Audits of On Going Transitions

By Sairam Bollapragada

Transitions, as an in-flight activity, must have provisions to be measured mid-way for any delta corrections to ensure right outcomes and results.

In this aspect, a crisp dashboard for keeping the tab on the pulse of an on-going transition is very similar to monitoring the heartbeat of a patient while in operation. The periodic checks and balances and the need to get alerted should there be a dip in the pulse of the project (read Transition).

While juggling between various activities needed to manage a successful transition, many a times the transition manager overlooks some of the minor issues which can be prickly and hurt in the long run. (please refer )

Some of the key indicators for Transitions getting into ICU would be the following:

  1. KA/KT Sessions not progressing well as per plans and hence impact on resources and cutover
  2. Staffing on both sides being synced to attain the complete effective KT
  3. Cost consciousness of the client for any slippages and keeping all stakeholders in the loop on the budgetary health of the ongoing transition
  4. Less focused aspects of Info Security being factored during KTs to offshore teams
  5. Is any of the transition converging to a hostile takeover?
  6. The list goes on….

I recommend two kinds of audits –

  1. At overall level as a part of governance featured fortnightly and
  2. A Detailed level – At the request of the senior management for transitions where things have gone wrong – totally amiss and with in-depth analysis to project a Go-2-Green plans.

The second one is a focus here since it will help bring out the total picture for an almost-failed transition. While not to mention, through my experience, the English word I dread most is “almost”. One of the influencing factors of  a disastrous transition could be “90% syndrome”. Whenever your leads come and tell you “we are almost done or 90% done” please smell a rat. Transition is characterized by time bound outcomes and there cannot be space for such ambiguity.

Typical areas of focus for the audit begin with the transition plan which has direct inputs from the due-diligence. If the due-diligence is not done effectively, it will reflect in the plan made and hence the risks. A good transition plan will ensure a good level of information to be plugged from DD phase though many a times we agree that the client may not be able to provide good insight into the landscape in the scope leading to incomplete DD.

The plan, the governance structure, the risks (which is often a casualty in itself), assumptions, identification of right stakeholders on both the sides (rather 3 when third party is involved), the current SLA metrics and past reports on service level management adherence – are all key constituents of inspection and scrutiny.

While looking into such audits, I recommend that all the relevant stakeholders be made a part of the audit process and the auditors seek information that may be potentially missing to result in a gaping hole in the plan and strategy. I will pause here with three examples of what could be some potential sources of angst for a transition manager.

In one of the transitions I was looking into for going bad, a big factor that hit the team was lack of clarity on who would sign off on the outcomes. The client pleaded ignorance mentioning that it was their first outsourcing deal and they were unaware of the nuances in a transition. They simply said “…you guys are the experts and we will go with what you say.” The transition manager was overjoyed at being called an expert and felt the sign-offs were easy to come by. However, the thriller was when he submitted the system appreciation documents for sign-off to mark the completion of the transition. The portfolio manager said, neither did he understand what the content in the document really was nor was he told about this process earlier. It took a whole lot of discussions and negotiations by the team to get them to understand why this sign off was necessary. Hence the need to set such expectations through awareness sessions prior to the commencement of transition, identify key sign-off authorities is extremely critical. Every client must be made to participate in the transition as a contractual obligation and this one thing will make life simpler and easier from a process standpoint.

In another case, the transition manager did not know that he has 10 weeks for the incumbent team at clients place and after that he would be packing. Obviously the clients look at further optimizing the cost of paying two vendors. The client served the notice without letting the transition-in manager know, as the client did not feel for such simple applications it was really needed to make too much of hue and cry. In week 6 and 7, the incumbent vendor team started easing out a bit since the applications were not generating enough tickets to solve and the transition-in team felt maybe that’s how much we too can do!! On week 8 & 9 the ticket volume started soaring and they were obviously trying to meet their contractual mandate by resolving the tickets and living up to their signed SLAs. During the same week in a conversation the transition-in manager was shocked to know that at the end of 10th week, the team would be gone. He had a tough time checking back on the KT progress, re-negotiating, checking for the readiness to take over and after all the heart-burns, he got 2 more weeks to close out and take over. Hence the transition manager needs to keep the eyes and ears open across all portfolios. Everything is not told over mails, sometimes, you need to excavate and consistently look for being plugged to hear the ground level noise.

As a last example, in yet one another audit, it was discovered that unlike usual procedure, there was ZERO Risk Budget accounted for and the transition manager, though able to identify high level risks, did not feel motivated to verify & validate the same during the due diligence. Since he was unable to assess, plan for the mitigation and hence put a budgetary ask together, the risks were addressed randomly leading to a money spent to mitigate risks to be around 25% of the cost as against generic 10-14% risk dollars.

Of course, I have also seen the best transition program where the transition manager was able to complete the entire transition (accelerating few) hitting all deadlines and resulting in savings of around 38% of the transition cost budgeted!!


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