RETAIL: Retail Giant Makes IT a Remedy Force Of Habit
Recent Western Cape Business News
After identifying the need for a new IT Service Management (ITSM) tool to assist in better managing IT processes and services, local retail giant the Clicks Group, turned to service provider Quintica and the BMC RemedyForce solution to help meet its goals.
The Clicks IT Service Centre is a centralised group function that currently services some 650 stores across the group. This includes Clicks Pharmacies, Musica, The BodyShop and GNC stores as well as its head office, including UPD, distribution centres and regional offices, notably the central team currently receives approximately 15,000 service calls a month.
Retail giant makes IT a Remedy Force of habit
To create context, Clicks had been running an aging ITSM tool that has reached end of life, which is when the IT Service Operations team at Clicks, opted to investigate a future-based ITSM tool that would provide improved functionality beyond the IT service desk.
"We needed a new generation tool that supported new technologies, would integrate across multiple systems; be that single source of information that we could leverage industry standards-based service cataloguing such as ITIL and ultimately would take us into the future," says Ian February, the current IT Service operations manager. "After running an RFI, BMC's RemedyForce became the solution of choice from both a cost and functionality viewpoint."
After an aggressive project rollout that lasted just six months the Clicks Group is now enjoying access to a complete SaaS ITSM solution that can be accessed internally and remotely. What's more, due to the fact that the solution supports the creation of workgroups, it can be set up for all our third party vendors, who can now seamlessly provide support on calls that are assigned to them by accessing RemedyForce via the web and ensuring accurate call resolution statistics that feeds our service level measurement process.
"With RemedyForce our stores can take advantage of a complete online self-service solution without having to sit through lengthy telephone prompts," adds February. As an example, the pharmacy trade is a highly pressured environment. As part of streamlining the ticket logging process, we implemented the RemedyForce Self-Service facility, which afford all end users the opportunity to log the ticket directly into the system themselves and obtain a reference number immediately. This has cut down lengthy telephone calls, waiting times, ultimately improving incident resolution times."
According to February, it is easier to measure success in numbers. In the past the team reported system availability metric between 80% - 83%. After re-engineering the process and measuring the scorecard, making use of that single source with the data now available in Remedyforce, Clicks is now enjoying 99.8% system availability. Why? Simply, because teams are able to monitor and manage top priority incidents by means of dashboards more effectively and service more people reliably, without just throwing bums on seats. And according to February: "Credibility is everything."
Additional successes achieved include improved customer centricity, a reduction in customer frustration, the creation of more user-friendly communications within the tool, all of which is backed up by the positive results evidenced in regular customer surveys run by the Clicks IT team.
Broadcasting from within the tool is a huge benefit cited by February. To name but one example; when the airtime vending service in stores is down, the IT Service Centre is able to put a floating banner on the RemedyForce incident management console visible to all via the self-service module. This then informs users of the service degradation or outage, which then prevents an influx of telephone calls into the service centre from users or stores and ultimately drives down group telephone costs as well as improving service perception.
"At the time when we selected RemedyForce we really were breaking ground in the South African Retail industry with its adoption and we, as well as our partner Quintica, had no one to use as a local benchmark or reference site. After some time working together, Chantelle Bezuidenhout, our account manager at Quintica, highlighted the importance of proper planning and design of such a project prior to commencement.
"She also advised we would need to make use of and deploy correctly skilled resources, ensure we made use of clean and accurate foundation data, as well as ensure we ran regular communication to all stakeholders at the right time, in order to ensure success. Ultimately this was a huge learning part of the project, whereby we have now noted that it is critical to not underestimate the planning phase of compiling a thorough service catalogue before implementing the tool," states February.
BMC's RemedyForce is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, regulated and designed based on the ITIL best practice framework and according to February was not always befitting to Clicks' operation at times. This restricted the team somewhat (and still does) from customising or making changes to the base code that its feels could add value to its business. To assist in any limitations this has created, Clicks has invested in a dedicated internal resource that has developed an intimate knowledge and understanding of the system by means of following community forums, enabling local administration of the Clicks hosted environment and its data.
A fundamental mind shift for the central IT service team is that business itself is starting to see the benefits using the tool. According to February it wasn't long after the system went live that managers of various parts of the business approached the team and logged various requests to assist them tracking queries and tasks in their respective areas, from distribution centres, to HR Payroll queries and to assist with the employee onboarding process, to mention but a few.
"Making use of RemedyForce self-service templates definitely changed our world and presents a huge potential in this day and age for driving down operating costs, which is always the basis of budget discussions. RemedyForce now helps us to consolidate service call tracking, not just within IT but also across multiple departments within the business and has turned head office into a single, shared National Store Support Centre (NSSC)," he adds.
February says it is a year down the line and the team is still running a full schedule of change requests enhancing the current RemedyForce environment, which he believes will be an ongoing process. He is also a firm believer of using tools as vanilla as possible, and not giving people too many options to change things. He says that when you can use an existing best practice, why change it?
Continual service improvement
The team regularly consult with the business users and review processes as part of continual service improvement and is currently working on simplifying the self-service templates in a bid to reduce or optimise the number of options that a user needs to select before identifying or reporting a problem, something that the intuitive nature of RemedyForce is assisting with.
"Looking ahead we want to use the tool as a single source of information, align it to business, departmental and people's KPIs, which we can then drive and measure. There is a perception within the business that IT gets the big bucks because of the size of our budget. By using the tool we want to be able to quantify and justify why we need that 'big budget', to continue to deliver a world-class service with a more proactive approach, and I believe RemedyForce can help us do that if correctly configured and integrated
"We are also creating unified performance dashboards, to extract more quantifiable statistics from the system and use this to not only show our success to business but also use it as a yardstick to improve ourselves" ends February.
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