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Empowering RNIB to manage property properly

  • Staff and volunteers supported
    icon-arrow 1300
  • Requests generated in the Employee Centre
    icon-arrow 70%
  • Clearly defined ticket categories

RNIB’s Property team helps provide essential services for visually impaired people across the UK. When the time came to replace their service desk system, the RNIB turned to FlyForm and ServiceNow to transform how they manage property issues for the better.

No one should face the challenges of sight loss on their own. Thankfully, organisations such as RNIB, the Royal National Institute of Blind People, are on hand to offer much-needed support along this difficult journey.

A key part of this support stems from RNIB’s Property team who handle all property-related operations across the entire organisation – spanning offices, commercial spaces and residences in all four UK countries.

So, when the Property team faced a looming deadline to replace its service desk system, the RNIB turned to us and ServiceNow to help overhaul their ITSM approach and empower them to manage property properly.

Vital services built on poor foundations

Only a small team of around 20 people, the Property team oversees the support and maintenance of RNIB’s offices, commercial spaces and over 100 smaller flats and houses of multiple occupation used by blind and partially sighted tenants.

The Property team’s service desk system would exit support in early 2024 and the clock was ticking to replace it.

But that wasn’t the only issue. The existing system was implemented with little to no requirements gathering or system design, resulting in convoluted processes and poor case management.

With no online portal, tickets came in via email to a shared mailbox – with each email generating a new ticket even if it related to an existing task. To make matters worse, many of these were unnecessary and served only to clog up the service desk’s already overwhelmed inbox.

“Handling over 400 jobs a month this way through a small service desk was not a very efficient way of using resources,” says Simon Lakin, a Technical Business Analyst at RNIB.

To cope, service desk staff would simply close down tickets straight away to clear their queues, as there was no way to put jobs on hold, making tracking and managing tickets extremely tricky.

"Handling over 400 jobs a month this way through a small service desk was not a very efficient way of using resources."

Simon Lakin, Technical Business Analyst, RNIB

Messy processes and a basic database

Ticket classification was also a problem. Once a ticket had made it through the email inbox gauntlet, the Property team’s service desk agents were faced with more than 90 different categories to choose from, many of which were unclear in their meaning or use.

Such a messy process meant that reporting was either poor or non-existent – not helped by the fact that the Property team relied on a very basic database. This database had no structured hierarchy or address, just a name and over 88 properties listed with next to no detail on each. The lack of an asset database to record what assets were kept or assigned to each property simply exacerbated the issue.

The absence of detailed information posed a significant challenge, hindering RNIB's ability to gain a clear picture of property-related issues more widely.

This challenge extended to compliance processes. Completing fire checks or making sure air conditioning unit servicing was up to date relied on manual methods such as spreadsheets and SharePoint files – which made auditing and record-keeping a tedious and error-prone task.

In the face of these challenges, the Property team aimed to deliver essential services, but faced a constant uphill battle created by convoluted and unfit-for-purpose processes.

Play the video below for the full interview with the RNIB

A trusted partner and a strategic, accessible solution

Our partnership with RNIB began three years ago when we helped replace their IT team’s existing service desk system with ServiceNow ITSM, and our Managed Service team has been supporting them ever since.

The positive experience of working with FlyForm's delivery and Managed Service teams, coupled with the effectiveness of ServiceNow, made us the natural choice to support the property project.

After a fruitful exploratory call with their FlyForm account manager, the RNIB were confident that ServiceNow could not only meet but exceed their requirements – providing a robust foundation for future improvements and expansion into additional ServiceNow modules.

RNIB felt so confident in their choice that they have now selected ServiceNow to be the strategically chosen platform for all RNIB service desk solutions.

A pivotal consideration for RNIB in opting for ServiceNow goes beyond its immediate functionalities; it's also its existing support and future roadmap for accessibility standards that sealed the deal. RNIB not only champions blind and partially sighted individuals but they also actively employ many of them in various roles throughout the organisation.

Anila Mistry, a Technical Project Manager at RNIB, said: “ServiceNow’s commitment to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines went a long way to instilling our confidence in choosing ServiceNow as a product. The platform can be used by all members of staff, whether that's agents handling tickets in the back-end or front-end users who raise tickets or access services from the portal.”

ITSM, Employee Centre and a ‘One Team’ approach

The property project marked the deployment of ITSM and the ServiceNow Employee Centre, introducing a new portal and streamlined processes for 23 backend users and over 1300 portal users – all to be accomplished within just eight weeks.

The aim was to standardise and consolidate RNIB's service data and processes, enhancing compliance, service speed and visibility of service data and insights.

In true partnership spirit, we collaborated closely with RNIB as a single team, delving into their requirements and aspirations.

Leveraging the power of the ServiceNow platform, we crafted a solution that delivered tangible value to both RNIB's back-end team and the people they tirelessly support.

"Seven weeks and two days after kick-off we were live – which was an impressive feat."

Simon Lakin, Technical Business Analyst, RNIB

A transformed service delivery platform

Thanks to the successful delivery of the property project – which was completed precisely on time and to budget – RNIB has undergone a complete transformation in how it manages properties to support essential services:

A new, one-stop-shop portal

The days of navigating through a convoluted email process for requests are a thing of the past. Now, the RNIB boasts a streamlined, one-stop-shop service desk system that’s readily accessible and user-friendly for its core team of 23 back-end users and 1300+ staff and volunteers.

The Employee Centre portal has become the go-to destination for raising tickets – handling over 70% of requests, with plans to increase this further as the organisation fully integrates the new process and portal.

“The new portal has meant an improved service for our blind and partially sighted tenants at our residential properties,” says Anila. “Our tenancy staff can now raise an issue really quickly, meaning high-priority issues such as a burst pipe or loss of electricity can be quickly picked up and we can get somebody out to them much faster than we previously could.”

To top things off, the portal is built in RNIB’s branding – ensuring consistency and accessibility through the use of colours, contrast and layout.

"Our tenancy staff can now raise an issue really quickly, meaning high-priority issues such as a burst pipe or loss of electricity can be quickly picked up and we can get somebody out to them much faster than we previously could."

Anila Mistry, Technical Project Manager, RNIB

Improved ticket management and compliance

For the Property Service Desk team, the once overwhelming 90 request categories have been distilled to 10, simplifying the process for all involved.

Interestingly, the number of tickets being processed by the team has increased, going from 400 to 700 per month.

That may sound counterproductive, but, as part of this project, RNIB has incorporated a lot of additional manual processes into the portal. That means more tickets being generated but they’re handled far more efficiently – resulting in greater overall productivity.

A remarkable 5-7% of requests are now automatically scheduled and generated, efficiently handling routine maintenance tasks and significantly easing compliance adherence.

“We have 32 different categories of compliance, ranging from air con to lifts and fire checks to make sure we’re maintaining buildings that are compliant and within regulations – and these are all now generated automatically by the system,” says Simon.

For Emma Adams, RNIB’s Property Helpdesk Coordinator, the change has been a big step up: “Having the ability to add our properties, assets and compliance reminders all in one place has been hugely beneficial for the team. We’ve not had all this in one place before, so it’s a huge improvement from how we were working previously.”

Better still, tickets are no longer hastily closed to clear queues. Instead, the Service Desk team can now put tickets on hold, employing temporary triage tickets for new emails, converting them to real tickets or cancelling as needed. Replies to emails are seamlessly logged to existing tickets, preventing the unnecessary creation of redundant requests.

A database that delivers

With request and service processes working harmoniously, RNIB also now has a comprehensive property and asset database in place.

Key assets, from boilers to air conditioning units, are now meticulously tagged, itemised and associated with the relevant property. The property database encompasses all 173 of RNIB's active properties, allowing easy differentiation between property types and efficient assignment by facility manager and location.

“We’ve now got detailed reporting and dashboards, which means managers can now see everything that’s going on,” says Simon. “They can see what types of requests we’ve got, which property they’re being requested from, who’s requesting it, etc. Managers need to understand what’s going on at these properties and now they can easily do that.”

Consolidating all data and service processes on one platform empowers RNIB with access to real, contextual data, helping them identify recurring issues at specific locations and implement solutions at the source.

“We can now quickly view all of the jobs for a particular property. This is really going to help us over time as we start to look at where the biggest issues are, what assets are causing the most problems, can a boiler be replaced before it breaks, and so on.”

"FlyForm were incredibly responsive, we often raised a bug or had a question or enhancement in the morning and by the afternoon not only would we have a response but it would have been resolved! That speed and efficiency is something we’ve never experienced before.”

Anila Mistry, Technical Project Manager, RNIB

Accessible services built for scale

The property project has been so successful that other departments within the RNIB have started to look at how they can benefit from moving more of their systems into ServiceNow – with a potential HRSD project on the horizon.

Running on their newly overhauled and efficient Service Desk system, the Property team can now effectively manage RNIB properties and look to increase and optimise its service support.

Thanks to ServiceNow, RNIB has a solid foundation to improve how it delivers services, offering increased accessibility support at scale to visually impaired people throughout the UK.

FlyForm is proud to support RNIB in its mission to help blind and partially sighted people. This project will have a far-reaching impact, benefitting thousands of blind and partially sighted individuals across the UK who rely on RNIB's essential services and support.

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