectations and the project continued to go from strength to strength." Communication throughout the project was critical to its success," Mr Williams remembers. "They kept in close contact and supplied me with twice-weekly status reports, which ensured that I knew what had been achieved at all times. All in all I was impressed by their customer management skills and was confident of their ability to complete the project on deadline and within budget."
Management of user expectations proved to be one of TEK Express' most important achievements. "At the beginning the project, we introduced additional Microsoft domain administration policies. Thanks to TEK Express' professional management and their efficiency in keeping our staff informed about these policy changes, any objections were overcome swiftly and without issue."
Cost savings proved a major benefit of the project, as Mr Williams concludes. "As a direct result of the project work, we have made considerable cost savings, something that can only benefit our business."
TEK Express too have benefited, explains their Technical Director Richard Ashdown. "Many new policies have evolved out of the laptop projects that would not necessarily have come about, certainly not in the timescales involved. "Through our continual evolvement and improvement of the service, we have helped to set new standards. We understood the importance of asset management from the beginning, for example tracking the inventory, which aided in the update for the central call management system used by BT," he adds. "As a small, dynamic company, we can afford to show greater flexibility than many other larger organisations", stresses Sam Francis, TEK Express Commercial Director. "We were prepared to provide the service before the finance had gone through - not all companies are in a position to do that." "It's a fact that large organisations such as BT will never have enough resources and so need to source externally for projects. That's where a specialist support company such as TEK Express can satisfy their requirements." With Phase 1 of the original project completed satisfactorily, TEK Express is continuing its work with BT Wholesale to complete Phases 2 and 3 of the refreshment project, which will eventually have reached over 1,200 laptop users.
Sam Francis summarises the three key qualities they brought to the project:
- Customer focus - our name is on the block for the day-to-day project work, handing out personal numbers to users to ensure 100% satisfaction. This really does stand out for accountability.
- Time efficiency - The prediction of BT was that TEK Express would achieve four upgrades daily, however, an average of eight was achieved, minimising project duration.
- Documentation improvement - TEK Express continually improved their processes of information collation, which included a friendly form that all users had to complete.
TEK Express provide a three-phased approach to servicing clients:
- Project definition workshop - Goals, objectives and boundaries; tasks and work definition; risks, assumptions and issues; milestones and time constraints; current support and project management.
- Definition and planning - Process mapping; call management including Helpdesk; skills requirement; inventory management; logistics; stock handlingPage 3 of 3
- Implementation - Import inventory or carry out audit; allocation of resource; production of procedures; training; system integration
Case studies of service contracts run by TEK Express are available, as are examples of savings made by clients who have outsourced their mobile support and fault management systems to TEK Express.