In general, GIS departments are staffed with a mix of developers, system administrators, business analysts, data ‘specialists’ and so forth. Many organisations are now finding that more and more of these specialist spatial competencies (which involve core database skills, web services, a mix of industry software architectures and languages etc) are difficult to come by and even harder to retain within their organisation.
From a delivery point of view, we have found that a hybrid SMO model for GIS support can successfully deliver value and service excellence to the GIS user community. If properly designed and implemented, the SMO can also provide value to the organisation through:
Cost management: Through the SMO model, services are delivered based on clear commercial contracts, that can be accurately budgeted for in financial forecast
Resource management: The SMO model allows peaks and troughs in business, and change in business requirements, to be absorbed by serviceproviders, alleviating the need for a growth and/or reduction internal staff size
Quality control: Quality of service is rigorously monitored and measured to ensure service excellence with enforceable SLA’s providing leverage to negotiate service costs and performance expectations
Strategic positioning: the SMO allows the organisation to be flexible enough to align with future outsourcing or insourcing direction for services.
When designing a GIS support infrastructure, an organisation ultimately needs to decide how to position its own resources – as an internal team specializing in GIS technology support, or a customer-focused team managing the delivery of services from a flexible menu of external service providers.
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