NCR keeps Qantas despite rocky performance

NCR keeps Qantas despite rocky performance

NCR will retain its place in the Qantas desktop and network outsourcing contract, notwithstanding reports of poor performance and repeatedly failing to meet its service-level agreements (SLAs).

The global services company is sub-contracted through Telstra's enterprise services division to provide worldwide end user support for the airline in a break-fix capacity.

Telstra's chief of business sales, Mike Foster, said the lead contractor has "no intention of replacing NCR at this stage". He added that the performance issues were an anticipated result of taking over the management of 17,000 devices.

"We're happy with the way the SLAs are moving," said Foster. "We've put additional health checks in place and week on week we're improving."

NCR's global span proved its unlikely saviour in this case. Qantas CIO Fiona Balfour said when it comes to the kind of function NCR performs, there aren't too many players to choose from.

"Desktop outsourcers are by far the hardest to manage. It's the kind of thing where you don't need a person there full-time, but suddenly you'll need a number of people in rapid succession," she said.

Balfour admits that "transition issues" were expected, especially since loose ends remain from NCR's acquisition of Memorex Telex, a small services firm and the avenue by which it gained entry to the Qantas account in the first place.

Meanwhile, competitors are using the missed SLAs as an excuse to muscle in on the deal, with reports suggesting that Unisys has offered itself as an alternative. There is nothing to indicate that Telstra would entertain such an offer since NCR is heavily entrenched in the airline sector worldwide.

The longevity of Sydney-based systems integrator Senteq in the Qantas deal is also under review, this time from NCR itself. Senteq's slice of the contract, an estimated $100,000 a month, was novated to NCR in July when the former went into administration and was subsequently purchased by National Telecoms Group (NTG).

The transfer has had little real impact to date. Senteq continues to operate in the Qantas account although it reports to NCR rather than to Telstra directly. However, this arrangement is unlikely to continue beyond December, according to Eduardo Piriz, NCR's account director for Telstra.

While he would not offer a point-blank admission that Senteq would be taken off the account, Piriz said that NCR has hundreds of staff and duplication was inevitable.

Bound by non-disclosure agreements, Senteq's only response was to say that "things were going well".

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