Service Catalog, Beyond IT
“If we have one system that can be centralized for everyone, it helps us work faster as an organization."
Steve Blackburn, Continuous Improvement Analyst
How Two Service Desk Admins Deliver Quality Services to 6,000 Employees
Yorkshire Water is one of the largest regulated water and wastewater companies in the United Kingdom. With over 5 million customers, it supplies 2.1 million properties and over 140,000 business premises. Yorkshire Water works around the clock to ensure their customers all have clean water on tap and have their waste water taken away.
Streamlining Services and Communication
Between full-time employees and additional contract partners, Yorkshire Water supports over 6,000 users through the service desk. Prior to Samanage, that meant a lot of support emails, and a lot of difficulty tracking the work between departments.
“We actually started with Samanage in our facilities department,” explained Steve Blackburn, Continuous Improvement Analyst at Yorkshire Water. “We knew it would help us build forms and workflows, provide quicker answers, and get a handle on all of the communication.”
Though facilities was the initial pressure point, the email communication was a concern throughout the organization.
“It was all over the place,” said John Walton, Service Desk Team Leader. “Queries came through emails, phone calls, and various other sources. There was no way to measure the volume of work.”
The Samanage workflow engine proved so effective in facilities that the organization began to incorporate other departments into the platform. They started moving tickets from IT, health, finance, governance and compliance, and property calls into the system to track their work, streamlining service delivery.
“The IT service delivery product had become obsolete, but once they switched to Samanage, word of mouth began to travel throughout the organization,” Steve said. “In the last four years, we’ve switched all of these departments into Samanage, and we’ve taken over 260,000 requests through the system. That tells you how popular it is.”
During this transition throughout the organization, Steve and John helped each department build workflows — lots of workflows — for their regular processes. In fact, Yorkshire Water currently has over 300 service catalog items built into Samanage. Some cover simple processes with only a few steps, like purchase ordering. Some cover much more complex workflows, assigning tasks and approvals across different departments, like employee onboarding.
“The key is that you need to show them the power,” Steve said. “If you can understand what they need, help them build a form and process, they’ll see very quickly that you’re making their lives so much easier.”
It’s not only training new stakeholders on how to build workflows and processes. Steve also stressed the importance of providing employees with a positive experience for every request or support need, and that requires a bit of education and cooperation.
“They can find their catalog items pretty easily, and we’ve also provided 643 solutions articles to help them with simple issues,” he explained. “But we need them to access these resources through the service portal. When we get a phone call, 99 times out of 100, we’ll direct them to the portal, and they’ll understand why it’s the best way after their first experience.”
“The feedback is all positive,” John added. “They never wonder which service catalog item is correct. The new search function leads them straight to it.”
Forward Thinking With Continuous Improvement
The term is in Steve’s job title: “continuous improvement.”
It’s one of the reasons Yorkshire Water has seen so much success in streamlining processes, and it’s the reason Steve and his team are constantly looking for better ways to work.
“If we have one system that can be centralized for everyone, it helps us work faster as an organization, and that’s my job,” Steve said. “The reason John and I are able to administer the whole thing is because everything is in the same place.”
But as he outlined, it takes some upkeep and a laser-focus on business functions to make one platform work for everyone.
“That means we need to update the portal. We need to add or consolidate service catalog items to reflect what’s going on in the organization. We need to know which department we’re adding or changing so that we can use Samanage to help them build their processes correctly.”
Steve’s next big project is around the organizational focus on SAP. Yorkshire Water has a major initiative to leverage all of SAP’s functionality, which is an opportunity for the service desk to help.
“We have a whole team focused on our SAP implementation at Yorkshire Water,” Steve said. “Part of making Samanage a single service solution is preparing for these types of transitions, so I’m currently working with that team to have an integration ready for our SAP go-live. We’ll update our solutions, update our portal, and update our processes so this shift has a minimal impact on the day-to-day.”