Project type: Cyber audit; IT review
With the chambers having doubled in size in five years and keen to keep operations tight and professional, we were invited in initially to review and advise on security and encryption measures. But it soon became clear that there were more systemic issues to be dealt with arising from the relationship with its outsourced IT Managed Services Provider (MSP).
- Due to organisational growth, a disconnect between what the chambers were expecting by way of service standards and what the MSP thought they were tasked to deliver had appeared
- A lack of structure, process and cooperation on both sides around support calls and implementation projects had started to creep in
- Concerns from Radcliffe about ensuring they were using best practice were being voiced.
Rather than just end a long-standing relationship and risk losing the knowledge and continuity along with the same problems reappearing in a new partnership, we undertook a ‘no blame’ review of the situation to better understand why things had started to deteriorate.
There were clearly frustrations on both sides with barristers expecting a two hour fix time, when in fact the MSP were offering a two hour response time; the MSP needing to access barristers’ local devices but being prevented from doing so; calls that didn’t get a first touch fix suffering extended resolution times.
There were some communication issues when support calls were raised by the office manager on behalf of a barrister and then communications not getting back to the person with the actual problem; service performance analytics often making no allowance for barristers’ availability and lack of response from them during this time. These are examples where daily stresses were having an attritional effect on confidence and morale on both sides.
Our advice to the chambers’ Chief Executive Fiona Fitzgerald was that actually this was a relationship worth working on: the MSP’s technical competency was good, they had the right attitudes and were willing to invest in the necessary remedial work. By the same token, Radcliffe Chambers also had to recognise its role in the relationship breakdown and come to the ‘mediation’ table with a view to making things work second time around.
We asked both sides to draw a line under what had gone before and re-engage as if this was a completely new relationship.
- Radcliffe Chambers analysing precise service requirements and SLAs for the first time
- The parties agreeing a two hour response time coupled with an estimated fix time
- The MSP adopting ITIL standards and running service desk management software
- The MSP reviewing open tickets on a daily basis with a weekly update to the office manager
- The MSP using project boards to manage scope, roles and responsibilities, milestones and sign-off
- Radcliffe Chambers making barristers aware of the improved processes around service management and their own role in the efficient handing of tickets
- Regular high-level meetings to maintain positive dialogue, deal with issues before they become a problem and determine future strategy.
The relationship hasn’t been so much salvaged as remade. The service contract has been built around clear SLAs and requirements, and the MSP has added a deep layer of process and system investment in order to deliver to the set standards. Communication, transparency and accountability have been transformed, and both parties have rebuilt confidence in each other. Baskerville Drummond has also been retained in an advisory non-exec director role to help Radcliffe Chambers get the most from its IT investments.
“In David, you are getting not just a highly knowledgeable and experienced professional, but an astute, affable ally who takes time to explain things in layman’s terms and deals pragmatically with issues. He helped us successfully navigate a difficult situation by stepping back, seeing the bigger picture and being bold enough to broker a new relationship when the easier option was just to start over. We’re an ambitious, fast-growing chambers and it’s reassuring to have David on hand to ensure we maintain the high standards we set for ourselves in relation to technology and security.”