WSIB outsources desktop management work

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB) has transferred ownership of its PC assets to IBM Canada as part of a 10-year services agreement that will lower admin costs, enhance

PC security and employee mobility, and improve PC infrastructure management.

Under the agreement, IBM is responsible for managing all desktop and laptop personal computer resources for WSIB and over 4,300 of its employees. Starting last month, WSIB now pays IBM a monthly bill for the use of the equipment and service of it. Financial details of last week’s deal were not disclosed.

“If (IBM) owns the assets, then the administration overhead rests with them,” said Valerie Adamo, the WSIB’s chief information officer and vice-president business technology services. “It lets us focus more on our core business and lets them be more accountable for the parts that we were struggling with between the two organizations.”

IBM will also provide what it calls an “Innovation Advocate” or expert to help WSIB review what technologies the Board currently has in place, what’s available in the marketplace and how it can get these technologies over time.

“That’s the real secret to a long-term agreement like this,” Greg Gulyas, vice-president, public sector, IBM Global Services Canada, said. “The market does change so quickly, so we want to be able to refresh ideas. That’s one of the reasons why (WSIB) did give us a long-term agreement, because they didn’t feel we would lock them into a current structure or operating approach.”

IBM will also provide help desk and desk-side support as part of its global services, image management, software distribution and printer support. In terms of image management, for example, IBM is helping WSIB to reduce cost and improve service by reducing the number of images on desktops.

“If you’ve got 4,000 users, you don’t need 4,000 images. You might only need half a dozen,” said Gulyas. “You can’t depend on 4,000 people to install the latest security patch.”

WSIB, which is currently using IBM desktops and Toshiba laptops, will deploy IBM ThinkPad laptops as part of its next PC refresh, said Gulyas. Asked whether any of the PCs will bear the Lenovo brand, Gulyas said: “(IBM) has a preferred relationship with (Lenovo) and we would look to them first. Our expectation is that they’ll continue to provide the leading-edge technologies over the term of the agreement.

“Our overall commitment to the board and other customers with similar arrangements is that we’ll bring to them the best that the marketplace has to offer for their needs,” Gulyas added.

Prior to the current arrangement, IBM had a five-year contract with WSIB to provide desktop support.

“We have had a very good regular model relationship with (IBM) over previous five years,” said Adamo. “One of the difficulties that we always encountered was a little bit of ‘he said/she said.’ You’ve got inventory management and you’ve got asset management and you’re constantly reconciling.”

That’s why, in October of last year, WSIB sat down with IBM to discuss new business and pricing models that would address these challenges.

“(WSIB’s) requirements had changed and they wanted to move to more of a service-based offering to handle the support and product as more of a service as opposed to an ownership basis,” said Gulyas.

For example, IBM has also agreed to develop a management model over the next year to measure if the new arrangement is as effective or more than the previous one. If WSIB finds that it isn’t working out for them, they can revert back to the old model.

“It’s kind of a low-risk, easy-in, lots of easy out,” said Adamo. “Benefits are lowered administrative cost and effort on our part with increased accountability to a service provider that has a strong track record of providing well for us.”

IBM, which has been working with WSIB for the past decade, had put in a bid with partner Metafore Corp., which is responsible for some of the service delivery, as part of a competitive procurement process.

“At the end of the day (IBM) was the absolute best deal available,” said Adamo, adding IBM is contractually obligated to reduce cost of ownership by five per cent annually as a general rule.

“We both have a certain belief that we will enter into this with the best interests at heart.

We have contractual provisions that will protect us both in those circumstances. It’s not just an airy-fairy confidence, it’s a contractual confidence.”

WSIB Monday also announced that it has enlisted Angoss Software Corp. as part of a pilot project to integrate predictive analytics with its employer audit and compliance programs.

In 2002, WSIB’s signed a five-year contract with BCE Emergis to develop a Web-based provider billing payment system, which will be up for review in a year.

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