The objective of the project Sharp Sky Partners was asked to manage was the transformation of all Network Infrastructure for Allianz Life including LAN, WAN, Voice, Video and WiFi. The challenge here here was that Allianz Life had never before completed the implementation of a global infrastructure project.
Sharp Sky Partner’s Role
Sharp Sky Partners had responsibility for managing all client relationships including CIO, CTO, Architects, Project managers and the respective specialists and all the levels of management in between. Sharp Sky Partners also had responsibility for managing a centralized group from Germany who had a very specific if unrealistic schedule they wanted to meet and strategic system integrator partner that grew progressively impatient with delays.
The outcome Sharp Sky Partners achieved was beyond what anyone could have expected - the flawless execution of a complex project without material impact to any part of the Allianz Life business. It was the first global project successfully completed by Allianz Life and due in large part to the remarkable job of diplomacy and technical project management finesse demonstrated by Sharp Sky Partners. I would not hesitate to call upon Sharp Sky Partners again and fully expect to under the proper circumstances.
We were faced with an aging and unreliable iSeries and local area network infrastructure that would not sustain our planned strategic growth. Enhancements needed to be made to our platform and many of our major applications in order to support the business effectively. We needed help to determine if we wanted to continue to maintain the infrastructure in-house or begin to rely on a business partner who focuses on this as their core competency—which would be a radical shift for the company.
Sharp Sky Partner’s Role
We engaged Sharp Sky Partners to assist in developing a strategy, recommendation, and implementation plan for Anchor’s IT Infrastructure Future State. They assessed our current gaps and opportunities in a comprehensive and respectful way, and ultimately recommended we move from an operation managed in-house to a Managed Services Provider. We then worked side-by-side with Sharp Sky Partners to assess, design, plan, test, & migrate the overall Infrastructure. The entire Sharp Sky Partners team played an important role to the project success: Scott Swanson was our Program Manager, Craig Kalschuer served as our dedicated Project Manager and Interim CIO, Kevin Carstens provided MS SharePoint Development and Support, and Cecil Hauri, worked with us on IT and Operations Service Management.
Sharp Sky Partners worked with members of Senior Leadership to understand Anchor’s long- and short-term strategic goals, conducted an analysis of Anchor’s current state, investigated alternative routes for us to take, and recommended a plan. The approach they took in identifying our options was unique; they took the time to get to know us and introduce vendors that could help us achieve not only our strategic goals, but who were also strong cultural fits for us to ensure a successful outcome on all levels. They stayed with us every step of the way once we made our decision to outsource, to help us define our technical and servicing needs and negotiate the new scope of services with our vendors. They drew from the deep expertise within their team as well as their extended network of resources and worked with Anchor staff at all levels within our organization to help us execute on the plan and develop the know-how to maintain the infrastructure long-term.
Our bankers are using current network tools, supported on a reliable and robust infrastructure that we could not have created on our own, and we’re receiving 24/7 support without adding expensive internal staff by taking advantage of the industry-leading technology vendors Sharp Sky Partners knows and trusted. This new approach allows us to focus our technical resources on our critical business applications, and delivering those services to our bankers and our customers in an improved way. We feel we have a sound infrastructure that can be dialed up and down quickly as needed to respond to the changing needs of the organization’s continued growth.