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75% reduction in internal resource; Reduced costs

MS Society: Strategic IT Review and Interim CIO

MS Society needed IT services and infrastructure capable of supporting its five-year strategic plan. Following our review of its IT function, we recommended and supported the implementation of a change programme that resulted in a successful outsourcing of IT infrastructure services and significant cost savings.

COMPANY BACKGROUND

The MS Society is the UK's largest charity for people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) - about 100,000 people in the UK. The MSS funds MS research, runs respite care homes, provides financial assistance, education and training on MS, produces numerous publications on MS and runs a freephone helpline. With over 40,000 members, the MSS delivers its services to members and the general public via a network of over 300 branches across the UK, with its Head Office in London and three regional offices in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The challenge

The MS Society's five-year strategic plan involved a number of enabling projects that required IT support. In light of this strategy, IndigoBlue was asked to undertake a strategic review of the IT function.

The IT review identified fragmented resources across the organisation providing IT services, a lack of integrated systems across the national offices and poor remote access to systems.

Our approach

The remit of IndigoBlue was to support the programme office and to identify areas of opportunity. An initial review was performed by two IndigoBlue consultants in which the programme was audited with regard to the key Agile tenets of communication, collaboration and quality. To achieve this, the programme plans were reviewed and meetings were held with stakeholders, workstream managers and delivery managers.

A number of areas of opportunity were identified, as were the key risks. The main opportunity was in the area of cross-programme communication and collaboration, and several initiatives were taken in this area. An alignment workshop was held for business stream managers which proved successful in highlighting key concerns in the team and opportunities for improvement.

The key risk identified in the report, and again in the alignment workshop, was that of the IT infrastructure. Dependencies on existing systems, physical space, network capacity and security implied that this area could jeopardise the entire programme.

In the key risk area of infrastructure, a strategic decision was made to outsource the provision of IT services. This was coupled with a programme of work to implement an integrated infrastructure to ensure access to integrated and centralised systems for all UK regions and effective support to home workers. IndigoBlue provided an interim CIO one day a week to manage this change programme.

The outcomes

The outcome of the outsourcing and change programme was a successful migration to the new infrastructure services, a 75% reduction in internal resources coupled with a reduced overall cost of service.

The engagement of the stakeholders during the initial review, allied to the proposed introduction of Agile techniques, helped establish early buy-in to the programme. It also provided a point of reference for future user engagement.

The initiatives introduced to aid cross-stream communication, particularly the workshop, proved a great success in addressing programme issues and allowing the managers to work as a team to identify solutions.

The use of regular interim deliverables with collaborative reviews ensured that tangible progress could be tracked throughout the duration of the project and that problems could be identified (both in business process and technical areas) at an early stage. Additionally, as each workstream was working collaboratively and following a similar iterative process, opportunities for improvement could be applied in other areas, allowing any benefits to be realised programme-wide.

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