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Straight Talk on Project Management

Technical advisory services

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Understanding the value of a fresh pair of eyes… IT Technical Advisory Services

Need help with a large IT strategic decision? Need independent advice? Try Googling “IT Advisory”. Actually, don’t. You’d be wasting your time. It’s mostly job adverts for IT ‘advisers’ aka support staff or companies selling their products or managed services. It’s hard to know what to search for…

Also, many organisations may not understand the value of independent and vendor agnostic, external IT advisory service. Various factors affect this decision, either they don’t fully appreciate the value of something they haven’t needed or used before, haven’t had the time to consider or believe they have capacity and capability to carry out themselves.

Stoneseed’s Technical Advisory Services by way of elevator pitch, is a fresh pair of experienced eyes that looks at, over and into your IT Business goals. It’s an independent (but always client-side *) service that assesses your goals and capabilities and aligns them with your best possible outcomes and the best-in-class IT solutions of the day.  

(*) I asterisked the word client-side. I mentioned that your “IT Advisory” Google search will throw up companies selling managed services, if you take one golden piece of advice away from this blog on advisory services, make it this – always ask “Who benefits most from the advice – you or the vendor?”. It’s a piece of advice that will save you money and ensure that every penny you invest in the advice yields returns that are aligned with your goals.   

Stoneseed has, and always will be a “client-side” partner in your success. What matters to us in an advisory capacity is how to best achieve your goals and solve whatever IT challenge you have. We won’t sell you services, we will help you buy exactly the right solutions.  

When you don’t know what you don’t know or who to call – how do you start?

The journey that a client takes often looks like this: They go from not really knowing about; to engaging with; to exponentially benefitting from; to eulogising about Stoneseed’s Technical Advisory Services!

Usually, it’s a relationship that starts as a solution for a new challenge, or a need for a fresh perspective on a new or existing challenge but can very quickly become part of the DNA of their IT strategy.      

impactful.

This story, of a typical IT Advisory engagement, is illustrative of the value of that fresh pair of eyes approach. This client, like most clients, begin with a specific pain point or requirement such as a tender process, so the starting point was to engage with Stoneseed’s Technical Advisory Service to review and reassess their goals and needs.

It is also demonstrative of how unimaginably better outcomes can grow from engaging with an advisory service that fully has your back. That client-side approach is your guarantee that Stoneseed will always act with your objectives in mind.

The Engagement

The client was a mid-sized organisation with multiple branches/offices. They had an outsourced managed service contract for multiple areas of their IT, but because of poor service levels, they wanted to change provider.

So, the client was looking for a new provider but needed to retender and go through a vendor selection process. Simple enough, except, the IT department’s workload was, like yours probably is, loaded with work and it was a process the team involved had not undertaken before!

They had a Head of IT, but they were maxed out, the department was running at capacity, and they had no specific technical architecture expertise. Why would they? They’d never needed it!

Time was not on their side either. Their current contract exit/expiry deadlines were looming, they needed to act or find themselves locked into another term with the underperforming managed service provider. This was not acceptable, but nor was taking the head of IT or other senior resources away from crucial day to day activities.   

This is where Stoneseed came in. 

Phase One

The client engaged Stoneseed for some external, independent guidance on how to run the vendor selection and tender process whilst not impacting the wider operation. This is a Stoneseed speciality, the value of a fresh take on any part of the process can be immense, but at the stage when potentially ‘make or break’ decisions (like vendor selection) are being taken, an independent, baggage-free point of view can be vital.    

This original engagement then grew as the client benefitted from another Stoneseed specialism – we took a step back and forensically re-examined everything! Again, with that fresh-eyes perspective!

The Stoneseed approach with is designed to deliver the exact outcome required (with scope to improve!) and it is based on a thorough grasp of you and your business! The first crucial thing we will do, what Stoneseed has always done, is establish where you are in your journey.

Properly understanding your Business & IT objectives (and assessing how well aligned they are) is vital, and includes your current IT provision, and any current issues or constraints. Stoneseed’s tailored approach definitely creates a USP that clients tell us they appreciate – they feel our approach is customised for their exact need and their precise operating environment.

At this early stage we’ll also discuss your budget, as one CIO once said to me “it doesn’t matter how good you are, if it doesn’t work for the Finance Director, it doesn’t work at all!

This initial exploratory phase is part of a proven structured approach that led this client from appraisal and understanding of Business & IT objectives through to the definition of future IT Strategy (including future architecture and innovative tactical solutions) onto nailing the Service Management Framework.

And only then, armed with relevant intelligence, we moved to finally defining and executing the Tender Creation process, including those watertight SLAs and KPIs! Plus, as with all Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service portfolio, a healthy dose of governance!

Phase Two

The client then asked Stoneseed to come back and help embed the new services.

Again, as an independent overseer we could help with vendor alignment, governance, and adherence to technical, specifications, taking them through to a Mobilisation phase and through the entire project lifecycle. Attention to detail throughout this process ensured elements like Technical Governance would set boundaries and red lines; a crucial “Lessons Learnt” segment shone a light on compliance, any missed opportunities and ensured best practice. And lastly, we evolved a future organisational structure that would cope with this process next time, and the time after!

Following our proven methodology, leaving nothing to chance and yet retaining a sense of flexibility; structured and yet personalised; a best-in-class vibe and a within budget price tag.   

The client’s challenge is addressed in ways better than could be imagined by them going it alone, they save money and time, and reach a better outcome – all from getting great external advice.

The story always starts with a Tech Advisory Service – great external advice – but leads to so much more.

So, if you need a fresh set of eyes, find out more about our Advisory Services

NB: For those involved in Public Sector and/or Framework Tenders:  We are regularly engaged in Public Sector projects with councils, charities and universities and those organisations can and do work with us in many ways. Often, this involves working with procurement teams and HR departments directly, via Private procurement frameworks or through Government procurement frameworks such as those offered by the Crown Commercial Service.

We are currently listed as an approved supplier on the G-Cloud 12 & the new 13 framework under Specialist Cloud Services and on the DOS framework (Digital Outcomes & Specialists).
Read for about frameworks & Stoneseed