Advantra presses home advantage

Services company Advantra has scored a lucrative three-year desktop services contract with telco giant Telstra in a deal that didn't even make it out to tender.

Billed as one of the country's largest desktop services contracts, Advantra has assumed responsibility for the management of Telstra's desktop and associated services - currently running at around 50,000 service units (PCs, notebooks, networked printers) - as of July 1, Advantra announced in a statement.

Leveraging its position as a wholly owned subsidiary of Telstra, Advantra's CEO, Craig Cameron, said: "Advantra is in a position to provide a true partnership arrangement and work closely with Telstra to ensure that it can capitalise [on its objectives]."

With the deal not going to tender, Advantra had the inside running. "We knew Telstra was looking to outsource this business and we entered into negotiations with them," said Advantra's manager, corporate communications, Sharlene Findlay, who was unwilling to disclose the monetary value of the desktop services contract.

After moving its data centres to IBM GSA three years ago, Telstra has been considering outsourcing desktop services for some time, according to Graham Bull, general manager IT services, Telstra. "We had a bit of a think about going to tender [for desktop services]," he said.

But in the end the ability to bolster Advantra's national presence as well as throwing it a significant piece of business was too much to refuse for the nation's largest telecommunications company.

"We made sure we got a good deal," Bull said. "They're focusing on building their business in the desktop services market, so we get the services and also get to add some value to Advantra."

Under the agreement, Advantra will manage helpdesk services for desktop/LAN, service-level reporting, installations, training, projects and the certification of desktop/portable products. However, Findlay claims the company is not looking at offering procurement services in addition to the services contract.

Now boasting customer desktop figures in excess of 65,000 desktops Australia-wide, Advantra has been forced to step up its regional diversity to accommodate the agreement. Despite growing its staff from 350 nearly three years ago to nearly 1500 today, Advantra will acquire the resources of "pre-existing staff servicing Telstra in regional areas [including Northern Queensland and Darwin]" claimed Findlay, as well as aggressively recruiting its own staff "parallel" to these initiatives.

"In the short-term, we have to have the resources [to handle the contract]," said Findlay.

"Advantra offered jobs to [Telstra] staff on a selected basis. As with any change of company, staff have to go through a transition . . . some didn't make the selection criteria and we are working to redeploy them somewhere within Telstra," Bull said, adding others chose not to go across to Advantra.

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