Users turn to IT service management consultants

Analysts find fragmented market can pose a risk to major initiatives

A broad range of external IT service management (ITSM) consultants are being used by IT organisations within mature Asia Pacific IT markets such as Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, according to research from Hydrasight. While this is not unexpected -- given current market demand and enthusiasm -- it has created a fragmented market being served by numerous players of various sizes and descriptions. This market reality can, however, represent a key project risk for IT organisations embarking on a major ITSM initiative in the Asia/Pacific region.

Overall, Hydrasight's research showed that the majority (more than 75 per cent) of IT organisations have used one or more ITSM consultancies during the past two years. Of these, more than 70 per cent indicated that they received moderate value from their external ITSM consultants in regard to improving IT processes and/or ITSM. Slightly more than 10 per cent indicated that they had received little value.

ITSM consultancies being used cover a broad spectrum, and include:

  • Large global firms (e.g., Accenture, IBM, and HP predominantly plus Bearing Point, Bridgepoint, Cap Gemini, and Deloittes);
  • Mid-sized local firms (e.g., Oakton, SMS);
  • Individual consultants / contractors.

Hydrasight's research showed that more than 40 per cent of ITOs are relying on individual experts rather than broad industry experience or standards. Some respondents indicated that direct consultants (ie contractors) were considered cheaper, easier to control, provided better results, and were easier to guide yet more susceptible to internal politics. Hydrasight also noted that, either by choice or otherwise, smaller firms were able to provide a reduced potential conflict of interest.

According to Michael Warrilow, director of Hydrasight, these survey results suggested that current, common practice with ITSM initiatives still involves the use of various sources of external expertise. "We believe best practice will require the development of internal skills and knowledge transfer, which Hydrasight believes is most frequently a function of (a positive) internal IT culture rather than the size, quality, skills or experience of the ITSM service provider," Warrilow said.

In order to maximise the return from such an investment in external expertise, Hydrasight believes ITOs must ensure that sufficient investment of internal skills is maintained throughout the ITSM initiative rather than simply passing responsibility to a third party.

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report

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