Acrodex lands 7-year deal with Alberta government

Edmonton-based IT services provider Acrodex Inc. has landed a seven-year contract valued at over $70 million with the Government of Alberta to provide centralized desktop management services for public service employees at all 24 ministries across the province. 

The contract is aligned with Alberta’s “one government” approach (also referred to as the “one enterprise” approach) mandated by Premier Ed Stelmach when he took office in 2007 and spearheaded by Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Service Alberta

Part of this particular contract deals with all of the IT support for desktop computers across the government, said Klimchuk. This is “a win for government” and “a win for employees too,” she said. “It’s a really efficient way of doing business.” 

“There are 24 government ministries, so with Service Alberta being responsible for the IT within government and supporting other departments, it is really important that we have a consistent approach, that people know what is expected and that all the departments are on the same playing field,” she said.

It’s also about “communicating better between departments, because of the cross-ministry initiatives that we are all involved in,” Klimchuk said.

Previously, the ministries arranged their own technology support by hiring staff or contract services, she said. “I guess you could say it was a bit of a piecemeal approach,” she said.

“It’s going to reduce complexity, duplication, and also reduce the varied standards that are in some departments, so it means that everyone is on the same page and it’s a level playing field for all, which means again, that employees will be able to do their work easier,” she said.

“Being the Minister responsible for procurement, it’s really important to me that doing business with government we have a very open and transparent process when projects are tendered and it’s about getting the best value for the taxpayer’s dollar,” said Klimchuk.

Roughly two-thirds of Alberta’s ministries are ready to transition to the new architecture, but the goal is to have all 24 on board, said Cameron Traynor, communications director for Service Alberta.

The statement of work that came with the agreement is broken into 20 high-level categories, said John Abrahamson, senior partnership executive at Acrodex. Roughly 2,000 activities and responsibilities are outlined between Acrodex and the government in terms of who does what, he said.

Acrodex has two main roles: centralized services (desktop management) and distributed services (worksite management). “The more interesting work for us is the centralized services, and in that one of the fundamental things is image management,” said Abrahamson, who is overseeing the Service Alberta account.

Another part of the agreement is transformation services, he said. “We will look at different aspects of improvement in a couple of ways – improvement to their technology environment and improvement to our service,” he said.

Acrodex has proposed the government look at thin-client architecture, a utility computing model and moving to a structured replacement program, said Abrahamson. “They’ve declared they are going to look at product standardization, both on hardware and software,” he said.

“We are rolling out to the ministries as they come on board to the Service Alberta program,” said Doug Johnson, manager of marketing and communications at Acrodex.

Step 1 is standardizing the ministrieson the Service Alberta architecture. In Step 2, “we pick them up once they are in that standardized environment,” said Abrahamson.

The centralized services went live in February and the distributed services will start in April, May and June.

Roughly 50 Acrodex employees have been dedicated to the Service Alberta account, which “will grow over time as the other half of the ministries come on,” said Abrahamson.

Acrodex’s experience is largely with the private sector, but the company did have a contract with one department in the province a couple years ago, which provided a basis for understanding the environment and the transition they were planning, he said.

Abrahamson said the standardized service will bring benefits to public service employees, such as high availability of their desktops and quick responses to anything that breaks. “There should be productivity gains within the public service from the support structure,” he said.

As the government proceeds with its improvement agenda on standardizing hardware and software, this will drive a lot of cost efficiencies for the government as a whole, he said.  

Russ Conwath, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., said the contract speaks to “good things” in general. “One, they’ve hired a Canadian company to outsource their IT desktop management services, which I think most of us should be very, very happy about,” he said.

“The second thing that makes me pleased is that the Alberta government has seen fit to sort of rationalize their needs in terms of IT, and in particular, IT desktop management services,” he said.

Conwath sees Alberta taking a “holistic approach” to a shared services model. This gives the government the best deal in terms of cost and a single, consistent service provider, he said.

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur 

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