Why Transition Managers need to be strong problem solvers!

By Sairam Bollapragada

Transition being highly collaborative exercise constrained by time, budget and no option than to succeed, the flight of transition is a turbulent one, at the least in most cases. As a transition manager, one needs to be in charge of the situation and scenarios. You simply cannot afford to miss or mess anything.

The 12+ areas of focus that he needs to manage have to be deftly dealt with when it comes to the job. He has to be a real thinker on the feet trying to create, build or explore continuous solutions so that he is in-charge for issues that crop up in an otherwise quicksand journey.

There are few scenarios that I would like to bring to the fore considering my experiences… The nature of the problem can be across spectrum and one, as a transition manager, will need to take some of these decisions – and few of them may not necessarily be in the space of safe delivery.

One area that is common across all transition areas is the agility that the transition manager needs to demonstrate in order to think on the toes and resolve issues….(keep thinking…..” we simply don’t have the time..”). The sense of urgency should be the primary driver – it is now or never. Problem solving comes to those who are natural innovators and who can take split second decisions. What I mean by split second decisions is a well thought through decisions and not something that is made up in haste.

Why is Transition Manager a real on the feet problem solver? I will jot down few examples and scenarios to leave you thinking on the prespective…

Scenario A: imagine there are associated applications in the landscape which are naughty applications…they are not always made explicit and they are not foreseen even during due diligence. It is a lurking danger which can hit you anytime (more akin to a booby trap), derailing the scheduled cut-overs, the stabilization of steady state operations, etc. These naughty applications which are often applications with multiple interfaces to downstream and upstream applications with multi-vendor engagements – need to be thoroughly studied and analyzed so that we can establish a behavior pattern of the application through understanding it though it may or may not belong to our scope. We need to potentially invest in studying the most tightly coupled applications around and understand the risks about them. Hence to do this, we may need to get a couple of resources – technical architect and a domain SME.

Both together can establish potential profiling of technological and domain-related issues, their past, the choking points, potential survival traces and techniques, all together profiling the characteristic of the application. One can then put up a mitigation plan against all risks hence identified.

Scenario B: Critical resources being pulled out by the incumbent.

Be cautious that every vendor reacts to his being removed from an annuity job which probably his team might have been supporting for quite some time – in many cases, for more than a decade. Hence one of the risks that come with the incumbent is removal of critical and knowledgeable resources as early as possible.

This can begin as soon as the incumbent teams are given the news of non-inclusion. The 3-in-a-box assumed significance here. The transition manager should get into a point of negotiation through the client in these meetings where this point needs to be highlighted. Many times, the client should get involved in identifying most knowledgeable and critical vendor resources and get the incumbent vendor to give a commitment that they would ensure the retention of these resources till the cut-over of new services and service-commencement is called out.

Scenario C: Resources required to join the team don’t arrive or are not showing up due to various constraints (VISA, Background checks, availability, etc).

The most risky part of the transition is ineffective resource ramp up plan and identification of how many. While generic assumption is that you need at least 30-40% steady state size resources from day 1 of the transition, you need to start baking these, right from the DD stages. The DD in many ways allows us to establish the application landscape on some parameters which can call out complex and business critical applications. However, these applications need highly skilled and maybe multi-skilled resources. In this scenario, the availability of such niche skills and resources become one of the most critical success factors to be able to carry out the knowledge transfer and transition seamlessly. However, transition managers may run into non-availability of such skills sometimes due to various influencing parameters like time, duration, lead times, contractual constraints of the client, etc. When this is one of the risks that can hit us, we need to be able to ask for a risk corpus during deal pursuit and set aside a risk kitty which helps come to rescue in these cases. If we were to make the scenario more complex by saying that the current incumbent has to leave the premises in the next 6 weeks to contractually sign off and cannot continue in the premises, the pressure is really on to get the required resources in time in place (not to mention availability of VISA, lead times to hire if none available within organization, etc). In such scenarios, what they should be able to find a local contractual resource that can fill in the time gap to carry on the KT and help the release of the 3rd party resources. However, it is a temporary fix arrangement and extension of time before our own resources can be brought in for taking over the services, though may prove to be expensive.

The above are only 3 scenarios from a potential bunch which needs decisions to be taken on progression and some of them need one to take quick decisions – especially like when you have on-boarded the resources at onsite and the incumbent vendor is giving last minute updates that they are not yet ready….each passing idle day of a resource onsite hits the transition cost. However, the transition manager should bring in his entire delivery experience to the table to be able to ensure a better transition and cut-over to service commencement.

The consistent endeavor throughout the journey is to have the least impact of the transition on the service delivery to the client and his end users!!


One thought on “Why Transition Managers need to be strong problem solvers!

  1. Useful insight, Sairam. Solutions mentioned define the way to take the transition forward. The Transition manager needs to pay more attention to detail while negotiation or preparation of the response to situations. Much of the success depends on the ‘abilities ‘ of the Transition Manager to play the ‘problem solver’ with agility and ability to foresee risks round the blind curve. Thanks for the insight., Sairam.


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