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Avanta CIO: Rolling annual contract with Civica 'makes us partners'

Anh Nguyen | Jan. 30, 2014
The CIO of Avanta, the welfare to work and training provider, has said that its one-year rolling contract with IT outsourcer Civica ensures that they work together as partners.

The CIO of Avanta, the welfare to work and training provider, has said that its one-year rolling contract with IT outsourcer Civica ensures that they work together as partners.

Avanta, which is three years into a five-year contract to operate the government's £5 billion Welfare to Work programme to get jobless people back into work, has outsourced all its IT, from infrastructure to service desk, to Civica. It awarded Civica the £1 million-a-year contract for the IT services in 2011.

The rolling contract "is so powerful," Jon Quick, CIO of Avanta told ComputerworldUK at the Civica Annual Conference in Manchester.

"It gives me the right to turn round and say 'if you don't work with me as a partner, I can go somewhere else'. What's been very surprising is that it has worked very well."

According to Quick, Avanta's IT "wasn't in a good state" three years ago.

"The Work Programme was coming up and there was a significant risk we couldn't deliver the IT part," he said.

"I decided the only way to do it was outsource all the infrastructure, hosting, networks and service desk. They were all semi in-house in multiple locations. Hosting was outsourced minimally."

Quick wanted an IT outsourcing contract that reflected the dynamism of Avanta, and gave the company the flexibility to scale the capacity up or down.

"As a business, we're very dynamic in size. When we started the Work Programme, we had 1,000 people in 100 branches. In a year, we were down to 500 staff and 40 branches. What I didn't want was a long-term contract where the costs were static," he said.

Instead, with Civica, Quick has fixed costs (data centre and hosting) and variable costs, where he pays per branch, per user.

"I've got controlled costs," he said.

Quick said that the way he works with Civica is "quite flexible" compared with other providers.

"We have a service catalogue that describes all the services that Civica provides. That is a working document, changed every year. I have a provision in the contract that says if it doesn't meet the fundamental KPIs, we have the right to change any of the services. That flexibility is quite unusual for managed service providers," he said.

This means that when Avanta adds new sites or businesses, it has "tremendous" agility to provide IT into those areas rapidly.

According to Quick, the initial focus of the Civica contract was to migrate from "a really bad place" to business as usual. This meant that the first year involved moving and cleaning all the applications and infrastructure to get it into a good state.

"The second year was nailing business as usual," said Quick. "Minimising the amount of activity, improving the resilience of the infrastructure and apps, and tuning the service provisions."

 

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