university students asking questions

Fast Track to IT Service Management (ITSM) at a Major Canadian University

We think that numbers can often speak for themselves. But, we also know that seeing is believing, so for those of you who are feeling more anecdotally inclined, hopefully, you’ll be inspired by this ServiceNow IT Service Management success story. So, keep reading to learn more about this major Canadian university’s journey with ServiceNow.

The Challenge 

The long road to aligning IT services began in 2012 when the Technology team embarked on a path to adopt basic Information Technology Infrastructure Library [ITIL] processes. First up, they rolled out a new Information Technology Service Management [ITSM] framework and looked for an open source ITIL framework to get their data better connected.

While these initial steps met some of the needs, the University soon realized their challenges were too big for open source solutions, which were costly and overwhelming for the Technology Service Group to support. They began to look for an enterprise-level solution with a foundation in ITIL, that would scale to meet the University’s growing needs, standardize their approach to IT service, and require limited resources for future operation and maintenance.

Now that the University Technology Group had decided on their path, they faced a variety of hurdles to shift to their new ITSM and ITIL strategies. The largest challenges included:

  1. Timing: The University required rapid deployment of the services.  With students and faculty returning to campus for the fall semester, there were only ten weeks between kick off of the services and going live for their Phase I ServiceNow rollouts. This time constraint left very little room for error.
  2. Getting their arms around University IT processes: Because of the IT Services group needed to consolidate university systems and processes, they needed to deliberately identify and capture opportunities to automate repetitive tasks – an impressive amount of work given the sheer number of functions served by the IT team.
  3. Maintaining customer support: Priding themselves on their customer service and outstanding user experience, UIST was sensitive to maintaining a 90%+ customer satisfaction rating throughout the course of the project, especially with the growing set of services that they brought to the community.

With these challenges in mind, the University chose ServiceNow for their ITSM platform in March 2014, and (after a rigorous two month RFP process) began their implementation process with ServiceNow Gold Partner Acorio during their Summer break.

The Solution

The University launched their ServiceNow journey during their Summer break with an eye toward providing customers enriched functionality, managing costs and maintaining flexibility for future expansion.

The project teams communicated continuously as they walked through five pillars of their project plan:

  1. Secure executive commitment and participation: Critical to their success in such a short timeframe was ensuring executive sponsorship for the project. In this case, the Associate Executive Director of Information Services and Technology was highly involved, attended nearly every meeting (held weekly) from presales to go live, spearheading the project, aligning resources and helping the team make fast decisions.
  2. Establish a shared resourcing and governance model. At the outset of the project, the team assigned those responsible for making critical decisions. Throughout the course of the ten-week project, those decision makers committed to remaining informed and staying available for quick responses via a host of contact points, including; daily scrums, weekly project team meetings, weekly sprints, and expert subject matter expert demos for power users or stakeholders not consistently involved in development. This focus on consistent communication served to keep all the participants updated and excited on the project, and served as the recipe for the project’s success.
  3. Communicate! Both Acorio and the USIT team took joint responsibility for project management and daily communication. By dividing and conquering — Acorio handled the functional and technical expertise, while the University focused on the subject matter – they ensured that the entire team understood the project status, and prevented any minor issues from causing delays.
  4. Identify and prioritize requirements, being sure to address the UIST challenges. With such an accelerated timeline, it would be redundant to say that the highest value items with the shortest development time were pursued first.  However, the team also assembled a well-documented backlog of work both from requirements gathering and sprint-and-shows.
  5. Embrace a customer-first mentality: To make sure the University’s 65 teams would use their new portal, they paid careful attention to their ServiceNow UX. The team developed a branded end-user portal, which they called the “Genius Bar,” and enabled self-service functions to allow their internal clients to find better answers without having to call the help desk.

The Results

The new ServiceNow portal and full solution stayed true to its original timeline, successfully going live in an astonishing 50 days from the initial engagement, an “amazing accomplishment,” according to the Executive Director of Information Services and Technology.

Using their new ITSM and ITIL processes, the University is responding to students, staff, and faculty with better service through increased efficiency in ticket processing and consistent interactions with their Service Desk.  According to the University’s Director of Service Operations, “ServiceNow is capable of furthering IT consolidation, offering us the flexibility to accommodate our diverse needs.  We are able to onboard new tenants quickly due to the segregation of data, and have a list of non-IT units scheduled to be onboarded into the tool in 2015.”

As a result of the accomplishments and success of this accelerated engagement, the University was recognized as ITIL Project of the Year at Pink Elephant’s 2013 Annual ITSM conference.  The University has since expanded its ServiceNow implementation into mobile device management, asset management, project management and software development lifecycle (SDLC).  Other ServiceNow applications are on the near term roadmap.

ServiceNow ITSM University Portal on laptop