Case Study – Report: Rain CII RTP

Industrial Producer’s RFP Confirms Aldridge is Best Choice for IT Outsourcing

In 2012, Rain CII Carbon, a leading producer of calcined petroleum coke based in Kingwood, Texas, issued a request for proposal (RFP) to the IT outsourcing market. The company, which operates offices and facilities around the world, wanted to ensure they were doing all they could to maximize cost efficiencies and improve the performance of the IT services they were receiving.

Rain CII had been working with Aldridge, a Houston-based managed IT services company, for almost six years. Aldridge understood that self evaluations by organizations like Rain CII are a matter of due diligence and appreciated the opportunity to re-win the company’s business, which Aldridge first earned in 2007 after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Triage in the Aftermath of Katrina

In August, 2005, Katrina washed through New Orleans. Many companies in and around the city were jeopardized, including Rain CII, which was headquartered at the time in Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish.

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

Shortly thereafter, the company relocated to the Houston suburb of Kingwood.

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

Aldridge quickly got to work. Aldridge’s IT experts assessed Rain CII’s needs and helped to stabilize the company’s IT systems. Aldridge provided all IT services, including network management and monitoring, desktop support, server management and support, help desk, network security, and proactive IT planning and maintenance.

Over the next several years, Rain CII adopted many of Aldridge’s IT services and implemented Aldridge’s comprehensive vision for a new IT environment that was built on performance, stability, and efficiency.

A Due Diligence Self Evaluation and Request for Proposal

In 2012, nearly six years into her relationship with Aldridge, Raedisch felt it was time for Rain CII to evaluate its IT successes. She issued a RFP to the IT outsourcing market to ensure the company was doing everything it could to achieve its business objectives.

Raedisch wanted to make sure Rain CII was operating as cost effectively as possible, ensure the continued improvement and performance of IT services, and maximize the company’s focus on its core business while accelerating its growth by fully supporting core business information needs.

“We had been pleased with Aldridge for years. The RFP was not about trying to replace them as our IT outsourcing partner,” Raedisch said. “It was designed to ensure that we had exactly what we needed to help us achieve our long term goals.”

As part of the RFP, Rain CII developed a scorecard to evaluate all vendors. The scorecard rated each component by weighted percentages based on what mattered most to the company.

Nine IT service providers, including Aldridge, were evaluated on 65 separate criteria. The criteria were rated on a three-point scale, from “nice to have” to “desirable” to “essential.” The 65 criteria were organized into four categories, including facility capabilities, technology and managed services, operations, and engagement methodology. Each vendor was then scored on four-point scale, from “does not meet at all” to “exceeds requirements.”

Rain CII Stays With Aldridge

The RFP revealed that Aldridge had the best score for the value. “Their performance sped up the evaluation and decision process a great deal,” Raedisch said. “At the end of the day, the best IT company for us was the one we already had.”

As a result of the RFP process, Aldridge helped identify areas of improvement in Rain CII’s IT environment, including minimizing downtime by implementing and managing redundant data centers for mission critical applications like Exchange server, file server, and Citrix.

Today, Aldridge continues to drive IT strategy and provide complete IT outsourcing needs for Rain CII.

“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,” Raedisch said. “How Aldridge adapts to our culture is key. We have embraced many of their specifications but they spend considerable time understanding us and accommodating our unique needs and approaches.”

Advice for Selecting an IT Outsourcing Partner

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

  • Cost and expertise — Consider the cost differences and skill level differences among the IT service providers. This is where value differences are easiest to discover.
  • Internal controls — Carefully evaluate the controls and disciplines that are in place. Avoid providers who will be making it up on the fly.
  • Culture fit — Be aware that a culture change may be needed for IT outsourcing to work effectively for your organization. To go from being in the action every minute of every day to being involved at a director level can be a big adjustment.
  • Communication — You need a partner that keeps the lines of communications open and updates you regularly on activities, opportunities, and concerns. Even with monthly meetings, technology changes so rapidly that the guidance needs to be ongoing and dynamic.
  • Perspective — Problems with IT are inevitable, no matter how good your IT outsourcing partner is. But understand that while you can’t control all your issues before they begin, you can control the partner you choose for addressing those issues.