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SPOTLIGHT: City of York Council – Taking ICT to the next level

Patrick Bolger -
SPOTLIGHT: City of York Council – Taking ICT to the next level

This week I had a chat with Philippa Smith, at City of York Council, who kindly agreed to answer some questions about the progress they have made since implementing Hornbill.

  • Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at York?

My name is Philippa Smith (Phil to all my colleagues) and I am the ICT Systems Support Team Leader at City of York Council (CoYC). I lead a team of skilled systems analysts in administering the critical corporate systems and applications here at CoYC. Our primary objective is to ensure that the requirements of each directorate within the Authority are met. We do this by taking responsibility for operational support, client liaison, systems security and resilience and by managing change to the Council's corporate and directorate ICT systems. It is important that we establish strong working relationships with our customers and suppliers, so that we can improve operational working effectiveness and ensure that the Council’s frontline service needs are catered for.

  • Which Service Desk tool was in place at York before you deployed Hornbill Service Manager?
    Before switching to Hornbill Service Manager, we were using Hornbill’s on-premise product, Supportworks.

  • What were the business drivers and reasons for implementing a new solution?
    Although our previous solution, Supportworks, had served us well, we undertook a review with an ITSM consultant, who spent time with process owners, service desk management and IT representatives, gathering information to develop a better understanding of the IT deliverables. This provided a roadmap for how CoYC could improve, prior to entering into a new financial year, and beyond into Continual Service Improvement.

  • What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager?
    My first impression was…Brilliant! We wanted to deliver an intuitive, modern service management experience to our IT Service Desk staff and customers, which was easy to configure, and Hornbill ticked all those boxes.

  • What other solutions did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager?  
    We had a good relationship with Hornbill, and as the incumbent supplier, they were able to offer a migration from Supportworks to Hornbill Service Manager, which gave us everything we needed at a price that delivered value for money.

  • What was your impression of Hornbill during the selection process?
    The quality of Hornbill’s response was very good, and that quality was maintained throughout the product demonstrations. The proposal came in at a price that delivered value for money, so we quickly identified Hornbill as our preferred supplier.

  • What would you consider your biggest personal success coming out of the project?
    The new self-service portal allows our customers to help themselves at any time, so ICT is always open for business. Overall, adoption has been very good, but there will always be a few people that prefer to pick up the phone or send us an email. However, we are constantly delivering new self-service capabilities that make it easier for our customers to interact with us, and that is encouraging greater adoption.

  • Since you went live with Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone?
    We went live with incident, service request and self-service. We are also using problem and release management, but it’s just the out-of-the-box processes, so we have to tailor those to reflect our way of working.

    Since going live, we have configured our change management processes, and just when we needed it, Hornbill introduced new features that made it much easier to manage our catalog items. We are continuously developing it and keeping an eye out for new releases and features that we can use. With the old tool, this would have meant doing an upgrade, and dealing with all the pain that this typically entails. However, with Hornbill, we can now deploy updates and new features with a single click, which is a massive advantage.

    As part of the implementation, Hornbill transferred all the skills and knowledge we need to take full ownership, so we can get on with configuring the tool ourselves. As a local authority, we must save money wherever we can, so having ownership and complete control when configuring the tool is incredibly important. We’re now keen to deploy release management and are getting our processes in order, so that we can configure it to support the way that we work. We have signed up to the Premier Success Plan, which give us access to Hornbill’s Product Specialists whenever we need a bit of extra help.

    For us, it was vital to procure a tool that supported our policy of Continuous Service Improvement, and so far, Hornbill has certainly delivered. We are continuously streamlining existing processes, and adding new services to support our business, as we effect the ‘channel shift’ that enables our customers to do more via the self-service portal.

  • Can you highlight three things that you love about Hornbill?
    • Intuitive to use and manage. The configurable views and searches are excellent
    • Reporting is a big improvement. It’s much easier to produce accurate statistics and present information to the management team to support better decision making
    • Responsive to change and easy to update.
  • If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now?
    One current limitation is that the searches for information are not automatically returned in date order, although I understand that this feature will be available soon.

  • Is there anything else you would like to mention in relation to Hornbill? 
    Hornbill is very stable, and if something does go wrong, it is fixed very quickly. Hornbill staff are very responsive, and the customer service is excellent. The resources on the wiki, and the help available through the Hornbill Community are excellent.

    We trust the quality of the regular upgrades that Hornbill delivers. With other systems, exhaustive (and exhausting) testing must be done before an upgrade is promoted to the live environment. However, with Hornbill, all that heavy lifting is done for us, so we can take a ‘light touch’ approach and get on with the more important work of supporting our business.

    We are more than happy with Hornbill. It has allowed us to take ICT to the next level. There is so much work going on within the Council at present, with upgrading, replacing and procuring new systems, and I am keen to explore anything that I can do to make life easier for our ICT teams. By integrating Hornbill with other core systems, we can automate our processes to reduce unnecessary work and eliminate repetitive tasks; not just in ICT, but across several other areas of our business. Our Children’s Services team are currently using Hornbill and we are always looking to see how Hornbill can support other business areas, so we have lots of work to do, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for ICT to deliver real value.

Year after year, we see ‘demonstrating value’ ranked as one of the greatest challenges that IT organisations face. Over the last couple of decades, ITSM has enabled us to solve so many of the challenges that beleaguered us for years. Yet, outside of IT, our colleagues continue to struggle with same issues. If you want to deliver value, get serious about Enterprise Service Management. It is the greatest opportunity for IT, since IT, and I’m pleased to see that this is now being recognised by so many of our customers.

Thank you, Philippa, for sharing your story.


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