The global pandemic is forcing every industry across the world into a period of sustained uncertainty. The need for large, complex organisations to implement an IT system that can cope with rapidly changing priorities, workload and demands has never been greater. Aggreko, a global company working in power, heating and cooling services, is one such company that has overhauled its IT systems.
With over 6,000 employees, Aggreko has a large frontline IT support team of 40 technicians. Aggreko's Technology Service (ATS) management team recently realised its ageing on-premise IT service management (ITSM) solution was becoming inflexible and no longer fit for purpose. The team had two options: replace the obsolete system with the latest on-premise solution, or overhaul it completely with a cloud-based solution.
Aggreko's ITSM issues stemmed from its existing decade-old on-premise solution, which was unable to grow with the organisation and tackle increasing demands. The ATS team found itself processing more than 7,000 tickets a month and trying to administer over 3,000 incident categories within maintenance windows, leading to increased outages and longer response times. As a result, classifications became decentralised, the quality of data fell and the IT team's ability to make accurate, data-informed decisions was impeded. Attaining efficiency in the service management function, the IT team thought, would lead to the opportunity to begin using accurate data analytics to drive business intelligence, achieve innovation and stay competitive.
A phased approach
After a consultation period, ATS decided the best way to achieve these goals would be to implement the cloud-optimised Ivanti Service Manager, rolled out in three stages.
"We quickly agreed that the new ITSM solution should be cloud-based for smaller management overhead and provide a real-time understanding of IT issues being posed," said Tony Deeb, Service Delivery Manager at Aggreko. "It was essential that the winning solution be deployed out-of-the-box to avoid complexity and with our processes already incorporated. We were keen to show immediate productivity gains with an emphasis on increasing web-based self-service capabilities."
In the first phase of the rollout, Aggreko implemented the Incident, Problem and Self-Service modules`. Prior to taking on a centralised Incident module, technicians had to manually classify incoming tickets into one of over 3,000 different categories. After investigating the process further, ATS discovered first-line support was only using one per cent of these categories, and obsolete and irrelevant categories weren't being removed. With the new system, technicians worldwide are able to log incidents centrally and classify them into 300 verified conditions.
Accurate incident classification means more useful, real-time data, with increased insight and improved operations, can be collected and used to inform strategic decisions. The service desk is now able to distinguish between incidents and requests, which in turn allows ATS to instantly spot incident trends using ticket data, as well as predict and fix those incidents which occur often, rapidly.
The second stage of the rollout used Change Management to centralise change improvements and ultimately include integration of Azure DevOps. Development teams situated globally were set up to access approvals and incidents, standardising change requests in real time. This global access helped alleviate the pressures of ATS logging critical changes in SharePoint files.
Lastly, the third stage is being rolled out with ongoing evaluation, improvement and accreditation activities. Using accurate data insights, Aggreko is now able to map out a three-year formal certification plan with key audit points using the Service Desk Institute's star rating scheme. By moving away from traditional Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for end-users that are difficult to define and establish, Aggreko is able to gauge internal customer satisfaction through an app-based approach incorporating user happiness indicators. Now, users can define their experience by answering only four questions, delivering an experience satisfaction grade between 1 and 5 to ATS.
Other results continue to deliver improvements for Aggreko. In the old system, there was no collaboration between the ITSM and asset management systems across the global estate. The new asset integration gives first-line support a distinct advantage in determining likely issues with auto-population of asset details, including device types, age of machine and software licences.
"When you are a critical support service within the energy industry, it's all about maximising efficiencies," Deeb says. "I'm pleased to report that, so far, the move to cloud-based IT service management with Ivanti has been relatively pain-free. With the new system in place, we see and report a better user experience already, with an above-average score for service desk happiness."
The improvements ATS experienced led to the company rolling the solution out beyond IT and into HR, with the HR team replacing its outdated request process. HR's three global help desks modelled IT's follow-the-sun service levels, and the department was keen to follow the example set by IT. This involved transferring HR-related queries from calls and emails onto its own dedicated and centralised request management system that detailed common employee question areas such as holidays, appraisals and benefits requests.
Businesses are under increasing strain thanks to the current climate, and no more so than those in critical industries such as energy. As Aggreko can attest, overhauling IT systems and migrating to the cloud can provide welcome efficiencies and contribute to the smooth running of all business operations.
Nigel Seddon is VP of Western Europe and MEA at Ivanti