Leading Managed Services to a Client Advantage: An Interview with Vince Blockley, Part 1

This is the first in a two-part series of interviews with Vince Blockley, Director – EMEA, 1218 Global. The series provides insight into Managed Services support, details the key Client benefits of a structured Managed Services Program, and identifies how consultancies such as 1218 Global can help reduce Client pain points, shorten IT response times, and improve issue resolution.

Over the last 20 years, Vince has managed and directed major PeopleSoft installations and upgrades. These projects included a broad range of business processes and diverse PeopleSoft solutions with scope as complex and far-reaching as a global PeopleSoft Financials rollout across 230 business units with 147 currencies. Vince was directly responsible for building a Managed Services offering for Crocus Consulting and introduced options to provide a fully hosted solution.

Vince’s reputation as a leading technologist attracts Clients and experienced consultants to 1218 Global. He is responsible for expanding Managed Services offerings in the UK, the US, and India. As Director, Vince provides high-end technology support to Client projects and leads an expert team of professionals to provide the award-winning service and performance that 1218 Global delivers, meeting the growing demand for Managed Services and Applications worldwide.

Most recently, Vince has built a new Salesforce division, which also offers Managed Services for products on the Force.com platform.

How would you describe Managed Services and what benefits does Managed Services provide to a Client?

At 1218 Global, we call Managed Services “Managed Services as a Service” which means that we offer our Clients a flexible agreement, where they can add and remove services as they require, rather than tying them into rigid multi-year commitments. 1218 Global prides itself on building a strong team and offering clients the right resources, at the right price, and at the right time to deal with Client incidents, delivering within the Service Level Agreement. We tell our Clients, “We will take away your pain”.

All companies deal with IT problems that are difficult to fix, where the right resources and skill sets are not always available, issues happen out of normal working hours, and they can hit at the busiest times. This can be a painful experience for the IT teams and users alike. 1218 Global takes ownership and responsibility for these problems and delivers the right solutions. We make our Clients’ lives easier. This accurate and honest positioning often leads to other opportunities for 1218 Global services within the Client’s organization. We have exceptionally strong expertise with PeopleSoft and our Client offerings have now expanded into Salesforce as well, offering the same flexibility in services.

One area that a Client might be interested in is Security. If they have a convoluted process to create and provision new user accounts or decommission accounts, for example, we can handle that. We can relieve the Client of that whole process and take ownership of it with automation, audit, housekeeping, and general maintenance. Another service is looking after a Client’s database. That could include verifying that the Client’s back-office processes are performing well, configuring and tuning the database, and making sure the database is performing correctly. We also provide standard reports on usage over time and identify growth rates which contribute to the Client’s capacity planning activities. All of these fall under database support.

For many of our Clients, we also provide applications support. The Client could have HR, Payroll, Finance and CRM solutions, and Front, Middle, and Back Office, on-premise, hosted or in the cloud. We provide services that support one or all of these elements. Anything that is part of a solution architecture or infrastructure, 1218 Global can support.

What attracts Clients to these services?

It is really a number of things. Cost is a major factor. The Client can look at the cost of employing a number of resources to cover the skills required to support their systems and software. For example, if the Client needs a team of eight in-house people to cover all of their IT requirements including multiple shifts and holidays, they can move those requirements to a 1218 Global service. We can absorb all of that within our team and do it at a lower cost. This saves the Client the redundancy of people and the continuous cost overhead, even when things are running smoothly. We can replace that entire team, provide those services, cover those requirements 24/7, and we guarantee that service within the SLA.

Managed Services relies on metrics and service agreements. How do you measure Client satisfaction?

Key Performance Indicators are critical. The main KPI that we work toward is the Service Level Agreement. We offer three SLA’s: Premium, Standard, and Budget. For severity one issues, the Premium SLA secures a response to our Client within thirty minutes and a solution to the problem within one hour. With the Standard SLA, we will respond within one hour and have a solution within two hours. With the Budget SLA, the response is within four hours and a solution is provided within a day. So, SLA’s determine how quickly we need to respond, how quickly we find a solution, and how quickly we fix the problem. Meeting those targets is our primary focus and is the basis for our success.

Because we work very hard to ensure that problems are assigned to the right team members within our 1218 Global resources, we rarely breach those requirements. We pull in as much expertise as is necessary to find solutions and resolve issues quickly. If we were to breach SLA, we thoroughly review what happened and why, and then we make adjustments where necessary. Being proactive in identifying issues before they become problems is our best defense against an SLA failure.

There are actually four levels of response: the initial response, cause identified, solution agreed, and the fix. With the initial response, our helpdesk will pick up the problem and refer it to a suitable 1218 Global expert or group of experts depending upon whether it’s an infrastructure, architecture, database, or application issue. Then, we will determine a solution, get client agreement for the solution, and then deliver it into the system. It is a deeply supported, highly effective process that we believe is second to none in the industry.

If you would like to get in touch with Vince, send him an email at vince.blockley@1218global.com

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