UHN, HP discover harmony

Outsourcing relationships often begin as small engagements that gradually grow into strategic parternships. A perfect example of this model is the teaming of Hewlett Packard (Canada) Co. with the Toronto-based University Health Network.

Scott Collinson, national business development director for Hewlett-Packard (Canada) in Toronto, said HP Canada’s work with University Health Network (UHN) began seven years ago as a simple out-tasking relationship that involved such things as service desk support and some onsite support.

But over time, that began to evolve into a partnership that is now more strategic and proactive in scope.

UHN is made up of Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital.

The strategic relationship now in place has HP Canada taking on infrastructure and data centre support, plus having onsite HP Canada personnel who work directly with UHN’s many IT teams to help the healthcare service provider meet its business and medical goals through IT investments.

Roberto DiCiano, account delivery manager with HP Canada in Toronto works directly with UHN’s IT teams, coordinating with them on how best to use internal resources and HP’s technical teams, solutions and expertise to meet UHN’s IT project goals.

“This is a very strategic relationship,” DiCiano said. “We are in all of UHN’s meetings, we know when their (IT) projects start, where those projects need to go, what the deadlines are and how we can make (HP Canada’s) teams work as one unit with UHN’s IT teams to achieve those goals.”

One such project was to implement a set of hardware, application and data storage and retention standards throughout UHN’s facilities. This includes setting standards for all laptop configurations and storage servers, e-mail mailbox sizes and server level support.

“We are actually working right now, adding a new organization called Toronto Critical Care to UHN,” added DiCiano. “Toronto Critical Care had its own IT department and network, and UHN wants to leverage Toronto Critical Care’s services and integrate its infrastructure with UHN’s.”

DiCiano said having HP Canada personnel like him working closely with a client’s IT team and consulting with the organization’s board makes for a better outsourcing relationship, one that more closely matches the business needs of the client.

“When you are sitting in the back office (off-site) and something goes down, your reaction, impact and priority is not as keen as if you are there on-site,” DiCiano continued. “If you go into an emergency room and find the printer cannot print, that is a totally different situation than if it happened at HP’s headquarters. If a printer does not print there, you have some 20 other printers to print to. Here, you don’t have that luxury and you have to adapt to that.”

DiCiano said at a recent board meeting with UHN, he proposed increasing the health care provider’s levels of data protection and retention, beyond even the recommended levels. Because hospitals handle and produce large volumes of sensitive and private health information, the storage and security requirements are even higher than those adopted by many businesses.

Collinson said the ability to adapt an outsourcing relationship, adding services or upgrading support to meet the changing needs of a client is what will make long-term outsourcing relationships successful in the long run. A fixed long-term contract is not going to cut it anymore.

“Unless outsourcers start bringing more flexibility to their customers, there is not much of a reason to outsource.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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