Mainframe Outsourcing Misconception #6: Outsourcing will Not Improve our Service Levels Beyond What We Could Achieve Ourselves

Another common fear that planners admit to having about mainframe outsourcing is that the arrangement may be based on unrealistic service level expectations.  In fact, service levels are metrics keyed to a complex set of factors.  When personnel, applications and infrastructure are all inside the business, the availability, accuracy and throughput of systems may seem to be under direct control of management.  Truth be told, however, service levels are imperfect tools.  Productivity can, of course, be impaired by infrastructure issues and downtime, but it is more likely the case that business processes and application issues are behind service level shortfalls.

When you outsource mainframe infrastructure to a qualified vendor, the service provider’s expertise should mitigate most infrastructure and IT operations-related impediments to achieving desired service levels, but this won’t fix business process inefficiencies or business application software foibles.  The near elimination of infrastructure problems should result in a net gain in productivity, but it won’t enable you to achieve off-the-charts improvements in overall business process efficiency.

In many cases, the seeds of failed outsourcing arrangements are sewn at the time that contracts are formulated.  Some vendors will promise to achieve virtually any service level sought by a client just to get the deal.  Those are the vendors you need to avoid.  A realistic set of service levels covering service availability, security and consistency are important, just as avoiding unrealistic expectations that could never be achieved whether the IT infrastructure was outsourced or not.

Posted by Adrian