CXO

Using the Internet for supply chain services

IT service providers and professional services organizations are using the Internet to meet customer demand for better service. Changepoint president Gerry Smith outlines a supply chain strategy for senior decision-makers.


By Gerry Smith

Corporate IT departments and professional services organizations (PSOs) are experiencing unprecedented demand for advanced, high-quality, professional services from both internal and external customers.

A recent survey by the market research firm Dataquest predicts worldwide spending on IT professional services to top $630 billion (U.S.) by 2002, indicating that the need for professional services is real.

Research consultants of the nearly 3,000 North American PSOs, large internal IT departments, IT consulting companies, software development companies, and services divisions of high-tech product vendors have the potential to spend approximately $3.3 billion on software for IT service delivery management. To meet the demand, IT service providers are collaborating with their customers and a growing roster of external stakeholders, such as contractors, external PSOs, business partners, and software companies. Collectively, this array of stakeholders forms the professional services supply chain.

Managing B2B interactions and collaboration between stakeholders in the services supply chain, however, presents a number of potentially time consuming and costly challenges.

“IT organizations have traditionally been frustrated with the complicated, expensive and labor-intensive process of trying to communicate and collaborate with a range of professional service buyers and suppliers who all use different management processes and systems. Coupled with that, such organizations often face severe resource constraints,” says David Hofferberth, senior analyst with the Aberdeen Group’s professional services division. “To implement new, competitive business applications and ensure customer satisfaction, IT departments and PSOs require integrated, cohesive solutions to manage resource allocation, project collaboration, and service delivery.”

The benefits of an Internet-based, B2B infrastructure
Perhaps the most effective way for IT departments and services organizations to overcome these challenges is to utilize a common, Internet-based B2B framework that automates and integrates the entire professional services supply chain. Having such an infrastructure in place enables organizations to manage the entire internal and external resource pool—irrespective of location—as a single unified entity. It also allows contract staff, business partners, and customers to log on to and work through a central, secure, Web-enabled portal and user interface.

“Internet-based solutions, such as Changepoint’s, streamline the complex process of delivering and receiving professional services by seamlessly linking external participants such as contractors, partners, and customers to their service delivery systems,” said Hofferberth.

The following two examples of successfully implemented enterprise professional services solutions outline how IT departments and professional service organizations can benefit from implementing professional services solutions.
  1. Contractor management for corporate IT departments: Enabling contractors to submit time and expenses via the Internet using a Web portal allows corporate IT departments to receive the same information as they would from internal staff using a common reporting mechanism. IT managers can then audit and compare the time and expense reports submitted by contractors with the invoices they’ve received.

    With this, corporate IT departments avoid paying for services more than once and always understand what they are paying for.

    An Internet-based infrastructure also allows IT managers to track contractors and the projects they are working on—right down to specific tasks. Armed with this information, managers can assign contractors according to project priority and reassign top contractors as soon as they complete a project—rather than letting them go.
  2. Client relationship management for professional services organizations: A fully integrated services supply chain enables PSOs to manage working relationships by interacting and collaborating with their clients over the Internet. For instance, an integrated client relation management solution allows customers to access invoices for review and approval, check project status, and view project-related files and directories. Customers also are equipped to review and approve invoices for services over the Internet, simplifying the approval and payment process.

    Using a unifying Internet-based architecture integrates and automates the services supply chain by standardizing the way service chain stakeholders work together and exchange information, minimizing delivery times and costs. This common framework allows corporate IT departments to concentrate on delivering leading-edge business applications to their organizations and customers.

Changepoint
Changepoint, headquartered in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, delivers Web-based Professional Services Automation (PSA) solutions for managing the professional services supply chain. Changepoint PSA and myChangepoint.com offer B2B Internet infrastructure that brokers the relationships between buyers, sellers, and partners in the e-services marketplace, allowing all individuals in the services supply chain to operate and inter-operate across a common framework.

Gerry Smith is President and CEO of Changepoint Corporation, the leading provider of Business-to-Business application infrastructure for the IT Professional Services Industry. Changepoint’s Web-based solutions automate the complete business of both IT professional services firms and corporate IT departments, and bring services supply and demand organizations together through a seamless B2B Internet infrastructure.


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