To begin with, Optimal Usability had a sense of unease about the quality of the IT support they were receiving.
CEO Trent Mankelow says the company felt their IT support provider wasn’t up to par. For example, the VOIP system they were paying for never worked properly and they were having some on-going issues with their network. “We weren’t sure if it was them, or if our expectations were unrealistic. But to be honest, things weren’t working from a relationship level right down to their levels of responsiveness and general ineptness with the work.”
To get some clarity, Optimal Usability retained Richard Cheeseman from Mobile Strategy to conduct an audit of their technology set-up, and the service they were receiving.
“The audit showed us that our IT provider was not doing some of the basics we were paying for and was not living up to their contract. For example, they supplied us with consumer grade hardware when we needed something more robust, and they had not documented our network and set-up as agreed either. All round it was not a good story.
“Richard presented the results very professionally and it quickly became clear that we were dealing with cowboys. Essentially the audit delivered evidence to support this feeling of unease that we already had.
“Richard’s audit was very professional and very thorough. It wasn’t about bagging our IT Supplier, but about showing us what wasn’t working and why,” says Trent.
Richard also presented Optimal Usability with several solutions.
“When Richard did the audit it was as an independent, as someone with no skin in the game. However it seemed to us that the logical progression was for him to deliver the solution.
“I think he was initially embarrassed because he had never conducted the audit with intention of becoming our supplier, but we could see it was the best outcome,” says Trent.
It was at that time that the idea for Lume Ltd – an independent inside-out sourcing company – was conceived by Richard Cheeseman.
Lume Ltd was promptly hired by Optimal Usability to effectively co-ordinate a number of technology suppliers in providing solutions in areas such as the IT network and the VOIP system.
Lume Ltd would be the single point of contact.
“We wanted a virtual chief information officer who could manage suppliers behind the scene, making sure we get good deals and good service – I didn't want to be herding cats or to have my management team focussing on it either.
“At the size we are, employing our own CIO doesn’t make sense – even strategically it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We don't have things like head of human resources or IT because we prefer to focus on what we are really good at rather than the peripherals,” says Trend.
As a result, Lume Ltd works with Optimal Usability from the inside – like an in-house IT manager – helping with governance, independent advice and management of the companies that supply their IT support and equipment.
“It has been really good so far. Because of our previous bad experience, I regularly ask the team for updates and comments and they keep coming back to us on how responsive the Lume team is.
“If we report a problem, we know it is going to be resolved and they give us regular feedback and communication on how things are progressing. It helps us feel more in control of our technology.
“Lume is very good at communicating, and is very responsive, and that is one area a lot of IT vendors fall down on.”