Managing growth, remaining competitive
Having recently floated on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:ADH), Adairs is recognised as one of Australia's leading specialist retailers of manchester and homewares with a comprehensive range of bed linen, bedding products, towels, cushions, throws, homewares, wall art and furniture.
With forecast sales of over $236 million in the 2016 financial year and a published growth strategy to open 8-12 new stores every year for the foreseeable future, the company’s IT team had been battling bravely with out-dated tools to improve its delivery of service to the business.
New tool needed for ITIL
According to Trichelle Jordan, Adairs’ Applications and Business Improvement Manager, the Technology team had out-matured its existing IT service management toolset as it began aligning its operations with the ITIL best practice IT service management framework.
“I was brought on in February 2014 to develop a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the business and to implement ITIL,” Jordan said. “It very quickly became apparent that we needed a better tool to deliver the new Request Fulfilment, Incident, Problem and Change management processes that had been developed.
“After 18 months, we had all of the processes in place but we had no tool to set a benchmark for our performance and to measure our improvement against that base. We also had no way to provide transparency on how we were tracking against the expectations of the business under the SLA.
“We were heavily reliant on manual processes, had very little real-time visibility of technology and Service Desk performance and we were struggling to efficiently manage the escalation of Incidents affecting our service delivery.
“Previously we had no escalation process, no clear thoroughfare between the different processes and we had no reporting tools. Our old system was effectively just a call-logging system where you entered calls, assigned a name to that call and that was it.”
Choosing the right tool
Adairs assessed four different service management tools looking for the best fit to meet its key requirements of alignment with ITIL, interactive and real-time dashboards, a managed escalation capability and the capacity to set pre-defined thresholds with automated alerts prior to SLA breaches.
“Integrated ITIL processes were also an important requirement so that when an Incident came through we could easily invoke any other ITIL process from that Incident” Jordan said. “In addition, we wanted the tool to be highly flexible in its out-of-the-box functionality. I didn’t want to have to access the core code just to configure processes to our exact requirements.
“Another key factor that was taken into consideration, was whether we would be able to implement the tool to other areas of the business in the future. We want the service management improvement we bring into the Technology team, to be replicable in other areas of service delivered to the business.”
Simple, familiar and flexible
When measured against these criteria, Adairs decided that Ivanti Software was best suited to underscore its ambitious service management improvement objectives. Jordan said it was not a difficult choice based on the toolset’s ease-of-use, flexibility and raw functionality.
“Ivanti’s user interface presented welcome familiarity and flexibility to us,” Jordan said. “We found it simple to manipulate and configure to get what we wanted, where other tools we looked at were far more complex.
“From the beginning, we felt very comfortable working with Ivanti and its implementation partner Fusion5. They seemed to understand our business, our challenges and our objectives better than the alternative solution providers.”
Rapid deployment, immediate results
Once the decision was made to go with Ivanti, the toolset was rapidly deployed by Fusion5 and the Service Desk team were immediately up and running with managing new Service Request Management, Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management processes.
“We just came up with a date we were comfortable with and turned it on,” Jordan said. “This was a deliberate strategy because we didn’t want to get too distracted by the configuration.
“Our plan was to just start using the tool, determine for ourselves what was working for us, what wasn’t and what we wanted to do next. There were only a few minor teething issues and they were quickly resolved within hours of going live.”
Having set its SLA thresholds within the tool, Adairs’ Service Desk was able to immediately start gaining efficiency and performance benefits. Every team member now had easy-to-decipher dashboard alerting them to the most pressing issues, a social media stream keeping them abreast of activity pertaining to logged calls and service management in general.
“Our dashboards are colour-coded so that it makes it simple to ascertain what needs attention as a priority. Our Team leaders have a complete insight into their team’s activity, making it a much more proactive approach, rather than reactive” Jordan said.
“We barely had to tweak anything at all to immediately start getting a return on the investment. The only thing we had to attend to was the way that escalation process was configured. Fusion5 customised this for us which changed the interface slightly on a few different forms enabling us to see the information we wanted.”
Seamless process integration
Through Ivanti’s single view dashboards, Adairs now has seamless integration of all its ITIL processes so that when an Incident turns into a Problem and when that Problem requires a Change, there is a full audit.
“When an Incident comes through to the Service Desk it goes into an unassigned queue and we have a defined SLA on that queue,” Jordan said. “We have implemented escalation rules based on status and priority.”
“Our Service Desk are using standardised ITIL process of initial diagnosis, categorisation, prioritisation etc. If we establish that the Incident is a priority or is informative, we immediately use the social board within Ivanti to notify all stakeholders of our current issue.
For Incidents that are declared a master and/or are a Problem, it is very simple to create a Problem record from the Incident, and assign that to the Problem Management team.
Jordan said that she has also just started to use Ivanti Software’s Network Discovery tool that automatically tracks and maps a full inventory log of all of the devices on the network.
“We have identified the opportunity to create some business value from this,” she said. “This function will allow us to practice Asset and Configuration Management as well as assisting in the financial reporting requirements on our fixed asset register.
“Our finance department currently use an Excel spreadsheet as a fixed asset register. This houses every device that has ever come in and out these doors. With HEAT, we can now discover what is currently in production, allocate each device to a User/Service.
“That is a far more efficient way to financially manage fixed IT assets and it saves a lot of time and heartache for the finance department.
“It is also tied into all of our Incidents, Problems and Changes to do with these devices which means that over time we can start building a picture of root causes of repeating Incidents and Problems in regards to particular types of hardware which helps shape prudent procurement decisions further down the line.”
“It makes it much easier to identify what services/devices will be affected by an Incident/Problem and/or a Change by using the Relationship map. Making it a much more proactive management style.”