IT documents and templates – why reinvent the wheel?


For many years the consulting industry has enjoyed the luxury of charging (in many cases) very high rates for material and deliverables that have been recycled from other similar client engagements and modified to meet the requirements of the new client. This allows consulting organizations to continue to maximize margins using lower skilled resources to reuse (rather than create) materials that are required as deliverables and outputs as part of the project or engagement.

Whilst reuse is not possible in all cases, there is a wealth of information that is common to many assignments. This reusable information is usually “closely guarded” by consulting organizations and so it is very difficult to obtain anywhere else apart from freelance professionals.

We strongly believe that there is a real need to provide an on-line service that delivers reusable templates, presentations, documents and tools to clients who do not wish to engage a consulting firm to achieve a business objective or wish to reduce the costs of a consulting engagement through the availability of key documents that can be tailored to your individual requirements.

The material found on this web site www.consultingcloud.org has been built up over many years of face-to-face consulting by a select group of experienced freelance professionals.

We believe that, with the pervasiveness of the internet, now is the time to use this technology to deliver quality and in-depth consulting material on-line, with substantial time and cost savings to be gained by those who use the service.

This www.consultingcloud.org website has a comprehensive range of documents to assist businesses to fast track project implementation, improve processes and save money. The template categories cover a range of business and Information Technology functions and processes.

IT Transition Plan


Save time in preparing a transition plan with our comprehensive IT Transition Plan Templates that are designed to be tailored for your specific situation. Read More….
Consulting Cloud’s library of documents, samples and templates, are available at very affordable prices, and are available to save a business time, money and stress on hiring a consulting firm. An IT Transition Plan Template example outlines activities, roles and responsibilities for a changeover of infrastructure.

An IT Transition Plan Template from Consulting Cloud will save time and stress when preparing for a changeover project. When a business needs to change its technological infrastructure for example, it can create problems, so it’s vital to ensure planning is put in place to minimise disruption.

The IT Transition Plan Template is managed as a project and planning should be structured to minimise issues and problems in this often difficult and sometime chaotic process. The IT Transition Plan Template should outline the method, and provide a clear description of the obligations of both parties, in relation to the project. The document can also provide details for briefing stakeholders, and for handing over the newly acquired services to the operational teams. Consulting Cloud is an online consulting business which, through its vast collection of templates, samples, presentation and documents can support businesses. These documents can be of assistance when a changeover is to be taking place, new goals to be set or new projects to be taken on. The pre implementation stage and planning, is often the most important step for pre-empting and minimising problems.

Consulting Cloud’s IT Transition Plan template, a comprehensive document, can assist in briefing stakeholders, and handing over newly acquired services to the operational teams. Don’t get caught up with outsourcing, or not preparing and planning adequately. Use an example, and tailor it for your circumstances.

An IT Transition Plan Template is easily tailored and will vary depending on the company, industry and individuals involved. These factors will determine whether the document will be intended for executives, or for a customer transfer. For executives, the document will discuss the proposed schedule, associated key milestones and handling arrangements. Whereas if the document is intended for a customer transfer, the IT transition Plan should outline the customer transfer time frame. In this case, updates may also be necessary to discuss the progress and any variations that may have developed over time. Browse through the comprehensive Consulting Cloud templates to find the best suited sample for your company’s situation. The viewing tool allows people to see how detailed the samples are, and to what extent the sections and guidelines will help to create the project planning document.

What is an IT Strategic Plan and what does it contain?


Developing an IT Strategic Plan will help better align your IT function with the business and also build a common understanding among stakeholders about how investments in technology will be used to support the company strategy.

Ideally the IT Strategic Plan should be based on the company strategy. However in many organizations, particularly small companies, no documented business strategy exists. If the organization hasn’t formalized such a business strategy, then IT executives can help the business managers to draw these up. Alternatively you will need to identify the de facto business objectives, priorities, and results on your own and use them to build your IT Strategic Plan.

If you are creating an IT Strategic Plan then the list below might be a useful for the content of the document. Remember that you should create your IT Strategic Plan with the assumption that anyone reading the document has no prior knowledge about the company i.e. the IT Strategic Plan should be able to standalone without reference to other company documentation.
You can find a fully detailed and expanded IT Strategic Plan by clicking here.

Executive Summary
Purpose of the ICT Strategy
Company ICT Vision
Current State Assessment
Recommendations
The Future State
Implementation Plan
Implementation Costs
Critical Success Factors
Introduction
Scope
Purpose
Approach
Interview / Workshops
Document Structure
Background
Company Overview
Company Strategic Objectives
Company Business Units
Company Capabilities and ICT Expectations
ICT Strategic Vision
ICT Strategy Vision
Guiding Principles of ICT Strategy
Current State Assessment
Current IT Environment
Previous ICT Strategy
Findings
Current Initiatives
Recommendations
Summary of Recommendations
The Future State
Critical Success Factors
Prioritization
Prioritization Process
Ranking of Company Organizational Capabilities
Capability and Initiatives
Prioritized Project List
Implementation Plan
Appendix A – Initiatives Detailed
Appendix B – Stakeholders Interviewed
Appendix C – Documents Reviewed
Appendix D – Risk and Value Rating Key
Appendix E – Trends
Appendix F – Business Cases
Appendix G – Cost Estimates
Appendix H – IT Department Structure

What are Service Level Agreements? SLAs


A service level agreement (SLA) is a formal document that defines a working relationship between parties to a service contract. The standing of the SLA depends on whether the service is being provided by an internal (In-house central department/function) or an external (Bought-in) service provider.

As well as defining key areas, a Service Level Agreement Template will specify targets and minimum levels of services that are to be provided to a customer. A SLA can be an unofficial document written in simple terms or it can be written as a formal contract.

IT companies and IT providers use a Service Level Agreement for their customers to clearly have an outline of what it is the company is providing the customer, and at what levels the services will be provided. Consulting Cloud is an online consulting business that allows a business to purchase a template of a document, or a sample of a presentation, that they may require for a particular situation. A SLA is a document needed in many cases to outline to both the customers, and the company providing the services, what the standards are, and what the services provided actually are. IT companies often use a SLA to clearly outline, for example the performance of the services. A service level agreement template from Consulting Cloud will ensure the correct information is presented in the most appropriate document.

What is an IT Service Catalog?


A service catalog is a very useful tool for communicating the value of an IT department and what this brings to a business. Consulting cloud offers a template of this document to allow businesses to simply tailor the example for their specific company.

A key function of a Service Catalog template is to provide a basis for discussion of the services offered, and the constant assessment and improvement techniques of these services. If new services are added or amended, this information will go in the document. Consulting Cloud’s library of varying examples of templates, help to ensure every company and situation can be catered for. Browse through the list of samples, and find the correct document. It’s then a matter of tailoring this template with your company’s services, and making the document a true representation of your company’s services on offer.

A Service Catalog is a very valuable document, an inventory of all the services offered, with information on deliverables, costs and contacts. Once the document is created, it should be implemented and monitored by the Information Technology department.

For examples of IT Service Catalogs go to: http://www.consultingcloud.org/service_catalog_template

What’s in an Outsourcing Contract?


Outsourcing Contracts document the Terms and Conditions usually between a Customer and an external Vendor. Often a Contract or Agreement is also required when a Shared Service function is established within an organization. An Outsourcing Contract can also been called a Managed Services Contract, Managed Services Agreement, Outsourcing Agreement, Master Services Agreement, MSA, or a Services Agreement.

There can be many “styles” to Vendor contracts in particular. The “style” of contract usually depends very heavily on the type of Vendor you are dealing with. Broadly speaking, our view is that
there are two profiles for Outsourcing Vendors – those that use a “Vendor orientated” Contract where services are strictly governed by the contract and – those Vendors that are reasonably flexible and see the Contract as a “partnership” between the 2 organizations. These two types of Vendor will have different ways of structuring their Outsourcing Contracts.

In this Outsourcing Contract category Consulting Cloud offers samples of a number of different types of Outsourcing Contract. The category also contains sample Contracts for Shared Service functions. These contracts can be used for either comparison against a vendor contract or can be the basis for a customer contract.

Where you are dealing with a “Vendor orientated” Contract you must ensure that everything is clearly understood, in particular you need to understand the cost of change e.g. when there is a need to do something quicker than is stated in the Contract or you need some extra work performed that is not in the Contract. This is often where people get caught out. This type of Vendor is usually more suited to large multi-national organizations.

If however you are dealing with a more flexible Outsourcing Vendor, the Contract would typically be put in the “bottom draw” only to be accessed when an extension or major change to the Outsourcing service is required. If you use one of the Outsourcing Contracts on Consulting Cloud’s website it will give you something to compare to. Also don’t be afraid to say to the Vendor that you want to use your own Contract.

An excerpt from CIO Search
Never use a vendor template when you draw up an IT outsourcing contract. “They’re inherently slanted toward the vendor, and it’s going to take a lot to modify it,” said Helen Huntley, a research vice president and IT outsourcing analyst at Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based consultancy. Instead, look to your own legal team, and don’t be afraid to turn to a third-party firm for direction.

“[IT organizations] are going head to head with masters of negotiation,” she said. “If they don’t have a team with the same capability [in] understanding maturity about negotiations, they are not going to be as strong at the table.”

Take a hard look at your own procurement department before you entrust them with your IT outsourcing negotiations. Some procurement departments are very focused on cost, but that’s not necessarily the most important aspect of an IT outsourcing deal. “In outsourcing, you could be buying something more service-related and relationship-driven — it’s different than buying printers,” Huntley said.

Enterprises should consider a few main factors from the get-go, said Tom Lang, a partner and managing director at TPI, a global sourcing advisory firm based in Houston.
“We always say, there are three legs on a stool: price, productivity factor and SLAs,” Lang said, calling pricing “the most complicated area of these deals.” Pricing algorithms, for example, are quite complex, and can be based on the number of quality, full-time employees devoted to a deal; the workload output; or other factors. As for productivity, it’s important to measure your own organization’s productivity levels before both parties can agree on the service levels the outsourcer is expected to maintain.

Samples of Outsourcing and other Service Contracts can be found at : http://www.consultingcloud.org/service_contract

What is a Risk Management Process?


A Risk Management Process is a method by which risks to the project (e.g. to the scope, deliverables, timescales or resources) are formally identified, quantified and managed during the execution of the project. The process entails completing a number of actions to reduce the likelihood of occurrence and the severity of impact of each risk. A Risk Management Plan is one of the outputs from this process. A Risk Management PlanTemplate is one of the documents you would use.

A Risk Management Plan template is used to ensure that every risk is formally: • Identified • Quantified • Monitored • Avoided, transferred or mitigated.

Although the Risk Management Plan Process is undertaken during the ‘Execution’ phase of the project (i.e. the phase within which the deliverables are produced), project risks may be identified at any stage of the project lifecycle. In theory, any risk identified during the life of the project will need to be formally managed as part of the Risk Management Process. Without a formal Risk Management Process in place the objective of delivering a solution within ‘time, cost and quality’ may be compromised. The Risk Management Process is terminated only when the Execution phase of the project is completed (i.e. just prior to Project Closure). A Risk Management Plan Template to assist with the development of a Risk Management Process for your project can be found at the Consulting Cloud website.

There are many different types of Risk Management available including Risk Log and Risk Management Plans

What is an RFP or RFT?


A request for tender (RFT) is a formal, structured invitation to suppliers for the supply of products or services. In the public sector, such a process may be required and determined in detail by law to ensure that such competition for the use of public money is open and fair. RFTs may be distributed to potential bidders through a tender service, allowing businesses to receive and search live tenders from a range of public and private sources. An RFT is usually an open invitation for suppliers to respond to a defined need as opposed to a request being sent to selected potential suppliers.

A request for proposal (RFP) is a solicitation made, often through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a service or asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals. It is submitted early in the procurement cycle, either at the preliminary study, or procurement stage. The RFP process brings structure to the procurement decision and is meant to allow the risks and benefits to be identified clearly up front. The RFP presents preliminary requirements for the commodity or service, and may dictate to varying degrees the exact structure and format of the supplier’s response. Effective RFPs typically reflect the strategy and short/long-term business objectives, providing detailed insight upon which suppliers will be able to offer a matching perspective.

Sample RFT and RFP documents can be found at http://www.consultingcloud.org/RFP_template

What is IT Governance ?


Gartner defines IT Governance as the processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.

IT demand governance is the process by which organizations ensure the effective evaluation, selection, prioritization, and funding of competing IT investments; oversee their implementation; and extract (measurable) business benefits. IT demand governance is a business investment decision-making and oversight process, and it is a business management responsibility. IT supply-side governance is concerned with ensuring that the IT organization operates in an effective, efficient and compliant fashion, and it is primarily a CIO responsibility.
Consulting Cloud provides a comprehensive range of documents to assist organizations to establish an effective IT Governance framework.
Organizations that do not have effective IT Governance will suffer from low performance, potentially bad service, increased risk and in effective resource allocation.
There are usually 4 pillars to IT governance – Enterprise Architecture; Portfolio Management; Project Management; and Information Risk and Security. Consulting Cloud provides a host of documents across many categories to assist with the setup and delivery of these pillars.

Why Outsource your Information Technology?


There are many reasons why companies outsource. Here are 9 of the top reasons:

  1. Reduce and control operating costs. When you outsource, you eliminate the costs associated with hiring an employee, such as management oversight, training, health insurance, employment taxes, retirement plans etc.
  2. Improve company focus. It is neither practical, nor possible to be a jack of all trades. Outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies while another company focuses on theirs.
  3. Gain access to exceptional capabilities. Your return on investment is so much greater when you outsource information technology to a firm that specializes in the areas you need. Instead of just the knowledge of one person, you benefit from the collective experience of a team of IT professionals. Outsourced IT companies usually require their IT staff to have proper industry training and certifications as well.
  4. Free internal resources for other purposes. You may have someone in your office that is pretty good with computers or accounting, but most likely these were not the jobs he or she was hired to do. If they are spending time taking care of these things, who is doing what they were hired to do? Outsourcing allows you to retain employees for their highest and best use, rather than wasting their time on things that may take them longer than someone who is trained in these specific areas.
  5. Resources are not available internally. On the flip side, maybe you don’t have anyone in your company who can manage your IT needs, and hiring a new employee is not in the budget. Outsourcing can be a feasible alternative, both for the interim and for the long-term.
  6. Maximize restructuring benefits. When you are restructuring your company to improve costs, quality, service, or speed, your non-core business functions may get pushed aside. They still need to be handled, however, and outsourcing is an optimal way to do this. Don’t sabotage your restructuring efforts by failing to keep up with non-core needs.
  7. Function difficult to manage or out of control. This is definitely a scenario when outsourcing to experts can make a big difference. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you can forget about the problem now that it’s being “handled.” You still need to be involved even after control is regained.
  8. Make capital funds available. By outsourcing non-core business functions, you can spend your capital funds on items that are directly related to your product or your customers.
  9. Reduce Risk. Keeping up with technology required to run your business is expensive and time consuming. Because professional outsourced IT providers work with multiple clients and need to keep up on industry best practices, they typically know what is right and what is not. This kind of knowledge and experience dramatically reduces your risk of implementing a costly wrong decision.

For a comprehensive range of helpful documents and templates go to :http://www.consultingcloud.org/outsourcing_IT

What is an Information Technology Charter? (IT Charter)


A charter is a document that is developed in a group setting to clarify team direction while establishing boundaries. It is developed early during the forming of the team. The charter should be developed in a group session to encourage understanding and buy-in. Consulting Cloud has developed IT Charters for specific IT functions within a typical organization. Read More….
The team charter has two purposes. First, it serves as a source for the team members to illustrate the focus and direction of the team. Second, it educates others (for example, the organizational leaders and other work groups), illustrating the direction of the team. Investing the required time to develop a charter reduces confusion about the group’s objectives.

Consulting Cloud provides sample charters for functions within an IT department or organization. The samples that can be found on this web site cover Managed Services, Technical Services (Outsourcing), Infrastructure Services and Shared Services. These are real life documents that have been successfully implemented in several large organizations.

The contents of the charters varies but they include team purpose, required commitment, scope, members, desired end result (outcome required) and deliverables.

For examples of IT Charters got to: http://www.consultingcloud.org/IT_charter

What is an Business Continuity Plan? (BCP)


A Business Continuity Plan BCP documents the organization’s exposure to internal and external threats.

It also provides a plan for total business recovery should a catastrophic event occur to your business.

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) methodology is used to produce a plan that will enable an organization to continue to function in the face of some kind of interruption to its normal operation. The plan needs to be scalable for an organization of any size and complexity.

The development of a Business Continuity Plan can be a complex and daunting task for any organization. The documents provided on the Consulting Cloud website are actual documents in use by many businesses worldwide. By starting with a Business Continuity Plan sample document, the task can be expedited to ensure that the business can recover from a high impact event in a structured way. We have found that it is better to start with an existing template to prompt the questions that need to be asked and to assist if defining the best and most effective process for your organization.

There are usually 9 steps to developing an effective Business Continuity Plan. These are:

– Commence a program of works. This includes gaining commitment, awareness and setting up a program
– Develop a Risk assessment program
– Business Impact Analysis
– Definition of response strategies
– Developing resource and interdependency requirements
– Develop the Business Continuity Plan BCP
– Develop a communications strategy
– Training, maintaining and testing
– Activation

Testing your Business Continuity Plan :

Key strategies for testing include starting simple; raising the bar in terms of difficulty; involving vendors and stakeholders in tests; making tests so difficult it is impossible to succeed; and launching surprise tests. When launching a testing exercise program, start with plan reviews and tabletops. This will help staff get comfortable with the testing process. As they improve, increase the level of test complexity. Remember that if a test “fails” it is not a failure; rather, it is a success. It is far better to identify systems and procedures that may fail, and rectify them, before a real incident occurs. Finally, a true test is to launch a surprise incident. This will truly test how well prepared the company is to address a real incident.
The primary reason for testing is to identify deficiencies in Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans. Ideally, successful tests uncover and document problems. Tests that appear to be “successful” and uncover no problem should be suspect. Finally, tests present opportunities to fix problems before a disaster happens.

A Business Continuity Plan is essential for any business. It is however usually one of the lowest priority items that most businesses attend to. A significant amount of time and money can be saved by downloading sample documents from the Consulting Cloud website (see below).

It is critical with any Business Continuity Plan that the impact analysis is performed first and agreed across the business. This will allow prioritization of restoration of services should a disaster occur.

Samples of BCPs and associated documents can be found below:

Business Continuity Plans
Disaster Recovery Plan
Assessing organization risk
Creating a business risk profile
Developing a company wide communications plan
Comprehensive guide for managing projects
Test plan templates for projects

What is an Information Technology Audit ? (IT Audit)


The primary functions of an IT audit are to evaluate the systems that are in place to guard an organization’s information. Specifically, information technology audits are used to evaluate the organization’s ability to protect its information assets and to properly dispense information to authorized parties.

The IT audit aims to evaluate the following:
– Will the organization’s computer systems be available for the business at all times when required? (known as availability)
– Will the information in the systems be disclosed only to authorized users? (known as security and confidentiality)
– Will the information provided by the system always be accurate, reliable, and timely? (measures the integrity)
– In this way, the audit hopes to assess the risk to the company’s valuable asset (its information) and establish methods of minimizing those risks.

Also Known As: Information Systems Audit, ADP audits, EDP audits, computer audits

Examples of IT Audits can be found at http://www.consultingcloud.org/IT_audit

Cloud computing and shared ICT in the public sector – Case Studies


case-studies-sample

This presentation is a bit dated (2013), but it could still be useful to many people. It covers case studies of cloud computing and ICT Shared Services strategies across several international public sector entities.

Download for free (27 slides)

 

What is an IT Charter and what is it used for?


moving-in-one-directionIT Charter Definition: “an official agreement that provides guidelines and rules for something”

A charter is a document that is developed in a group setting to clarify team direction while establishing boundaries. It is developed early during the forming of the team. The charter should be developed in a group session to encourage understanding and buy-in.

The team charter has two purposes. First, it serves as a source for the team members to illustrate the focus and direction of the team. Second, it educates others (for example, the organizational leaders and other work groups), illustrating the direction of the team. Investing the required time to develop a charter reduces confusion about the group’s objectives.

Follow the link to the Consulting Cloud website for some free examples.

As you will find, the contents of the charters varies but they include team purpose, required commitment, scope, members, desired end result (outcome required) and deliverables.

Can Shared Services really work?


rendered concept of a collaborative working systemCan Shared Services really work? Well, in my opinion, YES, provided that a number of key elements are in place to ensure that Shared Services is living up to its expectations and providing the results required.

Goals must be clearly defined

The most commonly cited reasons for implementing Shared Services is reducing costs and some early adopters were claiming 30% – 40% reductions. From my research however, improvement of service quality is rated as equal to cost reduction in the top 10 reasons for setting up Shared Services. Additional reasons identified were standardisation of business process and optimisation of working capital.

Other reasons included enabling business units to focus their efforts on core business activities and letting Shared Services deal with service related non-core activities and also to make it easier to restructure the business because of mergers, acquisitions or machinery of Government changes.

When establishing cost reduction goals it is important to recognise that the returns will be impacted by organisational size, the extent of consolidation, standardisation, re-engineering and the application of technology. Dramatic decreases in cost will be a function of all these factors. Some Consultants assert that Shared Services is only worthwhile in organisations with a turnover greater than $ 500m. I do believe that Shared Services can be cost-effective in much smaller organisations, but realistic financial goals must be established. The leverage from economies of scale and the impact of best practice processes and technological applications is directly proportional to the size of the enterprise. In smaller organisations the leverage is not as great and the resulting savings will be a smaller percentage of total service costs.

Shared Service needs to move beyond centralisation

When an organisation first implements Shared Services it can look like traditional centralisation. Services that have been managed at a local level, will now be managed at a corporate level, for instance. Sometimes, in the past this has meant reductions in service levels, leading to resentment on the part of line managers. Shared Services must quickly move beyond the simple consolidation of resources and reporting relationships or it will ultimately fail. Service Levels to clients must be improved immediately, and the client service needs must be recognised and met. This is difficult, since during the transition period to Shared Services, standards typically go down.

The Governance must be differentiated from the service delivery

In a centralised group corporate staff functions have always been faced with 2 sets of responsibilities. Firstly, the development of functional policies and standards and secondly, ensuring compliance with these whilst delivering the service to customers. This duality of roles creates conflict within the function, and frustrates line management clients who accuse the managers of being “corporate cops” and anything but service oriented suppliers. They also establish HR policies, and control organisational behaviour through delivery of their services.

In a Shared Services model, the staff functions must clearly differentiate the role they carry out on behalf of the Executive and the Board from delivery of services to customers. Assume for example that all services were outsourced. The corporation would set the policies and rules and appoint someone internally to be accountable for third party’s compliance. The external service provider would then deliver services to the organisation that are within the rules defined by their client. This is how Shared Services groups need to operate.

Service Levels Agreements, Service Catalogues and Service Agreements define the service relationship between supplier and customer, what services are delivered, under what conditions and for what price. A surprising number of Shared Services organisations operate with no formal agreements with internal customers (creating a potential environment for unhappy customers), even though clearly defined and simple Service Level Agreements are considered a key factor for Shared Services.

Service Level Agreements, Service Catalogues and Service Agreements help to minimise misunderstandings and ensure a solid footing for ongoing solid business/customer relationships. The SLA is negotiated between service providers and the customers.

Governance functions, which include policy development and compliance monitoring, are carried out on behalf of the Executive or stakeholder group. In many cases Service Level Agreements and Service Catalogues define that the services to be provided must be consistent with Governance direction or within the established rules of the organisation.

Shared Services must be led from the top

Shared Services is not a bottom-up strategy. It must be driven from the top of the organisation, and requires Executives to embrace enterprise-wide thinking as distinct from a focus on business unit or functional focus. Many business unit leaders have established strong functional groups within their organisations to provide high quality responsive services that are highly valued by the business unit. The consolidation of services requires these leaders to relinquish their autonomy and resources for the greater good of the whole organisational entity.

Inevitably, this usually generates a great deal of resistance at first, as the business units fear a reduction in services and service quality due to the loss of control and owned resources. It is extremely important that the leaders of the business units understand and accept the move to Shared Services and are visible and vocal in their support. In case studies of less than successful implementations, one of the key variables was those business unit executives were never on board with the strategy.

Strong leadership is essential in addressing and overcoming employee resistance. There will be many crises along the road to implementation and strong committed leadership is required to maintain the focus and the pursuit of success.

Recovering fully loaded costs is fundamental to success

There is no limit to the demand for free services. This applies to the services of internal service function just as much as any other service relationship. To develop a positive business relationship between Shared Services and its customers, service costs must be clearly understood and adhered to.

Pricing services and charging customers for services provided is a fundamental tool for establishing business-oriented Shared Services functions. There must be a direct relationship between services consumed and costs recovered. Whilst direct charging is the preferred strategy for activating this relationship, there are many organisations who are opposed to the internal transfer of funds and internal charging processes. Even without the actual transfer of funds through invoicing there must be a clear visible way to have customers jointly accountable for the cost of services they consume. This can occur through joint budgeting and joint budget approval and high visibility (transparency) of service costs.

The calculation of service costs is the basis for any direct or indirect charging or joint budgeting of service costs.

Summary

If any organisation is considering the feasibility of the Shared Services, it is important to recognise the scope of alternative approaches and to factor in all the variables that will contribute to success. A full-scale feasibility study is highly recommended not only as a vehicle for quantifying costs and benefits but as a way of involving internal service groups, customers and stakeholders in determining whether some sort of Shared Services is right for them.

This article has been posted by Tom Smyth a Consultant with over 40 years in the IT industry. Tom has worked in both Shared Services and Outsourcing for the past 20 years. If you need some assistance with the development of a Shared Services model, or if you are facing challenges with the way your current Shared Services organisation is functioning, Tom can be contacted at tom.smyth@consultingcloud.org

 

Don’t pay for “reinventing the wheel”


ReinventingthewheelFor many years the Consulting industry has enjoyed the luxury of charging (in many cases) very high rates for material and deliverables that have been recycled from other similar client engagements and modified to meet the requirements of the new client.

This allows Consulting organizations to continue to maximize margins using lower skilled resources to reuse (rather than create) materials that are required as deliverables and outputs as part of the project or engagement.

Whilst reuse is not possible in all cases, there is a wealth of information that is common to many assignments. This reusable information is usually “closely guarded” by Consulting organizations and so it is very difficult to obtain anywhere else apart from freelance professionals.

We strongly believe that there is a real need to provide an on-line service that delivers reusable templates, presentations, documents and tools to clients who do not wish to engage a Consulting firm to achieve a business objective or wish to reduce the costs of a Consulting engagement through the availability of key documents that can be tailored to your individual requirements.

The material found on this web site www.consultingcloud.org has been built up over many years of face-to-face Consulting by a select group of experienced freelance professionals.

We believe that, with the pervasiveness of the Internet, now is the time to use this technology to deliver quality and in-depth Consulting material on-line, with substantial time and cost savings to be gained by those who use the service.

This www.consultingcloud.org website has a comprehensive range of documents to assist businesses to fast track project implementation, improve processes and save money. The template categories cover a range of business and Information Technology functions and processes.

Categories covered include:

Technical Architecture – deals with the underlying technical solution components of an IT implementation. Specifically it tackles primarily the physical environment or hardware platform (computing, network, storage), but also the architectural components which sit over this solution, such as execution components (e.g. application server and database), operational components (e.g. backup and recovery, alerting, etc.), as well as the logical environment (i.e. development versus testing versus production environments and how they tie into the release strategy). There are ancillary components of this category which provide a more comprehensive technical solution, such as planning and estimating deliverables, standards, procedures, performance engineering, etc.

Business Continuity Plans – By implementing a Business Continuity Plan your business will increase its recovery capabilities dramatically. And that means you can make the right decisions quickly, cut downtime and minimise financial losses.

Data Migration Plans – A Data Migration Plan is the first step a business should take for planning any information migrations or conversion projects.

Disaster Recovery Plan Templates – outlines the steps to be taken to restore IT facilities in a controlled manner and in line with defined business application priorities. It is not a Business Continuity Plan since it only addresses the IT component of business applications. Business Continuity Plans are the responsibility of the relevant business units.

IT Charters – An IT Charter Definition: “an official agreement that provides guidelines and rules for something”. It is a document that is developed in a group setting to clarify team direction while establishing boundaries. It is developed early during the forming of the team. The charter should be developed in a group session to encourage understanding and buy-in.

IT Due Diligence Checklists for Outsourcing and Shared Services – A key element to IT due diligence success, is taking every step possible to understand your company’s objectives in acquiring a new company before you make an on-site visit. You also need to know if there are key assumptions pertaining to the company, specifically as they relate to the company’s technological capabilities or dependencies

IT Job Descriptions and Key Results Areas – Job descriptions and Key Results Area definition are key elements in the success of ant Information Technology function

IT Sales and Marketing – for IT vendors in particular it is critical that processes for Opportunity Management, Bids, Proposals, Customer Engagement are well known within your teams. It is also critical that sales incentive schemes are in place to ensure that your sales teams are rewarded in line woith the business objectives.

IT Strategic Plan Template – The purpose of an IT strategy is to present the ICT vision, document the structure and processes required to achieve that vision, define a program of work, systems and projects to support the achievement of the ICT vision over the next three or so years.

IT Governance – IT demand governance is the process by which organizations ensure the effective evaluation, selection, prioritization, and funding of competing IT investments; oversee their implementation; and extract (measurable) business benefits. IT demand governance is a business investment decision-making and oversight process, and it is a business management responsibility. IT supply-side governance is concerned with ensuring that the IT organization operates in an effective, efficient and compliant fashion, and it is primarily a CIO responsibility.

IT Transition Plans – When Transitioning your IT function to an Outsourcing Vendor or even if you are bringing the IT service back in house you will need to develop an IT Transition Plan covering Human Resources, Infrastructure, Service Delivery, Service Management, Finance, etc.

ITIL Templates – If you are implementing ITIL in your organization you will need a set of templates that are aligned to the ITIL functions

IT Outsourcing Contract Templates – An Outsourcing Contract outlines the legal and financial agreement between an IT Outsourcing vendor and the customer.

Performance Appraisals – Performing appraisals on your staff on a regular basis is a very healthy process to undertake. Having a good template to assist with the performance evaluation is very useful.

Project Management Templates – If you are undertaking an project then it is critical the the project documentation is in order. Having project templates readily available can save time and money.

Request for Proposal and Tender – RFT RFP templates can expedite the selection process.

Risk Management Plan Templateoutlines the foreseeable project risks and provides a set of actions to be taken to both prevent the risk from occurring and reduce the impact of the risk should it eventuate.

Service Catalog Template – when implementing ITIL it is important to have your services clearly documented and priced to ensure that customers are aware of the services they are purchasing.

Service Level Agreement Template – SLAs are critical to ensure that the service parameters are known by the customer.

ITIL V3 pdf free download


For a comprehensive range of ITIL sample documents and templates go to www.consultingcloud.org

ITIL Service DesignITIL Service ImprovementITIL Service OperationITIL Service StrategyITIL Service Transition

 

 

What happened to the professionalism in recruiting?


Resume pictureRecently some of my colleagues and friends have applied for positions using the big name online recruiting websites. Many of these job applications have been for senior IT positions. In many cases, after they put a lot of effort into preparing cover letters and professional resumes, they had no response what-so-ever from the recruitment agency that placed the online advertisement.

Is this common practice these days? If the candidate was not suitable for the position, then the agency could at least send a courtesy email stating the reasons why they were not considered for the position.

Has the professionalism disappeared from the recruitment business? Are these just isolated cases? Or am I just expecting too much in today’s world of online commoditisation?

Interested in your thoughts and experiences.

5 simple rules to ensure your project is successful


Blackboard

By following just a few basic common sense rules you can ensure your project has a better chance of success.

Rule No. 1  – Effective Customer communications – Maintain an effective relationship with the Customer through ongoing, frequent and positive communication. Whilst in the most difficult situations you should be firm with the Customer, it is essential to be sensitive to the Customer environment and to maintain a balanced approach to Customer related issues and politics. Involvement in the latter is to be avoided.  

Rule No. 2Keep your project team updated – Constantly talk to your project team. You should keep the project team informed of progress and provide opportunities for the team for two-way communication and for their issues to be listened to and dealt with.

Rule No. 3Highlight issues and promptly escalate if unresolved – Highlight problems and issues when they arise and escalate unresolved problems and issues to the appropriate people, e.g. the Customer, your Management and/or PMO. “Wave the red flag” as soon as a major issue arises that puts either the project or the company’s reputation at risk.

Rule No. 4Ask for help – Many organizations have the resources to assist with resolution of problems. Asking for help is not a signal of failure but a pro-active step to resolve a project, or commercial issue.

Rule No. 5Take responsibility for the quality of deliverables – Always follow basic project management principles and practices and implement appropriate quality processes, taking responsibility for the quality of deliverables and, where applicable, supporting any quality accreditation process. Respond positively to requests for information from senior management and the Project Management Office.

To find out more about how to make your project a success, please have a look at our Guide to Project Management or go to our website where you will find a comprehensive library of useful Project Management templates and sample documents.

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