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Allianz, CSC kiss and make up

Allianz Australia CIO Steven Coles has told ZDNet Australia that while the company recently resigned CSC to an AU$8 million desktop services deal, it hasn't all been plain sailing between the two.The Australian offshoot of the German insurer this week re-signed CSC to provide desktop services for the next three years.
Written by Steven Deare, Contributor

Allianz Australia CIO Steven Coles has told ZDNet Australia that while the company recently resigned CSC to an AU$8 million desktop services deal, it hasn't all been plain sailing between the two.

The Australian offshoot of the German insurer this week re-signed CSC to provide desktop services for the next three years. However, this was not before Coles let CSC know some of its services weren't up to scratch and pitted them against the market.

Steve Cole, Allianz CIO

CSC has provided desktop, mainframe, midrange and network management services to Allianz Australia for the past three years.

"We had some issues with cost," Coles said of the previous CSC desktop services arrangement.

"We just weren't comfortable with the cost of those services," he said, without going into detail.

Coles joined Allianz Australia early last year, with the desktop services deal due to expire last December.

To investigate better alternatives, Coles benchmarked CSC's services against the market, and explored different sourcing models such as offshoring.

"The experience for us with CSC was mixed," he said.

"Within the services they were providing, some were robust and competitive internationally. Some we had issues with cost."

New relationship terms
A major reason for CSC winning the desktop services tender is a revised partner model between Allianz and CSC, which Coles drew up last year.

"One thing I changed was the relationship with CSC, so that we engaged them in our priorities and plans.

"Previously, we used to see them as a downstream supplier. You just focus on the RFP [request for proposals] and price ... and just kick them if they don't deliver on the box ... that was the old model," he said.

Under the new model, CSC is allowed to independently identify technologies that can help Allianz reduce costs.

"They've come up with things they never would have before," said Coles, citing WAN and network optimisation as one area where CSC had found benefits for Allianz.

"I wouldn't have had the chance to hunt down these opportunities," Coles said, citing his busy schedule.

As part of the new model, CSC put an account management team in place to deal with Allianz to ensure better communication.

"They made sure they were hearing our issues."

CSC also changed the way it would provide desktop services in its tender. The vendor will use its mPower remote management system to support users, where previously they would physically help a user. Allianz has around 3,500 desktops and will standardise on Windows XP.

Coles also changed the terms of the desktop services request for tender to give Allianz more control over its helpdesk, an area where the company wasn't satisfied with CSC. He also chose to in-source management of Lotus Notes and e-mail, identifying cost advantages.

CSC won the tender ahead of five other bidders.

"So it was an interesting turnaround for an organisation that was seen as not hitting the mark broadly," said Coles.

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