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Transforming business services: five steps to success

A bold strategy to transform the quality of business services at AstraZeneca has proved the old adage, 'Fortune favours the brave', for CIO Jon Kirby and his team. A new IS (information services) sourcing solution, driven by Kirby and developed and implemented with support from PA, has delivered a significant uplift in service, reduced costs and eliminated the risks associated with depending on a single supplier.

Driving through this major programme took courage and vision on the part of AstraZeneca. The programme included exiting a single-supplier outsourcing contract mid term, transitioning to a new multi-supplier outsourcing solution within ten months of the request for tender (RfT), and establishing a service ecosystem to promote collaboration among the new outsourcing providers.

Jon Kirby joined PA and over 200 guests from the business services and outsourcing sector at a PA-hosted event to talk about what it was like to direct the programme and to share some of the insights he gained. He identified five critical factors he believes contributed to his team's success in transforming business services:

Be clear on risk

The intense pressure generated by a programme of this nature and scale means it's not always possible to achieve 100% perfection straight away. Is this a risk? Yes. But the greater risk lies in not taking action to address an existing arrangement that is delivering far below this ideal standard. For the short term at least, 80% can be good enough if it's better than what you had before.

Get solid support from the senior team

The decision to break ties with an incumbent mid term will unleash fear and controversy across the business. Make sure you have the leadership team right behind you. Kirby's case to his peers centred on the importance of acting to secure the business services AstraZeneca needs to compete and win in its market, rather than on the cost benefits of change.

Be guided by facts 

When you are trying to do something difficult or unusual, people will often tell you it can't be done. This is rarely a fact and more often an inherited belief. Challenge what you're told and base your decisions on facts. This approach enabled Kirby to prove wrong those who said it was not possible to move from RfT to new outsourcing contracts in six months.

Make leaders accountable

The quality of leadership at all levels of the programme is crucial. Make sure your leaders on the programme are driving towards a common goal for business services and make them accountable for what their teams deliver. 

Pick the right partners

Call in business services experts to fill gaps in your own expertise. Choose people who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get down to work with you. Kirby said the greatest compliment he could pay the PA team was that, after a while, it had been impossible to distinguish them from the AstraZeneca professionals they were working alongside.

Contact the sourcing and procurement team

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