IT directors scored their service providers less than 5 out of 10 when asked the question: “In general in the last three years, how would you rate your third party IT service providers in IT consulting projects?”
The mean score of 4.9 was only just lower than the 5.1 mean score for software development provision and the slightly healthier 5.9 for software services management.
“These figures are very worrying” said Alex Wright, researcher at Winmark: “In the services industry we would typically expect figures to be at about 8 out of 10. To be around, or even lower, than the 5 mark suggests that IT services providers have got a long way to go to deliver the value that IT directors are looking for.”
However, when asked about their relationship with IT directors, representatives from IT services companies were more upbeat, albeit hardly glowing. When asked to rate their overall experience of dealing with IT directors, the scores ranged from 6.6 for understanding issues faced by the third parties themselves through to 7.2 for strategic direction. Between these were scores of 6.7 for availability and 7.1 for the provision of a clear brief.
This was in stark contrast to the views of the IT director who gave providers low scores in most categories. When asked if they had been particularly satisfied or particularly disappointed, scores ranged from 68% particularly disappointed for robust processes and 65% for remote access through to 68% particularly satisfied in project management and 63% in technological capability.
“Service providers will be disappointed with these scores” said Peter Tubb, VP (EMEA) for sales and operations at eTask. “This industry should have matured to the point where requirements like robust processes are pretty standard but clearly this is not the case.”
Tubb also picked up on the discrepancy between robust processes and project management: “Despite the lack of processes it would appear that project management is reasonably well thought of. This would suggest that the teams providing the project management are actually doing an incredible job despite the lack of processes that they would clearly benefit from.”
Remote access and integration with existing systems (61% particularly disappointed) were also issues for IT directors with one commenting that third parties are “not able to meld existing technology and processes with new technology.”
Added Tubb: “Both these were a surprise. With the systems and software available today, you would have thought it would be a given that IT directors would have remote access to gain a transparent view of where the project is at any given time. It would appear that this doesn’t happen in the way that IT directors would like.”
IT directors also commented on “internal issues with the service provider” and that “there was a failure to keep us informed at an early stage” while another expressed annoyance that “they were not geared up to the needs of my business.”
But third party suppliers also have their issues with IT directors. One area picked up by Winmark’s’ Wright was the poor scoring for strategic direction: “Sixty per cent of service providers scored 7 or less when asked about the quality of strategic direction. If you consider that any score below 7 out of 10 translates pretty much to ‘ok’ at best then this would suggest that IT directors still have a long way to go before they are seen as strategic in the way that many of them would like.”
Communication was another critical area with service providers making comments like: “they know what they want but it’s hard to get hold of them and get them to move things forward “and that “they haven’t really understood what they really wanted to achieve from the project.”
The survey also looked at current perceptions of SaaS delivered through the cloud. Not surprisingly, this concept has grown massively over the past few years and this is reflected in the fact that 40% of IT directors saw SaaS as “an inevitable future of office technology” while an even greater percentage of service providers (80%) were also very positive about the ability of SaaS to deliver.
“We weren’t surprised at this,” said Juan Manrique, CEO & Founder of eTask: “There were a few dismissive comments but you are always going to get that, particularly from late adopters and from people for whom SaaS is just not appropriate. What was interesting was that only 10% of IT directors expressed any actual real concerns about things like security. That does suggest that any negatives associated with SaaS are fast disappearing.”
The survey was conducted by Winmark between May 24 and May 31, 2010. Twenty IT directors were surveyed online while 20 service providers were surveyed through telephone interviews.