C-BIA FLEXIBLE IT SUPPORT : Are all your applications feeling the love?

The C-BIA Flexible IT Support Service

IT development and support for business-critical systems where speed-to-market and innovation are essential to remain competitive is a tricky business. But what about those systems that are essential but not business critical? What can be done to ensure user satisfaction, maintain performance and manage costs? This is where our Flexible IT Support service is targeted to deliver measurable cost savings and improve quality and transparency.

“Overall, the market will continue to grow, with 31% of UK clients planning to outsource more and 15% planning to outsource less. ‘Don’t know’ was up to 19% from 13% last year.”

PA Consulting UK IT Outsourcing Study 2020

Are all your applications feeling the love?

You’ve probably got your business-critical application portfolio covered for support and maintenance, but how about those applications that get left behind? Those that never ‘feel the love’ yet can be equally critical if the timing of a failure is particularly poor. Maybe it’s the ageing database that supports Sue in Finance with her annual VAT return. Or the bespoke interface from the CRM system that feeds data to your advertising agency? Were these written by Steve in IT who left 2 years ago without leaving any documentation? Are they using outdated (and unsupported) technology and a pending security risk?

Take a look at ‘21st Century University IT Outsourcing: Saving Money AND Improving user satisfaction’ for some insights on the benefits of outsourcing…

Let’s look at something even more basic; do you feel you’ve got a complete understanding of your applications portfolio? Are these assets clearly owned, defined, registered and how they are hosted and supported, and by whom? Are their security models fully understood and potential vulnerabilities risk assessed?

“Running outdated software may make your organisation more vulnerable to viruses, malware and ransomware attacks and compromise the integrity of your data. Even if the software in question holds no data or limited information, the outdated software vulnerabilities may provide a route for an attacker to gain access to the remainder of your systems and data.”

www.armadillosec.co.uk/unsupported-software-whats-the-risk/

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so let’s start by looking at those applications that are non-critical but are still capable of giving you a considerable headache when things go wrong.

(We’ll return to determining whether you have gaps in your understanding of your applications portfolio in a later post and how we can help with that).

The problem and how you could deal with it …

Let’s take a look at the challenges these bring. At the core of this is user frustration, extended loss of service, slow incident response times and poor service levels. Not something a CIO or CTO likes to see, or something business users should tolerate. Maybe you’ve tried some solutions, or got some in mind already, such as:

Get an in-house developer to pick it up…

Alright in theory but do you have a person with the right skills and availability? And a backup option to cover for leave and sickness? And how do you think they will like being allocated this sort of work? (Hint: do you see staff aspirations including “supporting undocumented legacy code using out-dated technology” when you look at their appraisal forms)? And what chance is there they will be spirited away onto higher priority work at the earliest opportunity, never to return?

Of course, you can re-write the application IF you have the funds and management bandwidth. But that’s rarely an option given more strategic business priorities.

PS We’ll also return to this issue in a in a later post…

Find an external specialist to come in at short notice…

Great in theory but there are common problems with this approach. Who wants to work on undocumented legacy code in an unsupported technical environment? Well, almost nobody … ;). An external resource will be hard to find and even if you can, they are typically unavailable at short notice. And they will ALWAYS be expensive and a short-term fix, with no retained knowledge reusable for the next time.


What C-BIA can do to help you…

Addressing this problem is something C-BIA is well equipped to do. From providing dedicated support cover where it’s needed, through to upgrading applications that utilise outdated technology, we have the answer. Here’s how we go about doing it …

  • Initial Scoping Study – Before entering into a contract, we review each application in the proposed portfolio and recommend and cost a support plan for each. This scoping study may be chargeable, but any costs will be off-set against a signed contract, typically 3 years.
  • Knowledge acquisition – If contracted, we invest in acquiring up-front knowledge of your applications.
  • Core and Flexible components – Typically there are two categories of service we provide – Core and Flexible.
    • The Core component overs the base support effort required to document, maintain and fix systems. The Core component is planned and fully committed each month.
    • The Flexible component is reserved for ad-hoc urgent activities that may arise over the contract period. Unused amounts of this flexible component can be carried-forward, up to the end of the Quarter. This provides flexibility to deal with unpredicted or changing user and business needs.
  • Dynamic reporting – We provide a single overarching support, development, and reporting framework for the entire portfolio with both generic and application specific KPIs (where required).
  • Dedicated management – Our dedicated account service manager handles all resources and ensures KPI and contract compliance. They also publish a monthly performance dashboard online for review and feedback. And we offer quarterly review meetings (onsite or remote) to identify improvements and new requirements (see Keeping the CIO Informed for more on this.)

The C-BIA Services Portfolio

Our Flexible IT Support Service (FITTS) is a managed service and an integrated part of our full service portfolio. It shares resources and with and enables access to other service expertise as and when needed. A good example of this is our .NET migration service.

Is any application too small, too old or ‘clapped out’?

Not really! We’ll look at anything, and provided a contract is signed at the end of the scoping study the cost is offset against the contract. We’ve been handed some ‘right bags of bolts’ and still managed to come through for our customers. As for technology, well we’ll look at pretty much anything, including Microsoft Excel, Access, SQL, .NET, PHP, JavaScript, Oracle and other database applications, including Open Source. Did someone say Microfocus COBOL – just let us at it …

Want to know more?

Take a look at Keeping the CIO informed to unbderstand how we ensure we deliver value. And contact us at info@c-bia.co.uk to find out more and request a scoping study and no obligation quote!