Managing growth, remaining competitive

Having recently floated on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:ADH), Adairs is recognised as one of Australia's leading specialist retailers of manchester and homewares with a comprehensive range of bed linen, bedding products, towels, cushions, throws, homewares, wall art and furniture.

With forecast sales of over $236 million in the 2016 financial year and a published growth strategy to open 8-12 new stores every year for the foreseeable future, the company’s IT team had been battling bravely with out-dated tools to improve its delivery of service to the business.

New tool needed for ITIL

According to Trichelle Jordan, Adairs’ Applications and Business Improvement Manager, the Technology team had out-matured its existing IT service management toolset as it began aligning its operations with the ITIL best practice IT service management framework.

“I was brought on in February 2014 to develop a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the business and to implement ITIL,” Jordan said. “It very quickly became apparent that we needed a better tool to deliver the new Request Fulfilment, Incident, Problem and Change management processes that had been developed.

“After 18 months, we had all of the processes in place but we had no tool to set a benchmark for our performance and to measure our improvement against that base. We also had no way to provide transparency on how we were tracking against the expectations of the business under the SLA.

“We were heavily reliant on manual processes, had very little real-time visibility of technology and Service Desk performance and we were struggling to efficiently manage the escalation of Incidents affecting our service delivery.

“Previously we had no escalation process, no clear thoroughfare between the different processes and we had no reporting tools. Our old system was effectively just a call-logging system where you entered calls, assigned a name to that call and that was it.”

Choosing the right tool

Adairs assessed four different service management tools looking for the best fit to meet its key requirements of alignment with ITIL, interactive and real-time dashboards, a managed escalation capability and the capacity to set pre-defined thresholds with automated alerts prior to SLA breaches.

“Integrated ITIL processes were also an important requirement so that when an Incident came through we could easily invoke any other ITIL process from that Incident” Jordan said. “In addition, we wanted the tool to be highly flexible in its out-of-the-box functionality. I didn’t want to have to access the core code just to configure processes to our exact requirements.

“Another key factor that was taken into consideration, was whether we would be able to implement the tool to other areas of the business in the future. We want the service management improvement we bring into the Technology team, to be replicable in other areas of service delivered to the business.”

Simple, familiar and flexible

When measured against these criteria, Adairs decided that Ivanti Software was best suited to underscore its ambitious service management improvement objectives. Jordan said it was not a difficult choice based on the toolset’s ease-of-use, flexibility and raw functionality.

“Ivanti’s user interface presented welcome familiarity and flexibility to us,” Jordan said. “We found it simple to manipulate and configure to get what we wanted, where other tools we looked at were far more complex.

“From the beginning, we felt very comfortable working with Ivanti and its implementation partner Fusion5. They seemed to understand our business, our challenges and our objectives better than the alternative solution providers.”

Rapid deployment, immediate results

Once the decision was made to go with Ivanti, the toolset was rapidly deployed by Fusion5 and the Service Desk team were immediately up and running with managing new Service Request Management, Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management processes.

“We just came up with a date we were comfortable with and turned it on,” Jordan said. “This was a deliberate strategy because we didn’t want to get too distracted by the configuration.

“Our plan was to just start using the tool, determine for ourselves what was working for us, what wasn’t and what we wanted to do next. There were only a few minor teething issues and they were quickly resolved within hours of going live.”

Having set its SLA thresholds within the tool, Adairs’ Service Desk was able to immediately start gaining efficiency and performance benefits. Every team member now had easy-to-decipher dashboard alerting them to the most pressing issues, a social media stream keeping them abreast of activity pertaining to logged calls and service management in general.

“Our dashboards are colour-coded so that it makes it simple to ascertain what needs attention as a priority. Our Team leaders have a complete insight into their team’s activity, making it a much more proactive approach, rather than reactive” Jordan said.

“We barely had to tweak anything at all to immediately start getting a return on the investment. The only thing we had to attend to was the way that escalation process was configured. Fusion5 customised this for us which changed the interface slightly on a few different forms enabling us to see the information we wanted.”

Seamless process integration

Through Ivanti’s single view dashboards, Adairs now has seamless integration of all its ITIL processes so that when an Incident turns into a Problem and when that Problem requires a Change, there is a full audit.

“When an Incident comes through to the Service Desk it goes into an unassigned queue and we have a defined SLA on that queue,” Jordan said. “We have implemented escalation rules based on status and priority.”

“Our Service Desk are using standardised ITIL process of initial diagnosis, categorisation, prioritisation etc. If we establish that the Incident is a priority or is informative, we immediately use the social board within Ivanti to notify all stakeholders of our current issue.

For Incidents that are declared a master and/or are a Problem, it is very simple to create a Problem record from the Incident, and assign that to the Problem Management team.

Device discovery

Jordan said that she has also just started to use Ivanti Software’s Network Discovery tool that automatically tracks and maps a full inventory log of all of the devices on the network.

“We have identified the opportunity to create some business value from this,” she said. “This function will allow us to practice Asset and Configuration Management as well as assisting in the financial reporting requirements on our fixed asset register.

“Our finance department currently use an Excel spreadsheet as a fixed asset register. This houses every device that has ever come in and out these doors. With HEAT, we can now discover what is currently in production, allocate each device to a User/Service.

“That is a far more efficient way to financially manage fixed IT assets and it saves a lot of time and heartache for the finance department.

“It is also tied into all of our Incidents, Problems and Changes to do with these devices which means that over time we can start building a picture of root causes of repeating Incidents and Problems in regards to particular types of hardware which helps shape prudent procurement decisions further down the line.”

“It makes it much easier to identify what services/devices will be affected by an Incident/Problem and/or a Change by using the Relationship map. Making it a much more proactive management style.”

Adairs store font Adairs store font

With this new HEAT solution, we have unprecedented capability to centralise all of our service management into the one toolset with the ability to manage the full range of business support services such as finance, facilities and maintenance, customer service and potentially more.

Trichelle Jordan, Applications and Business Improvement Manager

Racking up the benefits

From the moment Adairs went live with their HEAT Software implementation, they have been racking up operational efficiencies, service improvement and increased productivity from the Service Desk and technical teams.

“The features HEAT offered us straight out of the box were impressive so we knew they would quickly make a huge difference to our service management operations,” Jordan said.

“As well as making us more efficient and accountable, it is allowing us to gain additional return on from the technology that we have already invested in through improved management as well as continually improving its performance and value to the business.

“Another great benefit of this tool is its simplicity. Anybody, whether they be a Service Desk team member, technicians or administrators, can easily get the hang of it and start using it effectively. No great training is required and from an administration point of view, you don’t have to be a SQL expert to change and re-configure things on the fly.

“We are continually developing our Service Catalogue, being able to generate work flows that incorporate authorisation, task allocation and delivery timeframes. This represents a much easier process for us than the previous paper-based processes we were using. We can manage expectations much better and all the information we need to fulfil these requests is captured accurately the first time.”

“It is a very flexible system that allows you to create whatever functionality and visibility you desire”

Managing knowledge

Adairs also has far better capability to manage knowledge built up about Incident resolutions, business disruption, future Changes and root causes of Problems. Real-time social conversations are streamed onto each team member’s dashboard with information about present state, impending changes, escalation alerts and links to blog posts.

“We use it quite heavily,” Jordan said of the social feed. “We like to exchange information regularly and it works well for team members to absorb information at a glance when on the phone.

“We have certain processes throughout the day that are scheduled to be completed. The live information stream lets other team members know the status of those processes, whether they have been completed or otherwise. We also use the social board to share the facts about current Problems or master Incidents.

“We have also assigned one team member who is responsible for managing that knowledge through longer blog posts about recurring issues or appropriate fixes. All of those articles are archived and searchable through tags and keywords while you can also pin certain Incidents, Problems, Changes or other relevant data to the article or post and vice-versa.”

Potential centralised business services

HEAT is also allowing Adairs to start looking at how their service management across the business can be improved.

“With the benefits we are clearly going to deliver to our IT service operations, we are now looking to leverage the toolset and our maturing capability in service management to deliver gains elsewhere in the business,” Jordan said. “It will not be too difficult for us to adapt HEAT to other business services.

“The more business processes we can automate and monitor in real time, the more efficiency and productivity we can generate for the broader group of service providing departments.

“With this new HEAT solution, we have unprecedented capability to centralise all of our service management into the one toolset with the ability to manage the full range of business support services such as finance, facilities and maintenance, customer service and potentially more. 

Supporting good board decisions

As a publicly-listed company Adairs also benefits from better governance over its investment in IT infrastructure and IT service management. Over time as the data builds and knowledge is developed and retained, HEAT allows for much easier management and real time access to analysing and leveraging it for business improvement.

“We are far more efficient and proactive in identifying and tracking our major Incidents and then sharing that information with the wider support team and user base.

“We can also now report on each team member’s activities to justify headcount, read trends and more accurately forecast IT costs. HEAT can also assist us to identify where there are deficiencies within our team so that we can identify where attention and training is required for improvement.

“There is now full transparency so that we can make good strategic decisions and be accountable for our performance, set benchmarks and actively embrace a culture of continual improvement.”

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