Quality support and guidance based on sound relationships: Providence Consulting experiences the Centrered difference
Does IT have to be difficult? That was the question Providence Consulting found itself asking after a tortuous engagement with a legacy service provider which also had the gumption to charge like a wounded kangaroo. Seeking a better alternative, the company found Centrered and discovered that the answer to the opening question was ‘no, IT does not have to be so difficult’. Nor expensive; it also soon developed a trusted partner relationship with Centrered where advice is sought and given freely, service delivery improved, and a managed services provider becomes an integral part of Providence’s growth and development.
Canberra-headquartered Providence Consulting is an Australian veteran-owned professional services provider which has delivered services and specialisations to defence, government, and industry since 2005. Founded in the capital and operating nationally, Providence is guided by an ethical and unique approach to consulting and has built a reputation as an authentic capability partner.
From a customer’s point of view, among the challenges with IT services delivery is the great unknown. This can mean pricing and the quality of the relationship are difficult to pin down in the absence of a good frame of reference. By the same token, the quality of the advice and services provided might be open to interpretation, despite the availability of guidelines like ITIL best practice standards or effective IT Service Management (ITSM) tools. But for Providence Consulting, there were some serious red flags with an existing managed services provider. CEO Adash Janiszewski provides a blunt assessment: “We were deeply unhappy with our service provider. They were charging a lot of money while at the same time offering a very, very poor customer focus and relationship with us as a client.”
With diverse workforce requirements and appreciating the necessity for – and potential offered by – technology closely aligned to company goals, Janiszewski says Providence wanted more than ‘one size fits all’ computing solutions. It also wanted a relationship which went beyond the ‘transactional’ break/fix nature of most managed services engagements – a strategic partner, in other words. While offshoring is cheap, Providence didn’t consider it suitable. “We wanted to get our data architecture right. To do that we needed a partner capable of understanding the mechanics and operations of our business, something we were confident wasn’t possible without someone who actively and regularly engaged with us. An offshore solution would not meet our needs.,” he explains.
Considerable frustration led Providence to test the market – and it found Centrered just down the road.
It was a case of chalk meet cheese from the very start. Instead of delivering a bog-standard approach of looking after the computers, Centrered kicked off by sending in a member of its professional services team for an on-site engagement. “Centrered spent time understanding who we are, how we operate, what we currently have in terms of IT infrastructure and services, what our needs are, and where the gaps are, ahead of working out what they actually had to design and deliver,” explains Janiszewski.
Just like a good doctor treats the patient and not the disease, Centrered was interested in serving the people of Providence Consulting and not their computers. “This just couldn’t happen with any offsite engagement,” Janiszewski notes. “We needed the right person in our corporate office who would see the daily mechanics of the organisation.”
Through this process, Centrered gained an understanding of the variety within Providence’s workforce – from in-office roles ranging from executives to interns, and on to representatives calling on customers across the road or across Australia. “Our staffing and therefore their IT needs are a little bit unique. Centrered appreciated that we have three categories of staff requiring different levels of support,” notes Janiszewski. As each level of support has a cost, this was important in managing value delivery. “The approach worked well; heavy and proactive interactions between their account manager and our people / the end result was a smooth transition where staff didn’t experience any disruptions.”
While Janiszewski is clear that quick wins aren’t to be expected with IT in general and managed services in particular, he says the thoroughness and meticulousness with which Centrered has kicked off the engagement bodes well. It’s also resulted in a level of confidence in their IT services partner entirely absent from the previous engagement – confidence built on trust and respect. “Originally, we engaged for level one and two technical support. That’s quickly grown to support and guidance in device procurement and configuration, with optimised connections into our tenants and other IT architecture,” Janiszewski explains.
Further advice and support in cybersecurity has assisted the company in accelerating its best practice mission, essential for an organisation engaging regularly with government agencies. “Centrered provided an independent perspective on our cybersecurity standards in relation to best practice. That supports the appropriate structures for the immediate organisational requirements, while positioning us for the work we do with government clients today and in future,” comments Janiszewski.
He also points to database structure and general IT architecture as areas where Centrered expertise has proven invaluable. “The engagement has been organic and easily conducted. And I give credit to Centrered for noting clearly where they are experts, and deferring where they are not. This is a sign of integrity; they’ll call in outside expertise where necessary rather than taking a ‘know it all’ approach.”
The best recommendation he has for Centrered is, in fact, a recommendation. “I believe they’ve gained several additional clients based on my referrals. I have had several calls from companies conducting due diligence and I have been highly positive about Centrered’s support,” Janiszewski smiles. “Great IT support at the start doesn’t have to be about a specific solution. Instead, take the time to sit down and discuss your requirements and expectations. If the provider can understand your requirements and how you work…well, that’s really, really, important. It results in an engagement built on relationships and mutual value creation – quite different from the transactional situation we had before,” he concludes.
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