The increased drive globally for outsourced services is becoming more and more evident in our local market, with IT outsourcing becoming a focus area gaining increased attention. South Africa is now being mentioned in the same space as traditional low cost outsourcing leader India, with hosting solutions, data centres and cloud computing becoming more and more accessible.
ERP users have traditionally resisted moves to outsourced infrastructure and services for a variety of reasons. These include security concerns, both infrastructure and data, as well as a perceived risk associated with the dilution of skills that have traditionally existed in-house within hardware, database and applications support teams.
According to a 2016 Deloitte survey on the value of Outsourcing, a shift in the forces driving outsourcing is evident. Whilst cost reduction was a factor raised by 59% of respondents as a desired outcome and efficiency improvements by 20%, the savviest organisations were using outsourcing to drive innovation internally into their own business, creating new platforms to address sales opportunities and focus on lowering operating costs.
“Over the last six years our surveys have seen significant change in the market’s opinion and perception of outsourced services. These trends toward rapid change and disruption in the outsourcing market will likely continue well beyond 2018, and could be the new normal. As organizations examine their present service delivery environment, they should find clear opportunities to enhance organizational value by more fully accessing the innovation marketplace through the channel that outsourcing makes possible.” – Deloitte – 2016 Outsourcing Survey.
Within ACS, the benefits of an “outsourced” approach were the driving force behind establishing our internal Support Centre 5 years ago. Focussed on providing a support function to our clients through the Embrace Help Desk, the centre also provides an internal support function across ACS, bringing together expertise and a knowledge base that provides insight into all aspects of Embrace, from R&D to training, from implementation to client support, from system administration to problem resolution.
Embrace Outsourced Support Desk
The internal benefits derived from using the support centre have been immense and led to a strategic decision being taken to extend the reach and provide an Outsource Support Desk offering to our Embrace clients. Earlier this year, we took over the role of providing a dedicated Embrace support function for MAN Truck & Bus and their Dealer network. This included transferring MAN’s Embrace support staff over to ACS and incorporating them into the ACS-Embrace Support Centre.
In our experience, the turnaround time required for dealing with critical issues has been greatly reduced, with immediate response and quick resolution. The ACS Outsource team work in close proximity of each other and are able to provide more efficient support services with direct access to the full spectrum of all ACS technical resources and departments, including R&D, Custom Development and Projects.
The structured, well-managed Support Centre can provide support directly to users, as a first line support offering, typically via the client’s internal liaison person, as well as secondline support where the first line help desk function is handled by another outsourced call centre.
Proactive call management through to resolution is handled though our internal Support Desk Management system, with our team dedicated to investigate, analyse and resolve Embrace related incident logs speedily and efficiently. Regular reporting and feedback meetings are held to measure progress and continuously assess and ensure that agreed Service Levels are maintained.
Additional service offerings include standby support, both ad hoc and regular, user training, aligned to client business processes, as well as support during User Acceptance Testing (UAT) periods when implementing upgrades and Service Packs.
Housekeeping is an integral part of system administration, stability and integrity. Whilst IT often make efforts to address housekeeping requirements, these efforts are impacted by both time constraints and IT resource availability and as a result housekeeping often does not receive consistent attention. The managed implementation of a comprehensive housekeeping policy by the Outsourced Support Desk can have a significant impact on the improved and effective use of your Embrace system.
As with housekeeping, time constraints for in-house support staff can cause delays in responding to user queries, resulting in significant user frustration and their need to find a workaround. These workarounds often impact data integrity and the benefits of having an integrated ERP system. Providing timely user support can reduce or eliminate these instances.
With limited internal IT resources at many client sites, a lot of time is often spent dealing with daily queries that could easily be handled by the ACS-Embrace Support Centre, freeing up valuable time for your internal resources to focus on their most essential tasks, such as the implementation of additional Embrace functionality, adding real value and improving operational effectiveness
For the CIO this approach will lead to improved internal IT service levels, for users an improved end user experience and by utilising resources more effectively, increased benefits will be delivered to the business as a whole. Outsourcing-done-right can reduce costs and help maintain and improve competitive advantage!
ACS-Embrace has now formally entered the Outsource space and we are planning to grow our footprint and offerings in this area. Building on our initial framework, we will expand by increasing our resources and offerings and together with our business partners, provide other outsourced IT services such as Desktop and infrastructure support. The goal is for us to become a single point of contact offering seamless excellent support for all our clients’ IT needs and to find innovative ways for ACS and your IT team to provide systems, processes and platforms geared towards your business success.