| Elite Partner

Softcat slashes its resolution time by 35% with ITSM and ITOM Discovery

  • Reduction in MTTR
    icon-arrow 35%
  • Incidents logged against infrastructure
    icon-arrow 25%
  • Users supported
    icon-arrow 2,500+

When it comes to delivering efficient IT services, ITSM is only half the story.

To unlock the full use of its data and improve its operational support, Softcat’s internal IT team turned to FlyForm and ServiceNow’s IT Operations Management (ITOM) Discovery to achieve true synergy.

The flow of information through an organisation is the lifeblood of its success. Any blockages, bottlenecks or silos can quickly put a strain on the day-to-day operation of your IT systems and services.

That was certainly the case for our strategic partner and client, Softcat. Though thriving through strong organic growth, the maturity of their IT service management tool and processes struggled to keep up with their needs.

Working in partnership, we helped Softcat combine the benefits of ServiceNow’s IT Service Management (ITSM) with ITOM Discovery to deliver informed and effective IT support services.

Services and IT Operations: The great divide

The main problem for Softcat’s internal IT team was the significant disconnect between its existing IT services system and operational IT data.

This divide stemmed from a previous ServiceNow implementation which had been built with a focus on customer-facing services, so any operational capability had to be bolted on as an afterthought.

Not only did this mean that Softcat’s wider IT infrastructure was murky and misunderstood – it was also underutilised and difficult to report on accurately.

Megan Leadbetter, Softcat’s Head of IT Operations, said: “That lack of visibility meant that, in the event of major incidents or P1s, we’d see the impact but not know what the root cause or impact was – simply because that information wasn’t in the system.”

’Turn it off and see what happens’

This lack of context resulted in a ‘turn it off and see what happens’ approach, as Softcat had limited ways to identify the purpose behind each operational item.

That lack of detail also made life difficult when it came to producing information for regulators.

Operating in a heavily audited and regulated industry, Softcat would spend weeks – even months – pulling together spreadsheets of infrastructure components. This ate up a lot of time and resources, but it also meant that the data was immediately out of date and no longer painted a realistic picture.

Without a live view and understanding of its service and operational IT data, meeting service demand whilst keeping on top of its infrastructure and compliance requirements became a difficult balance to maintain.

Moving from silos to synergy

To overcome the divide between service and operational data, there needed to be easy access to shared, up-to-date information.

With that in place, Softcat’s service desk could then see – and understand – what was really happening, allowing them to identify and proactively reduce the time and disruption cost of IT issues to the business.

As a close strategic partner and expert in the ServiceNow space, Softcat turned to us to help course-correct its existing ITSM implementation, introduce ITOM best practices for efficient data management and improve collaboration to provide a better level of IT support to the business.

"In the event of major incidents or P1s, we’d see the impact but not know what the root cause or impact was – simply because that information wasn’t in the system."

Megan Leadbetter, Head of IT Operations, Softcat

Creating a plan through shared understanding

To ensure Softcat achieved its desired outcomes, we broke the project into three distinct phases: Exploration, Implementation and Preparation.

The exploration phase consisted of six weeks of workshops and involved people from all areas of the business. Approaching it this way meant that we could identify the people and areas most impacted by the project, as well as their particular pain points.

By taking a people-centric view of the issues, we could get to the heart of the challenge and create very clear and detailed requirements. These, in turn, shaped clear end goals and benefits that helped secure buy-in from across the business.

The aim was to create a centralised repository of what the IT estate looks like to provide service managers and agents with the information they need to provide a knowledgeable service. For that to happen, we needed to make sure that all operational items were being properly tracked and recorded in the configuration management database (CMDB).

To achieve this synergy between ITSM and ITOM Discovery, we prepared to take the following actions:

  1. Identify which operational data is needed
  2. Source where it’s coming from with Discovery
  3. Allocate owners for that data
  4. Integrate the live data into Softcat’s ITSM processes
  5. Report on processes and changes
  6. Automate any menial or repetitive tasks

Armed with the how, the why and the expected outcome, the implementation began to bear fruit almost immediately.

"It’s no longer a case of IT vs. the business… it’s now IT and the business working as one entity."

Kieran Anson, Technical Product Owner, Softcat

An improved experience built on accurate data

We’re always thrilled to see our work create a positive impact – and the change for Softcat was night and day in terms of its IT efficiency.

Thanks to the visibility and context provided by pairing ITSM and ITOM Discovery, Softcat has seen the following improvements:

A very happy service desk

With ITOM and the CMDB feeding operational data into ITSM, Softcat’s service desk agents have the information they need at their fingertips.

Where they once worked in the dark, the service desk can now rely on up-to-date information including which assets are assigned to the user, what the serial numbers are, what software is installed on them, and more.

This is a massive time saver for Softcat’s agents. They no longer have to ask for these details on the call or look up the information in separate systems – it’s readily available to them automatically.

For Megan, the change has been transformative: “Managing service requests in the proper way was difficult at first as it was a completely new way of working, but it has been beneficial as we’re servicing the business a lot quicker and a lot better.”

No more swivel-chairing

Goodbye siloed solutions and information. Now, everyone who needs it has access to shared data in a single place thanks to the CMDB.

Having such rich operational data available opens the door to advanced automation opportunities, whether that’s the prioritisation of critical incidents or automatically assigning tickets to the relevant agent or team.

When you’ve got an IT team of around 85 people like Softcat, being able to leverage these capabilities saves you A LOT of time and effort.

Another benefit is that IT operational information no longer resides in people’s heads or in an unwieldy spreadsheet – it’s embedded and referenced as part of the service management process.

Data they can trust

Whereas asset lists were once stored in monthly spreadsheets – which were so big only one person could open them at a time – asset lists now live in ServiceNow and get updated daily.

This provides up-to-date information that Softcat can both trust, make decisions with, and use for effective automation.

ITSM process information also now directly references the live infrastructure, meaning operational reports can be much more responsive to the situation on the ground and root-cause analysis can be completed in a fraction of the time.

An improved user experience

Communication between users and IT support staff is now much more transparent and efficient – agents no longer have to go and hunt down the information they need and users no longer have to supply it, which removes a communication barrier for those who may not be IT literate.

These benefits have brought Softcat’s mean time to resolution (MTTR) down by 35% – and it’s on track to hit 55% in the near future.

As Softcat’s Technical Product Owner, Kieran Anson, explains: “It’s no longer a case of IT vs. the business… it’s now IT and the business working as one entity.”

Shared synergy is just the start

Softcat’s internal IT team now has a strong ITSM foundation to build on – one that is built around their requirements and not those of the customer-facing services team.

Paired with the increased visibility provided by ITOM Discovery, Softcat can now explore new opportunities for automation and further service enhancements.

As the next step on this journey, FlyForm has already helped Softcat adopt ServiceNow’s common service data model (CSDM). This will enhance the consistency of its data and improve the free flow of information between Softcat’s CMDB and the Now Platform to unlock advanced service management capabilities.

“Whereas before we were missing that holistic view, with the ServiceNow platform in place and CSDM work complete, we now have clear visibility and understanding of the services we offer to the business,” says Megan.

More and more organisations are discovering the untapped potential of their operational data with ServiceNow. Our work with the RNIB enabled the charity to step away from spreadsheets and create an integrated platform for success – you can discover their ITSM and ITOM success story here.

If you’d like to find out more about implementing ITOM to break down your data silos and transform your service experience, why not drop our friendly team a line to get started?

Interested in the benefits of ServiceNow's ITSM and ITOM?

Book your free consultation icon-arrow