Hornbill Blog

Integrated Service Management at Idox

Engaged employees can help to drive a company's profits. If an organization has productive and satisfied employees, supported by effective service management processes, it has a higher chance of delivering better service to external customers. This week I had an excellent conversation with Martyn Houghton, Problem and Knowledge Manager at Idox about their integrated service management strategy.

A common service management platform

Martyn works in the Public Sector Software division, which provides market-leading solutions to 90% of UK local authorities. Idox is a business with many arms, providing software solutions to multiple industry sectors. With such a diverse solution set, it would be impossible to manage customer requests through a single service desk.  The Idox strategy was to configure separate service desks to meet the needs of each division, using a common service management platform.

Idox had been using a foundational on-premise ITSM tool for Incident and problem management.  Although it worked well, they had hit the limits of the tool and could not introduce additional ITSM processes. They faced a decision to upgrade to the enterprise version of the same on-premise tool, or implement a new solution. In late 2015, Martyn attended an event and listened to customers speaking about Hornbill Service Manager.  Martyn said, “I was impressed by the collaborative features and the multi-lingual capabilities.  We have teams within the wider parts of the group that support global solutions, so the ability to communicate and collaborate in any language was particularly compelling.  We made the decision to implement Hornbill Service Manager in early 2016, but we had to address a major challenge of migrating to this new platform with minimal disruption to our customers. “

Switch-on and go-live

Although Hornbill offers a free 30-day trial and switch-on service to set up the system, Martyn recognised that there was a significant amount of work that Idox would have to do to get their data ready for implementation.  The old system had no concept of a Service Catalog, so Idox had mapped their products to asset records. This structure had to be redesigned and translated into the new Service Catalog, along with information about customers who subscribed to each service.  Over 10,000 customers were using the old Self-Service portal and it was essential that these customers were migrated, so that they could continue to use the new Customer Portal without any disruption to service. Martyn and his team invested the time to prepare and cleanse this data and a Hornbill Product Specialist imported the records.  Idox went live with Hornbill Service Manager over a weekend in June 2016, with 120 services defined within the Service Catalog and all customers set up and ready to use the new Customer Portal.

Focus on the analyst and the customer experience

Martyn makes valid points about the need to focus on the analyst experience. “Our first tier analysts spend their entire day in the system.  The old tool had a forms-based environment, so it took a little time for service desk analysts to get used to the new interface, especially the progressive capture.  Our service desk teams provided valuable feedback on how to streamline the process. This may only save seconds and a couple of mouse clicks, but when every analyst is logging 70 calls per day, this amounts to a huge amount of time saved.  Over 50% off all requests are logged through the Customer Portal and customers are presented with the same series of questions as our analysts, so this feedback has improved the service experience overall.”

Promoting Collaboration and making it stick

Collaboration can transform an organisation, but as Martyn said, “Getting buy-in from your people is critical for success.  Some people will automatically take to a more collaborative way of working, whilst others need more encouragement.  With more people using the collaborative workspaces and sharing information, we’re building a fantastic pool of knowledge that previously would have been locked away in a silo, hidden in an email folder or a network share.”  To increase the focus on collaboration, Martyn communicates with his teams through the workspaces. “My teams joke that I should have a t-shirt that says…Have you put it in the workspace?  However, the benefits are very real, and now, I rarely ever use email for internal communication.  I even record the notes of our weekly and monthly meetings in a workspace, so that we can easily search and find information about subjects we have previously discussed.  Persistence pays off and our people have now become used to searching the workspaces first, before picking up the phone, or sending an email.”

Get your Service Catalog in order

Martyn’s advice to other organisations considering Hornbill Service Manager is to get your Service Catalog in order.  “If you have an existing service catalog, transitioning to Hornbill Service Manager will be easy.  If not, you’ll need to get this in order, before Hornbill’s Product Specialists can spin into high gear with your deployment.  You don’t need everything figured out in detail, just start with a good definition of your services and get this in place with your basic workflows.  Just get started, as it’s so easy to refine and improve this once the system is live, without impacting your service availability.“

There’s never a good time to upgrade your service desk

Although Idox hosts software for their own customers, Martyn still had to convince a few people of the benefits of moving from an on-premise to a SaaS solution.  He explains, “An on-premise solution gives you feeling that you have more control, but the onus is on you to configure the solution and manage software upgrades.  With a heavy workload and other projects taking priority, there’s never a good time to upgrade your service desk.  In the period of time since Hornbill Service Manager went live, we’ve had numerous updates.  With continuous deployment, we can immediately start using new functionality that Hornbill delivers. Whether it’s a major or minor update, it only takes seconds, so we can deploy them quickly and know that within a couple of weeks, there will be new functionality available for us to try.  With a traditional deployment model, and the disruption that it typically entails, that simply wouldn’t be possible.”    

Great service and a thriving community

Martyn was clearly impressed by the service from Hornbill during the switch-on, and since then in production. “The communication, feedback and support from Hornbill have been fantastic.  We’ve received valuable input on the right way to configure the tool and guidance on how to get the most from it.  We’ve used the forums to communicate with Hornbill, and with the number of people contributing to the Hornbill community constantly increasing, there’s more valuable information available each day.” 

Realising the integrated service management strategy

Hornbill Service Manager is currently being used by the Public Sector Software division and for change authorisation for managed service customers.  The Facilities Management Software division is now on-board and other global implementations are planned for the next 12 months for other parts of the group, who will benefit from multi-lingual capabilities, as well as using a common platform. With so many customer facing teams deploying the tool, the next step will be to deploy Hornbill Service Manager for Corporate IT.  Once this is rolled out, Idox will realise its strategy of a common and integrated service management platform for internal and external customers.

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