Big brand name or BLMS?

There are several reasons why you might want to kick off a review of how robust and resilient your IT operation is:

  • it may be requested (or even demanded) by your regulatory body;
  • a run of serious incidents may have prompted exec management to insist on an independent check of the operation;
  • a run of service quality incidents may have eroded customer organisations’ confidence in your ability to deliver a critical business service for them.

Once you’ve decided to go ahead, you’ll have to find someone to do the review. It sounds like you need a big brand name consultancy. But before you go down that route, consider the following.

It’s very comprehensive, so it must be good.

In other words, the big brand consultancy has said it will take a lot of effort to do a thorough job.

In reality, the number of days will be inflated. They will be doubling up and putting a lot of unnecessary contingency in. You’re probably being quoted for twice the amount of effort it really needs.

The pre-sales conversation is impressive.

You’ll see the more experienced people during the sales process. Enjoy it while you can because you’re probably not going to see them again after they’ve got the Purchase Order. Once you’ve committed, it will be resourced by graduates who have been around for 3 or 4 years.

They have a very structured methodology.

They have a well-defined and documented process and method for the graduates to follow.

The fact is we all use a structured method. It boils down to gathering the right information; probing and questioning; listening and understanding; recording observations, issues, and risks; and recommending and agreeing action plans. To do this well, you need people who have lots of real experience from working inside an IT operation, not people who have stood on the outside looking in for  a couple of years.  The graduates from the big brand consultancies don’t have that experience, so they have to rely on the formulaic method they learned during their induction training.

Comprehensive quality of the final report.

It will, no doubt, comprise many pages. But one should not assume quantity means quality.

Senior managers tend to have very busy diaries. Do you really have the time to be wading through lots of padding?

From my experience, their reports will contain lots of open-ended ‘review’ actions and it will be difficult to relate actions back to observations, issues, and risks. Let’s face it, lots of these people haven’t been in a position where they’ve had to deliver this stuff.

Reassuringly expensive.

It is natural to expect something to be better quality when it is a much higher price. However, recognise that the day rate you are paying is near double what you should be paying. The big brands have got massive overheads and those graduates with firsts and 2.1’s from top universities expect big salaries.

(By the way, if that is a real concern for you, then the answer is ‘yes’ … I have a 2.1 in Engineering Science from one of our best universities. My colleagues have similar qualification gravitas too. You’ll not be missing out on that front)

So, ask yourself – is it reassuringly expensive, or luxuriously over-priced?

All in all, you’re going to be paying double the day rate for twice as much effort. That means you’re paying up to 4 times the amount you ought to be paying.

And you won’t benefit from the added value that our experience brings to your team members. 30 years of IT and management experience. That can rub off on your team, it can help your people grow.  I’m not sure what wisdom a 25 year old graduate can pass on to your team about managing IT systems and IT people … ?

What makes me say all this? Well, here’s a couple of reasons.

I started out with IBM and I thought I knew a lot about what it was like in the customer’s shoes. Then I joined HSBC and I realised how little I really knew. Being called about a production incident at 3 in the morning is a lot more serious than worrying about getting your latest set of powerpoint slides finished.

I took the lead running a programme of critical IT service reviews, using a structured method that a big name consultancy had followed with our IT teams in two countries. During our first review in Turkey, my team began cutting out the fat in a 9 week exercise. Our second review with a much larger IT division in Mexico took 6 weeks. Oh, and we stopped wasting time recording lots of useless data elements in the observations log.

If you’re looking for someone to undertake a pragmatic review of your IT operational resilience, get in touch and we can talk about the BLMS “friendly audit” option.

If you’re looking for bloated and luxuriously expensive, I’m afraid we can’t help you.

Contact us at:                                   07470 002019