Service delivery debacle escalates at Defence

Glut of support requests

The outsourcing relationship between the Department of Defence and Kaz has hit new lows with poor IT service delivery and support with the potential to impact on the military organization's operational capability.

Despite remediation efforts by the outsourcing provider, Kaz to address the service delivery problems and stem rising call volumes to the service desk, sources within the department claim staff shortages and helpdesk issues are getting worse.

Helpdesk call volumes, waiting time data and change request information obtained by Computerworld show a backlog of IT support requests with some jobs taking as long as six weeks.

The service delivery problems, first reported in a Computerworld (August 30, 2006, p1) in article titled, Defence feels pinch on skills, support, emerged after the Department of Defence inked a five-year $200 million outsourcing deal with Kaz in 2005.

In the earlier story, a department spokesperson said Kaz had taken steps to address the service delivery problems, admitting there were "challenges".

However, department sources said the provider's second-level support teams simply moved jobs to the local support teams to ensure requests didn't breach Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and to avoid being penalized.

"This way the local job queues are growing steadily and Kaz is able to report that it is meeting SLAs; local support teams are also about to be outsourced and [because they] think Kaz will get the contract, they don't want to cooperate with the outsourcer so jobs are passed back and forth," the source said.

"This back-and-forth movement of jobs leads to many medium-priority jobs taking six weeks to resolve."

Internal incident and change request backlog data obtained by Computerworld shows upwards of 6000 jobs are in the "31-plus days" bracket. Moreover, sources claim the network operations centre is understaffed by about 55 operators.

In addition to high staff turnover, the source said Kaz is struggling to recruit and meet demand.

"When the XP rollout started in November 2005, there wasn't enough staff to handle the load. The [so-called] 'tiger teams' the provider sends in are little more than a diversionary tactic to placate the CIO," the source said.

Staffing issues were also exacerbated by a staff exodus after the deal was signed.

Sources said staff members were re-offered positions at much lower rates.

Call-handling times have also been halved, the source said, so the outsourcing provider can process more calls.

"The resolution rate goes down and the user has to call back many times; Kaz apparently gets paid for each call it takes," the source said. In a bid to cope with staff shortages, sources said security policies are being breached.

"The [security] clearance process takes too long, so uncleared staff are being allowed to man the service desk," the source said.

Both Kaz and the Department of Defence were invited to respond to the claims but didn't by deadline.

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