This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows
Schiphol Telematics (ST) has provided telecom services such as tailored internet, voice, IPTV, and network services over its own network to businesses in and around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for more than 20 years. Critical airport functions reliant on ST’s services include a number of supporting processes, such as payment services, airport operations and baggage handling systems.
Despite having a robust customer base, ST is a relatively small company, with only about 95 full-time employees and 15 contractors. Thus, it is constantly managing its costs and employee footprint to maintain maximum business flexibility and agility. As one aspect of this strategy, it relies on managed services providers for all of its IT operations, including the Microsoft business applications its employees use.
In 2012, ST selected Avanade as the managed services provider for its Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Microsoft SharePoint, and reporting services for its Microsoft SQL Servers.
“We chose Avanade based on capabilities and price,” explains Edwin Meijer, a member of ST’s management team. “Avanade has the skills, resources and technology we need to provide superior service to our customers.”
ST’s migration to Avanade Application Managed Services took only two months, which helped ST maintain business continuity. A foundation of the company’s partnership with Avanade is that two Avanade employees work onsite in ST offices, which allows them to work and interact directly with customers and internal ST users to understand and implement requested functional changes. In addition, Avanade and ST have bi-weekly meetings to discuss operational issues. There are further meetings every two or three months to talk about strategic and tactical matters.
Avanade’s impact has been most evident in improving ST’s ability to manage functional change requests through the skills and experience Avanade brings to the table. With Avanade supporting it, ST can make changes faster and complete more requested changes than it could with its previous managed services provider, thereby driving higher employee productivity. This enables ST to focus on its core business and better respond to its customers’ needs.
Importantly, ST has found Avanade to be well-informed on the latest Microsoft software and development plans.
“Avanade was more flexible than our previous supplier and capable of implementing functional changes more quickly,” says Meijer. “We were particularly impressed with how Avanade planned to handle the business and keep in constant touch with our internal users.”
Today, Meijer said that his company has been able to better focus on its core business with Avanade supporting it and achieve productivity gains while keeping its managed services provider-related costs to a minimum.
With Avanade’s expertise in application lifecycle management, ST has improved its ability to take on and handle change requests, driving higher employee productivity and helping it achieve more value from its relationship with Avanade.
“With Avanade, we can make any requested functional changes four times faster than before,” says Meijer. “At any time we might have just 50 requests outstanding, whereas before with our previous supplier, we typically had 200 or more requests waiting to be addressed.”
This reduced change request pipeline means that employees get access to improved functionality earlier, thereby improving their productivity as they leverage improvements to applications they use every day to do their jobs better. Avanade’s skills and expertise in application management are also enabling ST to roll out ‘hot fixes’ for more significant issues with applications.
As an example, Meijer cited an instance when a significant operational change arose from a request to improve communication between ST and its customers. After implementation, ST realised that it still needed to make a major change to ensure full functionality of the change, which would take months. However, Avanade helped ST implement a hot fix that brought significant additional functionality to the teams impacted by the operational change three months earlier than expected.
IDC calculates that ST is achieving benefits of €2.53 million per year with Avanade compared with its previous managed services provider over the projected five-year period by not needing internal IT staff, driving productivity through improved changed management and reducing costs. This results in a five-year return on investment of 142% and a payback period of 6.4 months.
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