Axon's secret weapon - clarity

New contract writing tool gives system integrator the edge

Systems integrator Axon has a secret weapon up its sleeve in the battle for market share and so far it seems to be working.

Axon recently won the contract to supply and support desktop services to Air New Zealand after a fierce battle with incumbent integrator Gen-i. Despite Gen-i halving its bid, Air New Zealand opted to go with Axon in a win worth an estimated $5 million.

Axon managing director Matt Kenealy wouldn’t be drawn on whether Sitecare, Axon’s new contract development tool, played a part or not but said Air New Zealand had been shown it.

Sitecare is the culmination of 20 years’ understanding of the outsourcing business model, says Kenealy.

“Basically it allows us create a contract specifically for a customer, complete with service level definitions, in a matter of minutes.”

Sitecare allows Axon staff to sit down with a prospective client and to work through both sides’ expectations of any contract. Issues like which servers are to receive top priority for emergency response in the event of a failure are clearly spelled out and Axon general manager Scott Green says CIOs he’s dealt with have been delighted.

“They get to see exactly what they’re paying for and can see, often for the first time, exactly where their outsourcing dollar is going.” Axon is now running its existing contracts through Sitecare to produce a clearer picture of where the customer is spending its money, says Kenealy.

“We’ve had one customer whose CFO called me to let me know we’d missed a service level agreement during an outage and I was able to tell him that we hadn’t missed it and that that was something that wasn’t covered by our contract. We then went through the contract and discovered his business had changed and moved on from where it was when we signed the original agreement.” Kenealy says being able to move the terms and conditions to match the business is what Sitecare is all about.

“Customers aren’t interested in whether this server or that server is up and running – they want to know whether their business is up and running and whether this outage will stop them from working.”

Sitecare also allows Axon and its customers to re-work the contract in short order should the customer require it. Green says it can offer extended reporting on particular issues should a customer need it or allow Axon to quickly tell a customer about resourcing for any short term changes that are introduced.

“If they’ve got a short term project, for example, that will need extra resourcing. We put the numbers in and can tell them there and then exactly what it will cost to support.”

The document that Sitecare produces is an extensive look at every aspect of each point of the agreement between Axon and its customer. Details like response times are spelled out as are the requirements on the customer’s side to allow Axon to meet its agreed targets.

Kenealy says the recent turmoil in the integrator business space, with Telecom buying both Gen-i and Computerland and TelstraClear buying Sytec has been good for Axon.

“Suddenly we’re being included on short lists for contracts and actively sought out by companies putting out tenders. If they want a local integrator with experience then they include us and that’s been fantastic.”

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