Westpac takes back outsourced service desks

Liz Tay | Aug 6, 2012 7:00 AM
IBM outsourcing relationship shrinks.

Westpac has credited its establishment of a single, internal service desk last July for driving down errors and outage recovery times by more than 80 percent in the past year.

The banking group has been consolidating the service desks of its retail, institutional, BT and St.George businesses since 2010, when it replaced a massive, expiring $US2.3 billion IBM contract with a smaller five-year contract for key infrastructure services.

At the time, Westpac said it would take "greater accountability in the design and management of IT services", using other suppliers or solutions where appropriate.

Westpac has spent the three-and-a-half years building out a single platform to replace some 13 software tools for managing service requests, incidents, service levels, change and configurations.

The platform integrates BMC’s Remedy IT service management (ITSM) suite with a configuration management database and a range of data centre, end-user and customer-facing systems.

It is accessed by 5700 users – including Westpac technology staff and contractors from IBM, Telstra, Optus, HP, Infosys, Wipro and TCS – through dashboards that display information about system health, any issues, and service level agreements.

The consolidated platform also allowed Westpac to replace four service desks – provided by IBM in Ballarat and China, Telstra, and HP EDS in India – with its St.George service desk in Adelaide, in a bid for a more simple, holistic approach to IT.

A Westpac spokeswoman said the new arrangement, established last July, was "an integral part" of the group's service management strategy.

"The transition was very successful and led to the creation of new jobs in Adelaide," she said.

Westpac staff said the new approach had reduced the time required to address priority one outages from almost 35 hours in January 2011 to less than five hours this April.

Configuration changes were also causing fewer errors, from about 16 incidents caused by system changes last September to two incidents in April.

Last May, ABC reported that IBM could make 80 Ballarat workers redundant under plans to shift its Westpac service desk from the Victorian city to Adelaide.

The Australian reported last week that some 200 IBM workers could be made redundant on August 31, under a "redeployment" program, codenamed "Project Phoenix".

Edited August 9, 10.30am: The first paragraph has been edited to clarify that the move was completed in July 2011.