Outsourcing for success: Managed services partnership lets Italian manufacturer focus on growth

Compared to North America, European manufacturers are sometimes slow to see the merits of the wholesale outsourcing of their IT infrastructures. But specialty pump manufacturer Askoll Group has done just that—outsourcing to Hewlett-Packard the responsibility for server and desktop hardware provision, software integration, maintenance, operations, and even some of its IT consulting needs.

01/29/2008


Compared to North America, European manufacturers are sometimes slow to see the merits of the wholesale outsourcing of their IT infrastructures. But specialty pump manufacturer Askoll Group , headquartered in Povolaro di Dueville, Vicenza, Italy, has done just that—outsourcing to Hewlett-Packard the responsibility for server and desktop hardware provision, software integration, maintenance, operations, and even some of its IT consulting needs.

It hasn’t been an overnight change—far from it, in fact, stresses Alessandro Beaupain, shared services manager responsible for information systems, human resources, financial management, administration and logistics at Askoll Holding , the central holding company for the nine businesses in the group.

Having decided a decade ago that shared services offered the most efficient way to provide the 550-employee, [euros] 130 million company with capabilities such as IT, administrative support, financial management, and logistics, he explains, HP plays an increasingly central role in managing the IT infrastructure of the business.
“Outsourcing to a partner with the right skills and capabilities made a lot of sense,” says Beaupain. “Not only would it free us to focus on helping the group grow, but we could avoid the burden of a large and expensive infrastructure.”

As a matter of policy, explains Beaupain, 15 percent of group revenues are ploughed back into research and development, and while this has helped the business build bridgeheads in new application areas for its technology, the capital available for IT investment has been constrained.

The move to an outsourcing relationship with HP in 1997 immediately eased such concerns, Beaupain relates. Not only did the IT giant manage the existing IT infrastructure, but it also undertook various projects to upgrade it—reorganizing the server farm, for example, including an upgrade to Microsoft Windows 2003; and implementing a corporate Storage Area Network (SAN) based on the HP's own StorageWorks 3000 Enterprise Virtual Array product.

Today, says Beaupain, the contract with HP covers an inventory of more than 260 desktop machines—including 40 that are CAD-enabled, about 30 laptop computers, and a server farm including two Microsoft Windows 2003 clusters joined to the corporate SAN, and a further 20 HP ProLiant servers subdivided between the central head office and the peripheral offices.

In addition, says Beaupain, dedicated HP personnel not only manage the environment, but stay close to the company’s changing needs.

“As they’ve worked more closely with us over the years, they’ve helped us redesign and adapt our IT infrastructure,” Beaupain explains. “In effect, they’re delivering not just a service, but a form of ongoing consultancy.”

An example of this, he points out, was Hewlett-Packard’s close involvement in the implementation of the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP suite, progressively implemented over Askoll Group's associated companies between 2004 and 2006. The whole migration process was monitored and coordinated by the Hewlett-Packard staff, which enabled Askoll to reduce the impact of the change on the business while maintaining the highest possible system service levels.

“When we decided on NAV, it was important to choose the best possible consulting and implementation firm to implement it,” says Beaupain. “Hewlett-Packard was the closest to us, and had participated in the software selection process.”



Alessandro Beaupain, shared services manager, Askoll Holding, believes outsourcing to a partner with the right skills and capabilities made a lot of sense for the company.

And the closeness of the working relationship between the two companies has now been endorsed with the signing of a new outsourcing contract—one that recognizes Hewlett-Packard as a Mission-Critical Partner, says Wolfgang Wittmer, HP enterprise server and storage VP for Europe.
“Designed to help meet companies’ most demanding service-level agreements, Mission-Critical Partnerships support the business solutions that have a crucial impact on their bottom-line success,” says WIttmer. “Hewlett-Packard professionals work closely with their staff for effective downtime risk reduction, while a senior service relationship manager oversees the delivery of the services that the business requires, and looks for ways of improving ongoing performance and service quality.”
At Askoll, Wittmer adds, IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) guidelines are being applied with a view to prepare for the challenges of substantial anticipated growth over the next few years.
“Hewlett-Packard HP is a partner that remains a firm and substantial focus for all our future developments,” concludes Beaupain. “Our IT infrastructure is a nerve center for the company, and must not fail, or cause critical situations. Choosing a partner like Hewlett-Packard gives us the ability to rely at all times on highly qualified, competent, and proactive support, guaranteeing us a highly available and reliable infrastructure.”





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Getting ready for industrial IoT; Visualizing the (applied) automation continuum; Preventing VFD faults and failures; Using wireless for closed-loop applications
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.