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Contributed by itSMF

D&CC is one of the few police forces that have outsourced the provision of ICT services. Re-tendering of the managed services contract in 2005 provided a unique opportunity to integrate ITIL principles and processes within the services contract.

At a glance

Devon & Cornwall Constabulary is one of the few police forces that have outsourced the provision of ICT services. This project is about the re-tendering of the managed services contract in 2005.

This project focuses on the contract re-negotiation for an outsourcer provider to support D&CC’s 127 service levels, 40 of which were key performance indicators (KPIs), and how to agree on contract costs being reduced year on year.

As the Information Systems Strategy for the Police Service (ISS4PS) had identified ITIL as being the service management standard to adopt, it made it easier for D&CC to build ITIL into their contract renewal process.

Devon & Cornwall Constabulary (D&CC) covers the largest geographical police area in England, extending 180 miles from the Dorset and Somerset borders in the east to the Isles of Scilly in the west. To give some impression of the scale of the area, the eastern boundary of the Force is actually nearer to London than the furthest western extremity.

As well as IT, D&CC’s support service is responsible for the Force Telephony Network and most recently, the Airwave Tetra radio network. There are more than 6,000 users, 5,000 desktops and laptops, 5,000 airwave radio terminals, 10,000 phone desk extensions and mobiles and 200 applications supported.

IT service support has been outsourced since 1993. At the time there was strong political pressure to outsource and 'we jumped before we were pushed'. The first supplier was McDonnell Douglas subsequently renamed Northgate Information Solutions.

The hallmark of the previous outsourcing contracts has been that there were primarily resource-based, with few metrics and SLAs involved. The contract was renewed for three years with Northgate after an open tender for procurement in 2001, but when the contract came up for replacement again in 2004, D&CC used it as an opportunity for a major change.

This was in part prompted by a presentation that Aidan Lawes, the then CEO of the itSMF, gave on ITIL for Devon and Cornwall ICT staff. This helped D&CC's ICT service management team not only to understand and see the significance of ITIL, but that the police force could no longer work to a short-term plan.

After taking the ITIL Foundation courses, D&CC did a gap analysis based on what it had learned, and decided to build ITIL into the contract renewal processes. The case was helped by the Information Systems Strategy for the Police Service (ISS4PS), which is the second attempt to define the ICT architecture and services standards that should be used for police systems. It has identified ITIL as being the service management standard to adopt, and has therefore generated interest and support within the Police service.

Paul Lea, head of ICT service management, D&CC was able to convince the project board that the organisation should embed ITIL standards within the requirement. There was no formal business case to do so but the cause was helped by the ISS4PS endorsement.

"The focus of the contract re-negotiation, therefore, became how well we could develop ITIL processes and work with a partner who would develop at the same rate, so that we transformed our support offering," said Lea.

The stakes in terms of what D&CC planned to do increased in 2004 with the decision to extend the scope of outsourcing to the support of telephony and more recently Airwave radio services.

Lea said the project team initially struggled with describing the services it needed, so adopted the Society of Information Technology Management (SOCTIM) model of service descriptions and went to the market place saying: ‘there is no easy way to describe the total scope of our services, but if you can understand this model then this is what we want’.

With more to support, the importance of getting the right contract in place in 2005 became much greater.

The following principles were instilled at the beginning of the tender and reiterated ever since. Reliability and availability of service are our primary objectives and ITIL is the basis for services being available and reliable.

D&CC was looking for responsiveness and flexibility from the supplier, as well as a strong cultural fit.

Price predictability was a key requirement. "If we changed the quality /quantity of services, we wanted to know how the price is going to change, and we needed proof of value for money by benchmarking our services for the life of the contract," said Lea.

"Customer satisfaction and security were also of prime importance to us, he continued. "We were very keen on being able to verify that support for a complex range of systems and services were being delivered effectively. Around 127 services levels were to be reported on, with 40 of these being key performance indicators (KPIs). For the majority of these areas, ITIL elements could be brought in, principally with regards to change and release management and meeting our quality objectives.

The police force also put into the tender that failure to meet KPIs would generate service credits, while major failure to consistently meet KPIs in a big way would potentially trigger contract termination.

"When we first went to the market in 2004, no one organisation had successfully fully embedded ITIL principles, so we built into the tender document the requirement for both ourselves and the supplier to embed principles as one origination instead of two," Lea explained.

Police forces are often impacted by the government changing priorities on service quality, so if the Home Office wanted to implement a change in any given time frame, it was important for D&CC to work with a supplier that could adapt to this change.

Among those suppliers that responded some said ‘do it our way’.

Sungard Vivista (SGV) responded and confirmed that they understood the ITIL principles and would commit to doing it the D&CC way unequivocally. SGV acknowledged that if the service requirement stayed the same, contract charges would be reduced year-on-year, so the only way to reduce costs year-on-year would be to implement ITIL. Therefore, at the end of a lengthy, complex tendering process, the contract was awarded to SGV for a period of seven years, plus optional one-year extensions to a maximum of 10 years.

"When we changed contracts, 80 Northgate staff were transferred to the new outsourcing contract through Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE), as well as nine D&CC posts. All these staff had been working under the old Northgate Managed Services contract. We made time to encourage them into the new culture, as this is a different contract with a different way of doing things," Lea said.

The ITIL development was central to the success of the new contract. SGV gave workshops to a representative cross-section of D&CC and SGV personnel, who have a vested interest in the function. The sessions covered the business and process improvements that ITIL can bring and the way to progress ITIL in the function.

"The key element was to win the hearts and minds of everyone involved so they became ITIL minded in their thinking. They had previously been sent on the Foundation Course to see why ITIL works. The hard work came after they returned and set about applying what they had learned" Lea continued.

"ITIL has also been important because it is a fresh approach for us and helped us move away from our old culture of doing things. Users were also in need of re-education and we worked hard to teach them why things are different now, such as pointing out that with a visible service catalogue and service level agreements (SLAs), they can be reassured that if they report an incident, there is a process is in place to deal with it."

In terms of backing, the director of finance and administration and members of the Police Authority D&CC were on the project board. Everyone was supportive of the approach that the project took and embracing of ITIL in the contract.

Conclusions

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in demand for services, with 100% more contacts, and 50% more incidents to the customer service centre, caused in part by the expansion of services.

Despite this, the appointment of SGV and the subsequent changes brought about by adhering to ITIL have seen D&CC realise dramatic improvements. The first call fix rate is 70% and rising, while customer satisfaction exceeds 99% or better month on month.

The appointment of managers dedicated to change and problem management means employees have a much better understanding of the issues that are impacting the ICT team. This has led to a massive reduction in the number of unauthorised changes, while improvements in change, capacity and configuration have resulted in quicker identification of incident root cause and the restoration of service. A major incident management policy gives reassurance to the business that the ICT team has learnt from past mistakes.

Paul Lea on user groups for ITIL

My view of itSMF’s User Group for ITIL is that it has allowed us to tap into others’ experience and the advice you receive gives you the confidence that you are doing is the right way of going forward. For example, we attended a public sector special interest group in May 2006 where there were two excellent presentations on outsourcing in the Public Sector. Speaking with the presenters we felt confident that we’re not out on a limb, and were in fact attacking the issues and difficulties in similar way and going down the right road.

We have learnt much from this project, primarily that management and organisational buy-in to service management standards is crucial. Getting ICT staff through the Red Badge course is key, as is engagement of an ITIL implementation expert. If you do not have a properly resourced and agreed implementation plan, or if you don’t have the right tools, you will struggle. Marketing of ITIL - both to your own staff and customers and users is a never-ending task, and it will all take time.

Monthly reports on the KPIs also keep the team on track. If the reports reveal too many KPI failures then Sungard provide service credits. As it currently stands, targets are being achieved. Overall, the ICT team is much better able to describe the services that are going to be supplied to force users and demonstrate they are being delivered effectively. The new contract is also saving D&CC significant sums over the old contract.

The ITIL implementation project runs to 2007 and will include all the ITIL modules.

Adds Lea: "If we’re in a position to do so we’ll initiate a project to try to gain ISO/IEC 20000, although there are not a lot of Police Forces doing this. Going through the pain that winning accreditation would entail is, however, a measurable way of demonstrating premium service quality. There will be clear benefits if we get certification stating that we have put best practice into place. We have faith in what we’re doing and believe we have the potential to achieve certification."

Article supplied by IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), an independent organisation focused on the on-going development and promotion of IT Service Management best practice, standards and qualifications. itSMF conducts forums for its 14,000 UK members, as well as regional meetings, special interest groups and annual conferences. Formed in the UK in 1991 there are now itSMF official chapters in 40 countries.