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ESRIN unifies global services supporting mission-critical space exploration programs


Requests fulfilled via self-service

Maintained reputation & SLAs during period of industry reform

Maintained reputation & SLAs during period of industry reform

Reduces risk of regulatory fines

Reduces risk of regulatory fines

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. ESA has specialised centres across Europe—one is the Centre for Earth Observation (a.k.a. the European Space Research Institute or ESRIN). ESRIN uses ServiceNow to provide better visibility into service requests

ESA commitment to space exploration delivers critical research data 
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Operating on behalf of 22 member states, its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. 

The 2,200 staff members at ESA include scientists, engineers, information technology specialists, and administrative personnel. Together they drive programmes that are designed to find out more about Earth, its immediate space environment, the solar system, and the universe, as well as to develop satellite-based technologies and services. 

ESA has specialised centres across Europe, one of which is the ESA Centre for Earth Observation (also known as the European Space Research Institute or ESRIN). Based in Frascati, Italy, ESRIN is where operations and exploitation of Earth Observation satellites are managed. 

ESRIN is also home to the world’s largest database of environmental data for Europe and Africa, offering an incredibly valuable resource for international and national agencies, with data on the atmosphere, oceans, ice caps, and more. 

With thousands of users relying on ESRIN data, service desk insight is vital for ongoing operations
To manage its data and operation, ESRIN takes a multi-sourcing approach, contracting more than 20 suppliers to provide technical services for customer support, software development and maintenance, infrastructure, and network operations.

“We have more than 10,000 external users who access and use our data, so keeping our service up and running at all times is essential,” says Mats Önnestam, Service and Configuration Manager, ESA. “We had a big challenge trying to fit together all our service elements and contractors, as we lacked an end-to-end view of the service desk.”

ServiceNow provides a single platform to seamlessly manage service requests internally and through contracted suppliers 
ESRIN turned to ServiceNow for a service platform that would give ownership and control internally, but that could be used by all contractors. 

The organisation has integrated its multiple contracted service elements into one managed service, linking and standardising cross-provider request, incident, and change processes. About 75 users from contractor organisations access the system, with different profiles set up for groups to determine what they can read, write, or update. 

“The governance of the complex relationships among a large number of different contractors has always proved to be challenging, but ServiceNow has removed the barriers,” says Mats. “The integration of ServiceNow with our existing contractor interface was seamless and we have a best-of-breed management tool-set based on ITIL standards, with intelligently-applied workflows.” 

ESRIN has removed the challenge of changing contractors, which used to mean the redefinition of service processes, the redesign and implementation of a new set of supporting tools, and much more. The transition from one contractor to a new one often took several months, exposing ESRIN to the risk of service degradation and the loss of critical data. 

As Mats highlights, today the situation is very different: “ServiceNow allows us to integrate new service providers in a matter of weeks, not months, and gives us a continuous single system of record for managing all our contracted service providers.”

Self-service skyrockets and productivity increases as people shift from email to an interactive system
ESA launched a new web-based customer interface system, called TellUs, supporting the following processes: Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, Release Management, Request Fulfilment, and Knowledge Management. 

Any external user, once authenticated via the centralised Single Sign-On, can access information services and interface with the Earth Observation help team by submitting a request, reporting an issue—such as an outage—or opening a complaint, using customised web forms. 

The portal is backed by a CMDB, with more than 3,500 configuration item (CI) records and 23 CI classes. Users can also search the knowledge base and catalogue to find information they need.

European Space Research Institute (ESRIN)
European Space Research Institute (ESRIN)
Frascati, Italy
Up to 5000 employees

ServiceNow gives us a continuous single system of record for managing all our contracted service providers.

Mats Önnestam

Configuration Manager

“We created a significantly improved experience for our external users accessing our data and services from the public internet,” says Mats. “Productivity for our first-line operators also improved, thanks to the full integration of the service contact email into the system.”

More than 12,000 requests per year are received, both through the TellUs portal and via email, with all incoming emails integrated into the system so they are processed using the same workflows. As TellUs has increased in functionality and ease of use, the ratio of self-service to email has shifted from 50:50 to 80:20 in favour of TellUs. 

“Self-service has been a great success,” says Mats. “Users are interacting with the portal, checking tickets and logging on to see the progress of incidents or requests. The level of interaction is very encouraging.”

Real-time insights on demand, delivery, and service operation health cuts reporting time and empowers managers
Real-time reporting is a major benefit for ESRIN, providing a depth of insight that simply wasn’t possible before. 

“Previously, we didn’t even have data on the number of incidents or change requests and it was incredibly difficult to gain an understanding of the demands from users and our performance in delivery,” says Mats. “ServiceNow gives us two over-riding benefits: control and understanding.” 

The requirement to spend significant time creating weekly, monthly, and annual reports in PowerPoint has been removed completely. Managers are now able to access dashboards for a real-time check-in on the health of the service operation, drawing on the single system of record for specific insights related to their role. 

“Our reporting capabilities are now much more elaborate,” says Mats. “Automated reports are sent to operations managers and service coordinators on aspects such as the volume of work and number of reported incidents. For the first time, we can also make end-to-end information available to the leadership team.”

ESRIN will enhance service delivery with feedback, more automation, and analytics with ServiceNow
Mats and his team have identified a number of ways to extend the capabilities of ServiceNow to further streamline the organisation and drive greater efficiency and control. These include enhancements to the self-service portal to make the user experience more intuitive and adding a way for users to leave feedback once a ticket has closed. 

Another area is around service mapping and bringing in ServiceNow® Performance Analytics, to gain a richer understanding of service performance, and adding greater automation to service workflows. 

“ServiceNow is a long-term technology choice and our platform for the future,” says Mats. “We have a particularly complex use case and ServiceNow has delivered a highly adaptable, cutting-edge platform that is ideally suited to our requirements.”

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