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IBM – Improved efficiency and flexibility at worldwide level

“Our goal was to improve efficiency and flexibility in ITSM for the customer at a worldwide level. At the same time costs had to be reduced by the use of a single tool. They recommended ServiceNow, an innovative ITSM SaaS solution.” Piet Hoens Project Manager

IBM has been responsible for an efficient ITSM Organisation at one of its clients, an international and strongly decentralised pharmaceutical company in Switzerland with branches in 150 countries. When IBM embarked on this assignment, it didn’t take long to discover the bottlenecks that were standing in the way of good service provision. For example, the tool landscape was complex and fragmented, and different tools with overlapping functionality were in use.

In addition, the Configuration Management DataBase (CMDB) was no longer adequate for the functionality requirements and many operational requests had to be processed manually. As a result, work on process improvements could not be carried out effectively. The problems were tackled energetically in collaboration with Fruition Partners using tooling from ServiceNow. A complex and far-reaching, but successful project, which Project Manager Piet Hoens and Lead of Global Service Management units, Ad van der Staak of IBM, look back on with satisfaction. “Just to give you an idea, our client used to work with a separate configuration tool, a change tool and even a change approval tool”, says Piet at the outset. “So we had to continually make detours when executing the work in order to record the implemented changes in other systems. That resulted in mismatches, old data and confusion. The situation was perfectly understandable, however. You have to remember that the growth of this client is mainly based on multiple acquisitions and that it is in fact a large collection of separate and partially autonomous organisations. Setting up a global service organisation in an environment like that is a huge challenge.”

Improving efficiency and flexibility

“Originally, only a local contract was involved”, Ad continues. “That was expanded to a global contract after a while. So while the assignment inherently stayed the same, the scope, and therefore complexity, increased enormously. We had to deal with more than 70 countries worldwide, all with their own tools and processes. Our goal was to improve efficiency and flexibility in ITSM for the client at a worldwide level. At the same time, costs had to be reduced by deploying a single tool with all the required functionality, i.e. Incident Management, Problem Management, Request Management and Configuration Management, including a good CMDB. Furthermore, we wanted to eliminate fragmentation and make the processes more transparent for the client by reducing the number of interfaces to other sources and tools. We took a major first step in the right direction with Fruition Partners.”

Off the shelf

“After receiving the order, the first thing we did was to take a good, long look at all the available ITSM tools in the market. Obviously, as IBM we have our own ITSM tools, but they were not fully suitable for this customer at that time. When you do business as a partner, it’s important to be honest with your customer. We knew Fruition Partners through their work for one of our customers in the banking sector and asked them for advice. Fruition Partners is a true ITSM specialist with combined knowledge of both processes and tools. After analysing the situation, they recommended the use of ServiceNow, an innovative ITSM SaaS solution. It soon became clear that this was indeed the best solution in functional terms. Its integral character offers significant advantages. Our approach focused on implementing ServiceNow in ‘off the shelf’ form as far as possible and only making modifications that were absolutely necessary. We organised special process workshops with that goal in mind. We played a leading role as the main contractor and also had final decisionmaking authority. At the end of the process, Incident Management, Change Management, Configuration Management and to some extent Request Management had been reconfigured and realigned to each other. In addition, service levels were defined and a user portal was created, which makes the ITSM environment much faster and more convenient for users.”

Strictly regulated environment

Even so, the innovative nature of ServiceNow also presented unavoidable challenges. “Not because of the system itself, but because of the customer environment”, says Piet. “The pharmaceutical industry is a highly regulated environment, which does not easily lend itself to the implementation of innovative solutions. Furthermore, clients’ involvement in the project became much more significant because of this, understandably of course, but this also made things somewhat more complex. For example, documents describing in detail how the system had been configured and where the systems were located had to be supplied to the client. That wouldn’t normally be a problem, but in the case of an SaaS solution in the cloud, identifying a server’s serial number is a great deal more difficult. Those are exactly the things you don’t want to know in a cloud. However, rules are rules and the client didn’t dream them up; they are imposed by the supervisory authority, the Food & Drug Administration. At the end of the day, more than 100 documents and 2000 signatures were required before the whole thing could go live. Fruition Partners always gave us excellent support during that difficult validation process and even carried out activities that were not in their brief. Their deployment of two test coordinators was particularly impressive. Because the test procedures are also complex and extensive in a regulated environment. But everybody was strongly committed to delivering the product properly, including the validation, both on the part of our people and the seven Fruition Partners employees who were involved. And then of course, the sky’s the limit. The collaboration was perfect and everybody worked as a single team. In spite of the compliance complexities described above, we had everything up and running within a year.”

Objectives achieved

“Although the administrative impact was significant, one could say that the technical implementation went perfectly. The tool is now used worldwide by 3500 users, to everybody’s entire satisfaction. The objectives have been achieved in cost terms as well, and that’s obvious. Things run much more smoothly. We have eliminated manual work and the flow of forms between submitting a request and execution. That is all fully automated now. For example, users can now submit change requests directly in ServiceNow. And when you have so many users, a faster process really delivers in terms of time gains. There is more cohesion, better compliance and higher quality in terms of data and the delivered services. In addition, Fruition Partners has developed a training course for IBM and clients’ employees. Participation in this training course was conditional to being allowed access to the new environment. Fruition Partners also gave a number of these training courses to IBM personnel, in Argentina among other locations. And just how satisfied the client is with the end result is perhaps best indicated by this quote, made by one of the program managers:  "With ServiceNow, creating an incident is now easier than ordering a book from Amazon’.”

[Case study Fruition Partners]