In this new advice series, we'll feature case studies from consultants who have worked with clients to overcome specific IT challenges. How did they help solve problems? What questions did they need the client to answer about their IT infrastructure services? What advice did they offer?
In this first installment, learn how IT consulting firm GlassHouse Technologies Inc. worked with a client that needed help preparing for a separation from its parent company. Find out how GlassHouse guided the client through the spinoff and helped rebuild its IT infrastructure services.
PROBLEM: A few smaller divisions of a much larger company were told to prepare themselves to be "sold off" and given a timeline of one year to get everything they needed in order. "New Division," as we will refer to the smaller company, was facing a high-risk problem and needed a strategy to maintain functionality and quickly roll out its new identity.
For years, these divisions had relied on corporate IT infrastructure services from the parent company for all its local and global IT requirements. From email and Internet access to server and storage offerings, all decisions were handed to them from above. Faced with going out on their own for all their IT requirements, they needed to very quickly identify, plan and execute a complete IT separation plan from the parent company. Building an IT organization from scratch is a very exciting opportunity, but it was also a daunting one with high risk.
SOLUTION: In steps, GlassHouse engaged these smaller divisions in a project to help them separate from corporate and prepare themselves to support their own IT needs moving forward. GlassHouse set up a program with New Division to identify its needs, design solutions that matched its requirements and provide a detailed plan to execute in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Discovery and design phase
The first issue at hand for New Division was to identify all of its existing IT infrastructure services. Not an easy task when faced with such a tight deadline and the fact that the New Division's IT skill set was predominately on the application side of the house. The task was to identify not only its own application requirements but also any dependencies on the corporate IT services. To do this, GlassHouse delivered a two-day facilitated workshop session. During this session, GlassHouse subject-matter experts worked with key stakeholders to establish an understanding of their applications and services used to support the business. The facilitated sessions are part of GlassHouse's Accelerate offerings, which provide a foundation for all members of an organization to voice their opinions and concerns in an open forum.
The next step in the process was the design; GlassHouse and its subject-matter experts delivered another facilitated workshop session with the key stakeholders. During design sessions, the team decided "what" it was going to build. Most design sessions are interesting. This design session was even more exciting for the members of this team -- we were building not only a new IT infrastructure, but also new IT processes and procedures for a complete IT organization.
New Division's existing IT group needed to build everything from scratch: networks, servers, desktops, backup, monitoring, storage, etc. Identifying these needs and working to build a new world is exactly what a facilitated workshop allows companies to complete. With all the key players in the same room, working together, shaping their visions into one universal direction, each had the ability to have an impact on "what" their new world would look like.
Often, the most overlooked portion of a project is the planning phase, yet some would argue that it's the most critical to the overall success of the project. During the planning phase of an Accelerate offering, the teams detail every task necessary to deploy their newly defined solution. It's critical to understand "what" and "who" will be needed to complete the tasks identified during the session. The outcome of the planning phase is ultimately a project schedule identifying the resources, roles and effort needed to execute the plan.
This plan went far beyond the need to deploy a new piece of infrastructure or a new solution into an environment. It needed to encompass building out an entire IT organization from the bottom up. The outcome from the Accelerate planning phase achieved just that. With this plan in hand, New Division was able to express and justify all of its needs for the new IT organization. It could say with confidence what skill sets were required or were missing from the core team, who was needed, when they would be needed and how long it would take to execute the plan to successfully separate from the parent company.
Following the framework outlined by an Accelerate offering, GlassHouse was able to work with the organization to create, design and deliver a plan for New Division within a 10-week window. During this time frame, the teams diligently worked together as one team to deliver what was needed.
Developing an infrastructure in a fast time frame allowed New Division to minimize its risk while continuing to conduct day-to-day operations. GlassHouse was able to trim a process that typically takes a long time down to 10 weeks, saving time and additional resources for the client.
Armed with the knowledge gained from the Accelerate process, the New Division team members are able to engage vendors and solution providers requesting the IT infrastructure services they require. They also have a roadmap detailing every step necessary to be successful with the separation, from the resources they need to acquire, to the infrastructure they need to procure. Had New Division decided to create this infrastructure on its own, the process could have taken anywhere from four to six months. Saved time and resources was the ROI for New Division, as cost was a nonissue and the organization was more concerned with the speed and efficiency in which the IT infrastructure services were launched. New Division is now ready to move forward with confidence.
This column was contributed by consultants from Glasshouse Technologies, an IT services and consulting firm in Framingham, Mass.