Developing a strategy to address the deficiencies of a legacy, inflexible, monolithic contract


Our client is a leading international branded consumer goods business that manufactures and markets a wide range of category leading brands across areas that include beauty, food and hygiene.

Key to its operation is the provision of resilient, secure IT services to enable and accelerate its business. For many years, a significant proportion of IT services, including security, service management and infrastructure services, were provided by a prime IT service provider via a single contract.

Client Challenge:

Over a period of 18 months, our client experienced a steady deterioration of the services being delivered by its prime IT supplier. Whilst in many cases contractual SLAs were being met, the levels of customer intimacy and empathy had reduced to a point where the relationship was becoming increasingly untenable. Simple interactions became complex, minor changes became “a big deal” and innovation and continuous improvement became increasingly rare. Ultimately, the client felt that it was all too often “doing the job” of the supplier and in certain areas, the supplier was felt to be incapable of bringing the skills and capabilities required to deliver the client’s strategic intent.

Being acutely aware of the scale, criticality and commercial complexity of the services, plus the potential for IP and knowledge loss, the client was keen to explore and evaluate options to address the current issues, underpin its strategic goals (which included a major workplace transformation and cloud migration) and reduce cost whilst improving service quality.

What we did:

Our team took a holistic approach to the challenge. Rather than adopting an aloof, clipboard waving consulting approach, we collaborated closely with the thin, already heavily utilised client team. As important as empirical “fact” was user perception of the services and over a short period we had developed a deep understanding of the problem. Our exploration included the anecdotal, the empirical and the contractual, taken from all available sources, including the service provider. Our findings were shared with the IT leadership team and wholeheartedly supported, which in turn provided the foundation for the development of a range of potential options.

Being mindful of the scale and criticality of the services, and the availability of key client resources (including technical SMEs, procurement and legal), a range of options were considered, evaluated and a shortlist developed. A range of considerations, including potential service and user impact, technical complexity (including transition), cost, timescales and risk were evaluated. Options were reviewed via a series of workshops with the client IT leadership team and once agreed, a plan to execute the agreed strategy was developed.

The agreed strategy was to:

  • Engage in a short, agile, sole source engagement with the incumbent provider to develop a plan to address the issues and propose a new strategic solution and commercials
  • Should the supplier proposal be credible and address the client issues, work to develop a new, flexible, modular contract for the current scope of services
  • Should the supplier proposal not be fit for purpose, go to market for the current scope of services and seek discrete solutions from best fit suppliers in the areas of Digital Security, Service Management and Cloud & Infrastructure

Positive Client Outcomes:

This engagement brought a range of positive client outcomes including:

  • A clear understanding of the client problem underpinned with both fact and perspective
  • The development of a well-considered range of options to address the issues, supported with the necessary plans, data and wider considerations to enable rapid initiation and progression without undue risk
  • A demonstrable commitment to work collaboratively and “fix the problem” with the incumbent supplier, subject to the achievement of clearly documented goals and milestones (Option A)
  • A go-to-market strategy, with supporting plans, to split the current supplier scope into 3 discrete elements (Digital Security, Service Management & Cloud & Infrastructure) and source best fit solutions in the event that the “fix the problem” desire proved unsuccessful (Option B)

Ultimately, our client chose to progress with Option B after the incumbent supplier decided not to progress with the sole source engagement for a number of operational and commercial reasons. Option B was put into action and our client engaged upon a major programme to source best in class solutions for the 3 scope areas that would accelerate its strategy and achieve the desired levels of service level improvement and cost reduction.