| World Wide Technology, Inc.
We're spending more time negotiating and getting better pricing on our service
agreements, instead of being up against a deadline and dealing with the latest
vendor contacting us to renew.
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The World Wide Technology, Inc. case study is based on an interview with Sarah Goellner, Director of IT Governance at World Wide
Founded in 1990, WWT has grown from a small startup to a world-class
organization approaching $3 billion in revenue and over 1,000 highly trained
We're a systems integrator providing technology products, services and
supply chain solutions to our customers who include the federal government,
Fortune 500 companies and large telcos. We have 13 warehouse
distribution centers across the United States and sales offices around the
Within IT, we've got about 120 people, all of them here in St. Louis. That
includes the service desk; traditional IT operations with DBAs, infrastructure
and end-user computing; and an applications team that includes developers
and business system analysts. We run Oracle operations with our ERP
systems and we have a standard development staff supporting a variety of
technologies like Oracle, Java and Web messaging integration.
We think we're a pretty good IT organization. At any given time, we have
about 60 active IT projects, not to mention the significant queues of support
and minor incidents that we're trying to manage with 120 people.
My own responsibilities include service management, enterprise architecture
and project management.
Time to rethink IT
Coming off a significant upgrade of our ERP system, we enacted our "IT
Optimization Goal," with the objective of rethinking IT and running it like a
business. Frankly, though, we needed to organize our efforts, and limit the
firefighting. As a growing team, we tended to go from one emergency to the next, and while we excel at rallying our troops and
delivering good results in those conditions, it's an
exhausting way to run IT. So, we decided to
organize our department better, with these goals:
- Streamline our support process so we can focus
our resources on projects and enhancements and
drive value for the business. We do feel lucky that
we are an organization where IT is a partner with
the business. Management understands that in
order to work efficiently and grow, we need to
automate our business processes as much as
- Share resources more effectively, reduce our
expenses and see our asset base more clearly.
- Centralize data on all the assets that we were
maintaining. Different infrastructure teams had
their asset database in an Excel spreadsheet, but
there was no centralization of license
management or vendor agreements.
- Consolidate tools. For internal incident tracking,
we were using the same customer service
application the company used for external
customer inquiries. And, our application
development team was using another custom
application to track the movement of code
through the environment.
So we had these homegrown applications, neither of
which we were actively maintaining, and neither of
which were meeting our needs. Since our primary
focus was on providing projects and support
management for the business, tending to our own,
internal IT needs around a tool set had never been a
priority. We made it clear that we wanted to make
improvements in IT, but it took too much of our time
to maintain these two tools.
First, the processes
So to get away from the firefighting and move
beyond the homegrown tools, we looked at the
market and educated ourselves around ITIL. We
saw this as an opportunity to standardize a couple of
inefficient, disparate processes that different groups
were using at different levels of maturity and, even
more important, to put in place processes for
approaching and resolving incidents, communicating
back to the business, prioritizing our work and
moving changes through the environment.
I created a small IT governance team with two coworkers
and we began educating ourselves on ITIL.
We brought in an outside company to do an
awareness class for all of our managers so they
understood where we were going and why we were
spending time on this initiative, and then we selected
"process owners" throughout the organization. We
wanted champions throughout IT who understood
those disparate processes and would make sure
that their needs were represented in our new
Next, we performed an internal, informal
assessment of our maturity in incident management,
change management and release management. We
found out that we had processes in place, but that
they were not documented or consistent. So, instead
of jumping straight into buying a new technology or
product, we started designing processes and relying
We had a lot of process work to do. We spent three
and a half to four months on incident management,
and about six months on change management.
Because we're a lean, light team, we compared
what we had to ITIL and asked ourselves, "What are
the big pieces of this? What are the must-haves?
How can we apply this to our environment?" Now,
we spent time understanding the material, but we're not the kind of company that will take a process flow
out of a book and simply apply it. We made sure that
the process owners bought in.
Next, the tool
We moved on to selecting tools to replace our
homegrown applications. We had been in talks with
Remedy for a couple of years, and there was some
momentum around it. In fact, before we were
introduced to ServiceNow, Remedy was
probably the path we would have taken. But what
always stopped us was the big-dollar figure around
the purchase. Other companies using large IT
management products told us about the need for a
significant support staff and the complexity of
customizing these applications. Every time we
compared an expenditure like that to the business
needs, it proved too expensive overall.
When we came across ServiceNow, we saw it
as a lighter-weight solution: less costly, more
flexible, easier to customize and easier to
implement. We were already customers of
Salesforce.com, so we were familiar and
comfortable with software-as-a-service (SaaS), and
we spent some time with ServiceNow to
understand them as a company. They spent time
with our executive team and we found a good match
between their culture and our own.
When we announced our selection of ServiceNow internally, we noted that it:
- was the most cost-effective solution
- was evaluated and approved by a cross-functional
IT team comprising operations, the IT
governance team, the applications team,
managers, associate level people and senior
- provided best ITIL practices and good
functionality around Web services
- could address, right out of the box, 85% of the
enhancements we had proposed for our
homegrown incident management application
- offered very good reporting, which we did not
have at all with our homegrown applications
- would involve a smooth integration path, even as
a hosted application
- had tremendous potential not only for configuring
the modules for incident, change, release and so
forth that come out of the box, but also for
building our own modules and applications
- had a record of innovative enhancements and
periodic releases of new functionality, so we saw
that we could grow with them
- fit our company best in ease of use for our
employees, applied to our processes and allowed
us to customize the GUI.
Success to date in each application
Over the past two years, we've implemented four
ServiceNow applications: incident
management, change management, configuration
management and asset management.
One of our goals was to have better collaboration
and communication between the application
development organization and IT operations. And,
by standardizing processes, we've seen a lot of
progress in that area.
Our first phase encompassed incident management
and configuration management, and we now have
processes that all of the teams use, including how
we prioritize our work. We have improved analytics
and reporting so managers can see the workload of
each individual. The service desk now has a much
easier way to understand and assign new requests.
In the past, that was very difficult, but now they can
take advantage of the CMDB and its integration with
incident management to see how to assign an issue
based on the application or the configuration items.
Our employees can create and check the status of
their own IT incidents and changes through the
Our second phase included change management
and asset management. I think change management
was the biggest ITIL leap for us as an organization.
In the past, we didn't log operational changes at all,
and the application development changes were a
disparate process. Now we get together once a
week as an entire IT organization and discuss
significant changes, schedule them and prioritize
them. We have a standard way of assessing the risk
of all of our changes as one IT team, and we use
ServiceNow to facilitate that entire process.
Thanks to asset management, we finally have a
central repository of both our logical and physical
assets, and it's integrated with the other modules. As
an infrastructure person, I can see that a
configuration item (CI) is tied into a contract, so if I
need support on this server, here's who I call, here's
the level of maintenance I have, and here's what it
costs to bring an engineer on site. Before, I would
have had to run around and collect the information
from several different people.
Our entire IT organization uses ServiceNow; all
of IT, operations and the application development
group, currently about 120 people. Also, since we
are a systems integrator, we have a managed
services offering with an engineering staff providing
support primarily for Cisco technologies, and we
manage that through ServiceNow. They too
need incident management, change management,
release management and asset management.
The real win for us is that configuration and asset
management are on a single platform with other
We've saved a lot of money in reduced management
time thanks to ServiceNow. Before we had this
consistent process and single tool set, our managers
and team leaders used to spend a lot of time
gathering a hodgepodge of data in spreadsheets, updating this, sending out that information, and so
on. After massaging it, they had to spend time
administering our work, prioritizing, escalating, and
reporting status. Now that's all logged in a single
fulfillment and different items are assigned to
different individuals in different groups. Instead of
gathering data, we can report on them and spend
our time making decisions on them.
Service desk saves us lots of time in figuring out
where the knowledge is, who supports a particular
configuration item and who can troubleshoot it. We
were able to retire our two homegrown applications,
which saved us a lot of time and maintenance, and
we can support more groups and processes than we
did before with the single ServiceNow application.
We also save management time and effort by
allowing ServiceNow to assure the data
integrity, operational recovery and overall disaster
recovery naturally as part of SaaS application..
ServiceNow has a certified data center, with
their own procedures around backup and recovery,
and we work with them to understand that and rely
on them to provide those services.
We've improved the timeliness of our contract
renewals now that we can see when maintenance
agreements are coming due. We're spending more
time negotiating and getting better pricing, instead of
being up against a deadline and dealing with the
latest vendor contacting us to renew.
The single, biggest area of improvement has been
the cooperation and teamwork between our
operations and application development teams.
Thanks to ITIL processes and meetings, we've
avoided many of the past situations in which we
wanted to make a change and did not understand
the impact that it would have on another team, or
didn't understand the need to schedule the change
around a major project or initiative.