One of the best things about my job is getting the opportunity to work with great companies who are doing interesting things, and at Hornbill I am really blessed to have such a pro-active community of customers that are willing to share and be part of the Hornbill community. I have recently been working on some integration ideas with Keith Bage over at Leica Microsystems to help them support some automation needs around their very large SAP deployment – that’s still ongoing so don’t have much to say about that just now, but in the mean time I asked Keith if he would be kind enough to give us some insights in to how they are using Hornbill within their organisation globally, this is what he had to say.
Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at Leica?
My name is Keith Bage and I am the Global Application Support Manager at Leica Microsystems. Essentially, I lead all global support activities for Leica’s PSG (Process Support Group) team. Our team is a corporate department responsible for the development, implementation and support of applications such as SAP, Salesforce, and numerous other in house and third-party tools.
In the context of Hornbill, I was responsible for leading the project to implement a new service desk tool across two Leica Operating Companies (Leica Microsystems & Leica Biosystems) globally. This project oversaw the replacement of five previous service desk applications across many IT departments.
What Service Desk tool was in place at Leica before you deployed Hornbill Service Manager?
Prior to our engagement with Hornbill our various IT teams worked with a high degree of autonomy and as such had implemented their own point solutions. The products in use included Frontrange’s ITSM (now part of Ivanti), Spiceworks, an in-house developed solution and several instances of Wonderdesk.
What were the business drivers and reasons for implementing a new solution?
The main driver for change was the need for one centralized IT support portal. Prior to the implementation of Hornbill our internal customers had to access different tools to seek help from their own local IT departments, central application support or other support functions. This caused confusion and some frustration, often resulting in tickets being raised via telephone or email, a difficult situation for our support teams to manage. Hornbill completely removed this problem with a single portal for all types of request, regardless of the responsible service team.
We also wanted to move closer to ITIL best practices and introduce more automation for our processes, and there was of course a real need for global reporting across all departments and operating companies.
What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager?
My first impression was that it had a very clean and modern user interface. Many of the other applications we reviewed appeared somewhat tired and outdated in comparison. I really felt that Hornbill Service Manager took a fresh approach and had some innovative capabilities such as its collaboration and progressive capture features. With regards to the solutions we had previously in place, Hornbill compares very favourably. It is far more feature rich than the majority if not all of the tools we were using and had reviewed.
What other solutions did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager?
We looked at a broad range of products at all levels. This included ServiceNow, Frontrange, RemedyForce, CA’s IT Service Desk and even an open source solution called Combodo. One of our main requirements was the ability to be entirely self-sufficient, we didn’t want to have to engage with consultants to make process changes or design new services which seems to be a common theme with many solutions out there. Hornbill seemed to be doing things very differently in this regard and that approach really suited our needs.
What was your impression of Hornbill during the selection process?
I found Hornbill very easy to deal with. The team at Hornbill were very supportive during pre-sales stages providing demonstrations to different departments and levels within the Leica organization. I found Hornbill to be very open and honest in regard to the applications capabilities in what it could, and sometimes what it couldn’t do. That honesty is quite refreshing and established a good level of trust.
Procurement was straightforward, though given the size of our project we knew that Hornbill’s 30-day switch on offering would not be enough support on its own to get us up and running. To ensure Service Manager met our needs we decided to engage with some extended services from Hornbill which included a three-day focus workshop prior to the thirty-day switch on. This workshop gave us the knowledge and insights we needed and was instrumental in us getting a good grasp of how we could structure our organization to give some level of departmental independence while harmonizing processes and reporting and improving the customer experience.
What would you consider your biggest personal success coming out of the project?
I think my biggest personal success was to be able to standardise processes globally for both the customer and the support teams. The ability for us to now be able to monitor and report on all incidents and service requests throughout the entire organization can’t be overstated. In terms of elevating me personally, the project has certainly given me greater exposure to other global teams, but more importantly the project has brought those teams together and they now work more closely than ever before.
Since you went live with Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone?
Things have gone very well. The implementation process was relatively smooth and painless. If anything, rather than the tool itself it was perhaps ITIL principles that took the most adjustment for us. We had no predefined service catalogue and some of our teams were not well versed in the differences between Incidents and Service Requests for example. In hindsight, perhaps an ITIL basics course would have benefitted some of our teams. We also took the opportunity to revamp a lot of our processes and it is these things that take time.
We had an implementation plan which involved my own team (approximately 30 analysts) piloting the application globally for a month or two before rolling out to our IT teams in Europe, North America and Australia, we then extended that to Japan, China and Korea.
We utilize the service portal almost exclusively (all of our customers are internal) which has been well accepted and it works well for us (though there are some things that could be done to improve this further). We try not to accept emails or telephone calls as a way of raising requests. We have surveyed our users and have had some very positive feedback.
Since our implementation of Hornbill there have been many new features implemented in the solution which have addressed gaps we had highlighted in our pre-switch on workshop and as a result we have improved our processes considerably.
One of our biggest challenges, as it is for many organisations, has been around reporting. Hornbill does a great job of reporting via the request list (especially the personal dashboards) and via the use of measures and dashboards and these are great for individual team members or perhaps a team lead. However, given our size we found it difficult to find a level of reporting that allowed us to dynamically answer questions of our data and drill down into the detail. This has now been vastly improved with our ability to now integrate with Microsoft Power BI, a connector that Hornbill made available earlier this year.
Of course, issues do come up from time to time and support is sometimes needed. I must say I have found Hornbill’s support to be excellent, it is always timely, and very professional.
We have also made great use Hornbill’s community forums where it is easy to exchange ideas and feature requests with other Hornbill customers and Hornbill’s own development team, Hornbill makes a great partner for us.
Can you highlight three things that you love about Hornbill?
- Firstly, when setting out to choose a vendor for our Service desk tool we put a high value on our ability to form a strong and lasting partnership. Hornbill have proven to be a great fit for us - I really love their transparency, openness and honesty.
- Secondly, I love the ability to help shape the feature set of their solution via open dialogue on their community forums. Having so much of the development team actively interacting with the user community is very powerful.
- And finally, I love that Hornbill provide me with all I need to be as self-sufficient as I can be. I can configure the entire system pretty much on my own, I can develop new services, process flows, reporting etc. without the expense or lead-time of engaging with consultants. This is refreshing and empowers me to drive real efficiencies within my organisation which ultimately improves our businesses bottom line.
If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now?
We are now getting some great results from reporting via an integration with Power BI but I would love to see more of this functionality natively within Hornbill Service Manager. The ability to create great looking dashboards is already there but I would love to be able to dynamically switch (pivot) the context of the dashboard and to be able to drill into the detail of the records below.
Is there anything else you would like to mention in relation to Hornbill?
During my time working with Hornbill my experience has been incredibly positive. The pace of change is pretty rapid whilst allowing you to implement (or not) many of the features in your own time. Hornbill’s approach is refreshing. There’s a real thirst to innovate and power forward and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the further development of the product.
Keith and the team at Leica are very progressive and have truly embraced the continuous delivery approach we have adopted. I know that Keith is presently looking at some interesting IT automation initiatives so hopefully he might have a little more to share with us in the near future. Thank you Keith for allowing me to share your story.