Service catalog, application integrations
“Every time someone interacts with Samanage for the first time, they are surprised at how easy it is.”
Chris Comerford, Chief Information Officer
Streamlining the Service Experience in America's Original Planetarium
On May 12, 1930, the Adler Planetarium became the first public planetarium in the western hemisphere. The Adler strives to inspire exploration and understanding of the universe in an engaging, hands-on environment. It has become a cultural icon in Chicago, and was featured nationally on Good Morning America and ABC News during the 2017 total solar eclipse.
Service Catalog to Streamline Processes
When Adler decided to bring IT services in-house, the first thing Chris Comerford, Adler’s chief information officer, needed was a service desk solution.
“We wanted to use forms for requesters, but we needed the ability to build a workflow underneath that we can pre-define,” said Comerford. “We looked at other tools that had some of that functionality, but it was difficult to use, and it wasn’t really integrated into one place. We want to write the form, write the workflow, and get it out there.”
The service catalog on the Samanage Service Platform provided the ideal vehicle to accomplish that.
“It’s been the killer feature for us,” said Comerford. “When we brought IT in-house, we started by building service catalog items around technology purchasing and laptop checkout, and it streamlined those processes right away.”
Prior to Samanage, the technology purchasing process included an Excel spreadsheet that listed every detail about the purchase request. These spreadsheets were printed, signed, and shared with Accounting, who would process the quote and purchase details. If the technology purchase was for another department, there was an additional approval process, and the whole team handled this communication manually.
“We put the approvals online with automated notifications, giving Accounting access to the tickets,” said Comerford. “They can see all the information up front when they create a purchase order, and they can see who approved it. This way, we don’t have all those documents flying around.”
In addition to IT purchasing and laptop checkouts, Adler Planetarium has also taken advantage of the service catalog for the Human Resources department.
“There are certain service catalog items that only HR can see,” explained Comerford. “They can request new hire onboarding or offboarding, which helps us collect all the information we need.”
Application Integrations for Multiple Departments
Part of expanding the capability of the service catalog includes incorporating different departments, much like Comerford describes with the onboarding process. As Adler IT extends service requests to include more than one department, the team has found some creative ways to connect them with the data they need to perform certain tasks and fulfill requests.
“Our Facilities Support team has a very high request volume,” said Comerford. “Before we brought them into Samanage, it was difficult to tell them anything that was coming out of our system. Now we can build them into workflows, and send the process in different directions as it needs to be done. We’re seeing many possibilities that come with working out of the same system.”
One particular piece of functionality that has helped connect these interdepartmental workflows is the Samanage application integration option in the service catalog.
“Now that Facilities uses Samanage, they have a key request catalog item, and we can automatically create that out of a new hire,” explained Comerford. “When we create a new account as part of an onboarding request, we use Samanage’s own API to automate a key request, which otherwise might be an entirely separate process.”
At the appropriate point in the onboarding workflow, the application integration option uses information on keys and access collected up front to automate a previously manual process. Now, the key request item is pre-assigned to the appropriate person, already complete with the information they need to complete that step of the onboarding process.
Comerford said they’ve used this functionality with other pieces of workflows, such as new computer requests for incoming staff. They’ll use it for any little step they can, like renaming a ticket automatically to include pertinent information.
“My staff loves it, and although some of these steps take only a minute or two to complete, it adds up to a lot of manual work,” said Comerford. “When the system does it for them, the team can be more efficient in the work they need to get done.”
Scaling With a Partner
Adler’s enthusiasm for using technology in new ways and the IT team’s passion for simplifying operations have helped cut down service delivery time and improve employee satisfaction.
“Every time someone interacts with Samanage for the first time, they are surprised at how easy it is,” said Comerford. “We really want to emphasize the end user, or employee. The approvals are pretty versatile, so we use them for all kinds of interactions, even with non-agents. All they have to do is open an email on their phone or computer and click the ‘approve’ button.”
Although they’ve already built a powerful workflow engine through the service catalog, Adler Planetarium is always looking for ways to improve service delivery.
“We try to keep up with the new functionality as it comes out,” said Comerford. “It gets our brains spinning on how we can streamline our processes even further. The level of partnership, interaction, and support that we’ve received from Samanage has been outstanding. That’s why the tool is so easy to use — it’s not just a product we bought. It’s a partnership that Samanage has committed to as well.”