Rain CII Carbon LLC is a leading producer of calcined petroleum coke and a customer of The Aldridge Company Exhaustive review reaffirms that The Aldridge Company offers the best IT services for the value.

In 2012, Rain CII Carbon LLC, a leading producer of calcined petroleum coke (CPC), decided to test the IT services market to ensure they were doing all they could to maximize cost efficiencies and improve IT services performance. Even though The Aldridge Company had been working with Rain CII for nearly six years, it approached the RFP process as an opportunity rather than a threat. The decision to retain The Aldridge Company with a long-term agreement turned out to be an easy one.

Rain CII is an illustration of the global economy, with offices and operating facilities spread across the United States and around the world. The company has headquarters in the U.S. and India, as well as seven facilities in the U.S. and affiliated operations in India and China.

Rain CII’s relationship with The Aldridge Company began at a low point in the company’s history. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina washed through Louisiana, the largest CPC producing region in the world outside of China, leaving desolation and heartbreak. At the time, Rain CII was headquartered in Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish, downriver from New Orleans.

“We were 100 percent unprepared,” Rain CII IT Director Karren Raedisch says. “We had one plant in a flooded area that was inoperable, but our other facilities continued plugging away. But our offices were knocked out. We had to declare force majeure due to our inability to get back on our feet quickly.”

Shortly thereafter, the company made the difficult decision to relocate to the Houston suburb of Kingwood, Texas. Although the move originally was to be temporary, the decision was later made to remain in Kingwood permanently.

“We linked up with The Aldridge Company at a crucial time when we were still in disaster recovery mode,” Raedisch said. “We had moved all IT systems and issued an RFP encompassing everything on the IT spectrum, including data center services and full outsource of IT support. The Aldridge Company was our choice.”

The Aldridge Company quickly got to work implementing a service called Complete IT Management. The Aldridge Company’s IT experts assessed Rain CII’s needs and helped to stabilize the company’s IT systems. Complete IT Management bundles all IT services, including network management and monitoring, desktop support, server management and support, help desk, network security and proactive IT planning and maintenance. The Aldridge Company provides these services under a flat monthly fee.

“It is much more cost effective to utilize The Aldridge Company as an outsourced IT services provider than to handle these same needs internally,” said Raedisch. “I am a cost center, so I have to be a cost saver. Hiring our own IT staff brings minimal value to the company.”

She isn’t alone in coming to this conclusion. Respondents to the Information Week 2012 State of IT Outsourcing Survey were asked to rate outsourcing benefits on a 1-to-5 scale where 5 is “primary benefit.” 67 percent of respondents rated ‘cost savings’ three or higher. Twenty-two percent said cost savings is the primary benefit.

“My job really is to figure out how to bring value to the business,” said Raedisch. “We could do more from an IT perspective, but it just doesn’t fit our business model. The use of mobile technologies is an example of where we proved through some testing that greater mobility and accessibility added value that legitimized the investment.”

Raedisch says they found just the opposite to be true when testing a messaging/chatting application on office desktops. Although it was expected to enable a more dynamic flow of instant communication that could speed up decision making and remove barriers, the application became a nuisance and did not fit the company’s culture. They pulled the plug after a brief test.

“Value is brought into the business through business intelligence and to do that we need a strong foundation, which is where The Aldridge Company comes in,” said Raedisch. “My time is focused on information systems. IT is 100 percent outsourced.”

According to the Information Week 2012 State of IT Outsourcing Survey, CIOs are more comfortable turning over some functions to outsourcers than others. The most outsourced area is application development, cited by 80 percent of survey respondents, followed by application maintenance (74 percent), hardware maintenance and support (61 percent), data center operations (60 percent), network monitoring and support (57 percent), and end user support (53 percent).

Nearly six years into the relationship, Rain CII went back out with an RFP. While pleased with The Aldridge Company’s work, Raedisch and the management of Rain CII wanted to leave no stone unturned in their effort to achieve their business objectives of:

1) Operating as cost efficiently as possible;

2) Improving IT services performance; and

3) Allowing Rain CII to focus on its core business and to accelerate the company’s growth through technologies that enable core business information needs.
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“We developed a scorecard and evaluated all vendors, rating each component by weighted percentages based on what mattered most to us,” said Raedisch.

Rain CII evaluated a total of nine IT service providers on an exhaustive set of 65 separate criteria, each of which was rated as “Nice to Have,” “Desirable,” or “Essential.” Those 65 criteria were then organized into four categories, including facility capabilities, technology and managed services, operations and engagement methodology. Each vendor was then scored on a 1-to-4 scale, where one means, “Does not meet at all,” and four means, “Exceeds requirements.”

“In the end, The Aldridge Company had the best score for the value, which sped up the evaluation and decision process a great deal,” Raedisch said.

As a result of the RFP process, The Aldridge Company drives IT strategy for Rain CII. The Aldridge Company clearly understands Rain CII’s primary interest is the reliability of its IT systems so workers throughout the organization can be more effective every minute of every day.

“The Aldridge Company has set up redundant data centers for mission critical applications, such as our Exchange server, file server and Citrix,” said Raedisch. We have nine facilities that use Citrix as their main application, so any down time would be unacceptable. The Aldridge Company manages it all for us.”

Raedisch has advice for other organizations considering migrating to an outsourced IT service provider:

First look at the cost differences and skill level differences among the IT service providers. This is where value differences are easiest to discover.

Be sure to carefully evaluate the controls that are in place and disciplines in place. You don’t want a provider who will be making it up on the fly.

Be aware that culture change may be needed for your organization. It is a big adjustment to being in the action every minute of every day to being involved at a director level.

Communication is essential. You need a partner that keeps the lines of communications open and updates you regularly on activities, opportunities and concerns. “We have monthly meetings, but technology changes so rapidly that the guidance needs to be ongoing and dynamic,” said Raedisch.

Understand that you are going to still have issues in IT – it is inevitable – but you have a partner for addressing those issues.

“It takes a lot of trust in the partner, but the magic of outsourcing is giving us the ability to focus on those areas where we can be truly great,” said Raedisch. “How The Aldridge Company adapts to our culture is key. We have embraced some of their specifications, because it’s easier, but they spend considerable time understanding us and accommodating our unique needs and approaches.”

Looking back on the entire scope of Rain CII’s relationship with The Aldridge Company, it seems like a lifetime ago that the company was bouncing back following Hurricane Katrina.

“I sleep very well at night now,” Raedisch told us. “With The Aldridge Company onboard, I don’t worry about business continuity and disaster recovery issues anymore.”

About The Aldridge Company

The Aldridge Company is a Houston, Texas-based technology management, consulting and outsourcing company. Founded in 1984, the company brings a winning combination of professional technical expertise, extensive capabilities and a strict focus on the importance of business processes. The Aldridge Company is a leading provider, consultant and integrator of information technology and cloud computing solutions. In 2011, the company was listed as No. 11 on the Houston Business Journal’s Fast Tech 50 list of fastest growing Houston technology companies.

The Aldridge Company provides enterprise-level management of servers, PCs, and networks, coupled with rapid and accurate technical support. In addition, it operates and manages data center facilities offering fully-redundant, secure hosting of servers that cross the spectrum of business disciplines. By offering a broad range of IT solutions in one organization, The Aldridge Company allows clients to benefit from having a single point of contact for the entire IT environment.