As IT leaders, we are often interested in what other CIOs are doing, and what’s going on in the industry. We attend conferences, network with other IT leaders, and read blogs and articles on social media. There is a tremendous amount of information and insight through these channels; yet, you still need an established framework to effectively evaluate the options best suited for your environment.
By now, you’re probably aware that the role of the CIO is changing to include the function of an internal service broker for an enterprise, making the evaluation of the marketplace for sourcing data center and infrastructure support services all the more critical in order for CIOs to find the best possible solutions, service, and price.
Establishing the Framework
What is the best possible scenario for your company to achieve better service and lower costs, and consequently, better results? The answer lies within a solid understanding of your current and future IT infrastructure service and cost. Each situation is unique depending on your platforms, application architecture, staff, service objectives, age of equipment, vendors, processes, tools, and future direction.
Fortunately, there are ways to define and normalize your IT infrastructure services to be comparable to the commodity services available in the marketplace today, enabling you to make more strategic and informed decisions regarding your IT environment once the comparison is made. To summarize, the process involves just two steps:
- Baseline your current and future infrastructure service
The first step is to baseline your current and future infrastructure service - this baseline becomes your IT Infrastructure Service Profile (ITIP). With an industry awareness of marketplace service offerings, the ITIP is organized to define those commodity support services that are candidates for sourcing. The ITIP provides a C-level dashboard of your current and future infrastructure service and cost. It becomes the decision framework for your sourcing strategy. Key volumes (current and future state), service objectives, and unit costs are established. With your baseline complete, you have a strong start to gaining valuable insight into the market and defining the best opportunities for sourcing.
- Engage with potential service providers and demonstrate marketplace interest
The next step is to use your service profile to engage with potential service providers and to demonstrate your interest in the marketplace. Potential service providers will be driven by the opportunities discovered during the baseline exercise, your size and scope, and current and future direction. It’s also important to encourage the providers to respond in innovative ways to meet your current and future requirements. Your service baseline sets current state and direction without prescribing how to get there. Through this process you will learn more about your commodity services and cost, gain valuable market insight, and create a fair and balanced comparison to potential marketplace solutions. Culture, fit, and risks will all be clarified as you go into more and more detail, resulting in a positive experience for all parties involved.
By going through this process with an agile approach, that is, to iteratively create an end-to-end view of your service roadmap and potential solutions, you will create the best possible scenario for success through the proper comparison and evaluation of solutions. Along the way, you will also gain that critical organizational buy-in through the knowledge that, as your organization’s internal service broker, you have clearly defined your services and costs, and the proper steps have been taken to ensure that the best possible price and service are achieved for your organization.