“THOU SHALT NOT OUTSOURCE THAT WHICH IS NOT UNDER CONTROL”
When it comes to outsourcing, IT director Berrie Vlietstra of Delta Lloyd,the financial service provider, is very clear: don’t do it if your company’s not ready for it. And above all have the courage to be honest about that. His own organisation, for example, is already far advanced, but in his view not yet far enough. And he knows what he’s talking about, because Delta Lloyd had already outsourced services more than 10 years ago.
The process was then reversed. Now Berrie is working with Fruition Partners on what he calls ‘Management 3.0’. An IT organisation that is fast, flexibleand agile. Ready for the cloud. This time for real.
Berrie talks in a strikingly clear and realistic way about IT and his organisation. And not without reason. “Self-knowledge and modesty are essential starting points for success,” he begins. “Around the turn of the century we had to contend with three merged organisations, each with its own, efficient IT environment. We wanted to standardise and consolidate those environments rapidly. But it was progressing too slowly for the business, so it was decided to outsource. We could cope with that, we thought. But after five years we had to be honest: it wasn’t working. We weren’t ready for it yet. The plug was pulled.”
“Since we took it back in house in 2009 we’ve begun to integrate, consolidate and modernise everything ourselves. That’s brought us a lot of benefits. Of the 1,600 applications, for example, only 600 remain and our IT costs have fallen by 40 per cent. We’re not there yet, but the low-hanging fruit has been picked. In the meantime, outsourcing itself has continued to evolve into what we now call the cloud. And of course here too we know that’s where the future lies. It’s much more mature than it was then. But we don’t want to fall into the same trap. So we asked ourselves this question: ‘Are we actually ready for it now?’ And despite the major strides we’ve taken, the honest answer was: ‘No, not yet!’”
FIRST YOU NEED A VISION
“We were in the middle of an RfP process to replace our ITSM solution, but we put that process on hold. You shouldn’t replace any tools if you don’t have any context yet. First you need a vision! We called in the two parties that were still in the RfP process to explain why we had put it on hold. Eugène Wolf (Fruition Partners, ed.) represented one of those two parties. Shortly after he left, he got on the phone. He’d been triggered and understood exactly what I meant. We clicked, including personally. Instead of replacing our ITSM solution, we’re now working closely with Fruition Partners on something much bigger at Delta Lloyd: we’ve called it ‘Management 3.0’.”
IT4IT REFERENCE MODEL
“Fruition Partners’ IT-Guardian best-practice model is an attractive way of implementing ServiceNow on a turnkey basis. But I wanted to go further and now we’re working together to take IT-Guardian to the next level. A best-practice solution that includes not only incident, problem, change and configuration management, but also all other IT processes, in accordance with the IT4IT reference model from Open Group, on which Fruition Partners itself is collaborating: strategy to portfolio, requirement to deploy, request to fulfil and detect to correct. I want to have that operational here at Delta Lloyd. Fruition Partners will then have a turnkey best-practice model for the entire IT operation. That’s really valuable.”
CONFORMING TO THE STANDARD
“That brings me to a sensitive point which many CIOs stumble over. If you want to be really fast, agile and flexible with your IT organisation, you must conform to the choices made by the vendor, out of a conviction that they apply the best practices. I mean, Fruition Partners has already devoted 15 years purely to streamlining IT departments in countless organisations. So why would I doubt their experience? Or their tool settings? But anyway, you must stand firm and be able to convince the business that the required speed and flexibility come at a price: conforming to the standard. That will also save you a lot of money.”
“We’ve greatly simplified things here already, as I said earlier. After insourcing we completely decoupled the place where IT is made from the place where it’s consumed. Which device you use at the front end is no longer important. You use a generic infrastructure to contact the servers in the data centre to access applications and data. Nothing has to be kept on the devices now. We’ve concentrated all the complexity in the back office and simplified the working environment for the employee. Then it’s no longer relevant whether it comes from our own datacentre or from a cloud solution. It’s available, that’s what matters. And that makes it easier for us to fulfil the broker function. Where is it best for us to host? Who offers the best value for money this month?”
“When will we be ready? The honest answer: probably never. Of course, there’s a target, as I outlined, but before we reach it there’ll be a new or additional target. So let’s focus on the journey and the direction. We’re headed for an IT utopia. And we’re getting ever closer, but we also realise that ultimately we’ll never get there. And that doesn’t matter. It’s a great journey, with Fruition Partners we have a good travelling companion and we’re making fantastic discoveries that will greatly benefit our two organisations,” Berrie Vlietstra concludes.