Quality assurance with EcholoN - ITIL in practice
With the aim of aligning IT service management with the ISO-20000 quality standard, in 2014 GIA Informatik AG embarked on a search for an ITIL-capable IT service management solution that would support the changeover process in terms of system and process.
The existing help desk software of the Swiss IT service provider was neither able to map future requirements, nor was it expandable or updatable.
With the EcholoN Service Portal from mIT-solutions, the company finally found a solution that has extensive ITIL process templates, allows convenient workflow control and at the same time has a central integration platform for connecting external systems. GIA Informatik has thus laid the foundation for the sustained optimization of the service organization and for the certifications according to ISO-20000 and ISO-27001, which the company successfully completed in 2017.
GIA Informatik AG has been successfully on the market in about 50 countries worldwide since 1946 and employs around 2,000 people. It is a leader in IT services for the Muller Martini Group, based in Hergiswil, in the Swiss canton of Nidwalden. Muller Martini is the world leader in the graphics industry in the development, production and distribution of postpress machines and equipment. Development and operation of a complete solution in the areas of ERP (SAP Partner), IT services with own cloud infrastructure and product development (PTC Partner).
Lack of update and upgradeability of the legacy system
As an outsourcing service provider for more than 150 companies with several thousand users, the IT service tool is mainly used to manage and control the incidents of external customers. With increasing growth in recent years and the addressing of new markets, especially in the upper and large customer segment, the customer requirements according to ITIL standards or ISO specifications have also increased as proof of an intact quality management.
"The service level reports for our customers for regular monitoring can now be output almost fully automatically."
In the past GIA already had a helpdesk system based on the "single point of contact" principle, with which customers could basically create and track tickets. "However, the design was rather 'stale' and with its rudimentary features it was also limited in terms of customer requirements with regard of usability and transparency," recalls Raymond Grossert, Head of Platform Technology & Client Support at GIA Informatik. However, the helpdesk system, which was designed specifically for the requirements of GIA at the time and gradually developed over the years, was a 'dumb' ticket system that simply used to record and manage tickets or faults. The lack of update and release capability of the system greatly limited the possibilities for effective and, above all, economic expansion of the system. As a result, GIA was not in a position to systematically map requests beyond 'incidents' such as 'changes' and 'problems' within the meaning of the DIN-ISO-20000 standard. The lack of workflow support made working with the system vulnerable to workarounds and manual side jobs. At the beginning of 2014, this gave the impetus for orienting oneself towards an ITIL or ISO-20000 capable system. The selection and implementation process should be preceded by the planned ISO-20000 certification in order to lay the foundation for the following conversion processes.
GIA company headquarters in Oftringen
The ITIL-related process structure, which is able to map not only "incidents" but also "problems", "changes" or "releases", was therefore one of the main requirements for the future service solution in the course of the ISO certification. In addition, it should have open interfaces for the integration of third-party systems and a smart, easy-to-use workflow system, which can also be flexibly tailored to individual needs on its own. Last but not least, a medium-sized partner was sought, who convinces through his consulting and solution competence and meets GIA in terms of size and customer clientele on equal terms.
As part of a student thesis at GIA, a first requirement profile was first created, which ultimately served as the basis for the project tendering to around 20 solution providers. Finally, the provider pool identified as being suitable was further consolidated based on recommendations from an ISO consultant. The four remaining solution providers were then invited to software presentations at GIA Informatik. In the end, the decision was concentrated on two solution providers who offered a similarly broad range of functions. At the end, the GIA project team awarded the contract to the Hamburg mIT solutions GmbH, which delivered the better offer not only in terms of price.
"The overall package of chemistry, costs, flexible process and workflow control and the modern, office-friendly and user-friendly look & feel simply fit," says Raymond Grossert. The user is virtually guided through the process in EcholoN. This operating logic is always the same in EcholoN, even if you represent different processes, which makes the daily work very comfortable. "One of the big advantages was the Data Workflow System from mIT solutions, which today not only serves as a central data hub for EcholoN, but is also used as an integration platform for other systems. The connection of external systems is thus very smooth for us in practice, which enjoys a high priority for us as an IT service provider in the care of our customers."
Based on best practices and ISO standards
Immediately after the conclusion of the contract in the spring of 2015, the training, migration and introductory phase began with the aim of putting the new system into operation on 01.12.2015. First of all, the central processes and workflows were defined on the basis of best practices together with the mIT consultants, which was then laid out as a kind of template on the recommended process organization of the ISO consultants. The resulting intersection was then converted 1: 1 into EcholoN at the end. At the same time as the introduction of EcholoN, the new customer portal based on it has also been launched. In order to provide the necessary information for the activity allocation of the after-maintenance services for the downstream processes, EcholoN was connected via interface to the time recording system of the SAP system.
Today, the service desk, with its several employees in first-level support, is the linchpin for the collection and forwarding of tickets to the responsible departments and employees. In second-level support, around 100 employees work with EcholoN, who are responsible for handling the tickets. Another 2,500 users access the new solution via the service portal.
Based on best practices and ISO standards
With the introduction of the EcholoN service portal, the customer side has primarily noticed the more modern user interface. "Our customers have noticed little of the more complex ITIL-oriented processes in the background. Only the service selection that our end users find on the portal, as well as the possibilities for evaluating the services, have significantly expanded, "explains the responsible project manager. "The biggest changes at the process level were therefore internal. In the course of the ISO certification, we had to reorganize various processes across departments, such as workflows and escalation routines, to enable the intended process chain and at the same time ensure more comfortable control in the backend. The consistent process orientation of EcholoN was a great help in the realization of this project, so that the effort remained very manageable. "
Today, GIA uses EcholoN as a strategic tool to improve cooperation with customers and to sustainably increase service quality.
360 ° view of service
The mails, which used to be received by the employees at the service desk, came mostly in the classic way, via Outlook. Even before they could be recorded manually in the ticket system, an elaborate check routine was initially carried out as to whether the ticket, for example, had already been stored in the system. With EcholoN, these manual capture and verification processes are now completely eliminated. This is reflected in a significant time savings in the mail processing at the service desk, because this pre-filtering takes on EcholoN system side on the basis of specific, customizable criteria. The service employees can directly access the linked entries or the history and are able to inform customers ad hoc. "In this way, we achieve a consistent traceability of who has processed what with what result in our company, and can always provide our customers with detailed statements without much effort," says Raymond Grossert. "In any case, the daily insights, KPIs and 'process triggers' are an immense relief for the planning and control of our service processes. For example, our so-called 'service level reports', that we provide regularly for our customers for monitoring, are now almost fully automated. At the push of a button we can determine, for example, the first-time solution rate in first-level support or the average time of troubleshooting in different service areas - also as proof for our customers. This was not possible earlier or only with immense effort. "
Also, the preconfigured, automated monthly reports of the GIA management provide a well-founded insight into the assessed tickets, in order to be able to take countermeasures early on, for example in the case of conspicuous or frequent negative assessments, and thus to improve the quality of service so sustainably. This requirement, which is summarized under the keyword "problem management", is also a central requirement of ISO 20000 certification and serves as the basis for establishing a continuous improvement process. The fact that small adaptations and system expansions can now be implemented on a stand-alone basis also makes EcholoN a central "business enabler" even beyond the boundaries of the service area.
The Data Workflow System from mIT solutions, which i.a. for the integration of inventory data, the Active Directory including user data, Excel documents or the connection of partner systems is used, is now also very popular with GIA customers and is already being used by several customers to support the inventory process.
Creation of a central knowledge database also for customers
GIA Informatik today uses EcholoN as a strategic tool to enhance collaboration with customers, take service to a new level and increase customer loyalty. Based on the steadily increasing number of incidents, the Knowledge Base entries are intended to provide users and customers with access to a central knowledge library in EcholoN. An additional EcholoN service desk with a wide range of delegation options was also set up for other customers so that the employees at the customer's site can easily and effectively delegate the tickets to their respective departments and employees for processing. So the employee works with the customer with the EcholoN system, but only with the tickets that have been assigned to him in advance. At the same time, the service catalog was expanded with the support of EcholoN for the GIA major customers.
Image source: GIA