From sourcing point of view, Finance and Business Information Services tries to be your master contractor to provide IT services to you through a cost recovery model. To help you do the budget reasoning on IT values and expenses, we try to tie them directly together from business point of view. That's why we don't want you to fund any position, but services.
There are 4 different service categories we think you need to run and grow your business.
1. IT infrastructure, like network, servers, security and so on. They are more cost effective to be provided at enterprise level. We rely on central IT departments to do so. Some of them are free of charge, others are charged back based on usage. We mostly pass these charges directly to you. Along the way, we group similar services from all customers to reduce the footage. A recent example was a shared virtual server to host testing databases for Parking, Printing, and Laundry. We also make sure the billing to you are accurately reflecting the services you receive. We often bring to the table alternative solutions, either with different technologies or from different sources, to challenge central IT to increase service level and/or reduce service costs.
2. System administration and Support, such as desktop support, workstation life cycle management, and active directory. A central unit to provide the service can be cost neutral, but it needs to be closely integrated into the business practices you perform. We partner with central IT Extended Technology Support team to provide the services. Their support staff, Jodi, works in our office on a full-time base. We are transparent to her what we do while also provide guidance and priorities to her according to our understand of your business processes and requirements. We fund this service through a $0.60/workstation per day charge to you, billed monthly. The price is competitive to desktop support outsourcing contracts in the industries and also provide us an incentive to get more efficient over time.
3. Solution Maintenance that keeps the current custom systems up and running. Those systems and applications include both vended and in-house built ones, and are specific to your business practice. So it makes more sense to localize the support. Based on various system characters, such as criticality, number of users, maintenance frequency, we assign a monthly price tag to each system. No additional cost to charge you when they report issues. This allows us to group systems together and perform preventive maintenance and needed infrastructure upgrade. Meanwhile, this gives you incentive to retire systems that provides little benefits compared to the cost. The retirement of Parking Permit Displacement application is a good example. It also opens the door for negotiation of services level. Brian came to me last month talking about the supporting cost of Cambus Trainer Tool is higher than its benefits. So we reduced the coverage of certain supports the system would not use to make it fit into his budget.
4. Project development that either implements vended systems or builds n-house applications. These are charged back to you by hours we spend on projects at $65/hour. To help you set expectation and manage budget, we try to come up with estimates at each level we deepen our understand on the requirements. Internally, we keep track of the actual hours against estimates to find our discrepancies and review them line by line in internal after action review meetings to identify the causes. We also go through the overall expenses with you during retrospect meetings between development and functional teams. The setting of charge-back by actual development hours releases you from having too much concern on IT capacity and the overhead costs, which are substantial.
To summarize, we believe your time can be better used in evaluating the service we provide against the associated costs than managing technical staff, capacity, and technology choices. To do so, we try to tie the values we deliver directly to the cost and hide the complexity in between. Your faithful trust and support is the most critical factor that makes this model work, especially when we make mistakes. Serving many auxiliary and administration departments together gives us the flexibility to pool demands and resources to achieve economy of scale. A strong commitment of partnership from central IT and other IT departments also backs us up from time to time. Of course, I am very grateful for every FBIS staff. They are eager to serve, accountable, innovative, and dedicated to teamwork.