Travis Perkins has completed one of the largest deployments of ServiceNow’s IT service management tool in the UK, supporting its ambitious business transformation plans with faster responses to end-user IT issues and proactive monitoring of core applications.
The Northampton-based builders’ merchant and home improvements retailer is in the midst of a five-year expansion plan, targeting a doubling of its £5 billion revenues.
Underpinning its strategy to grow its stable of 19 businesses, including consumer brands Wickes and Tile Giant, is a multi-year project to modernise its legacy IT environment. This has involved enhancing multichannel and point of sale (POS) systems, replacing outdated applications and infrastructure, adopting cloud computing services, and investing in a bring your own device (BYOD) scheme for its 24,000 staff.
The ServiceNow deployment has been part of this overhaul, according to Travis Perkins head of the service development, Andy Garrett, and has helped improve IT support as the business undergoes technology-led change.
Garrett says that the tool has resulted in a number of benefits. For example, it has reduced the time taken to respond to the 30,000 calls a month received by the service desk, down from three minutes with its previous ITSM tool. This has resulted in fewer abandoned requests.
“Those three minutes have gone down to a 20-30 second average speed of answer – better than the industry standard - and the abandonment rate has gone from 20 percent to less than 5 percent,” says Garrett.
He added: “It is about reacting to the business demand; we are not necessarily achieving the business growth, we are enabling it.
“[The wider company] is able to take on more business because we can carry on supporting them. If we were in a position where IT just couldn’t support it because we were drowning in the current volumes we have got, [we] would not be able to acquire new businesses and therefore improve growth.”
Replacing legacy ITSM tool
Travis Perkins partnered with ServiceNow specialist Partners in IT, now part of FruitionPartners, in 2013 to roll out the software as a service (Saas) tool. This meant replacing a decade-old HEAT ITSM system that lacked certain functionality required by the service delivery team. The company also decided against products such as BMC Remedy software which were not available as a Saas model.
"ServiceNow was chosen because it is a cloud tool," says Garrett. "It gave us everything we wanted today, but also a future vision in terms of capability. So all the standard ITIL terms of best practice we need for the service desk: incdent management, change management, problem management. It ticked all those boxes."
The wide-ranging project, mostly completed in March this year, involved a number of separate elements. Foremost was creation of self-service portal – named SolveIT – which allowed staff to log IT incidents and track the resolution of issues. It also provides an information repository for staff to attempt to solve problems themselves, rather than contacting the service desk.
ServiceNow also allowed Travis Perkins to create a central database to map the existence and relationships between more than 60,000 IT devices and pieces of infrastructure. This configuration management database (CMDB) allows the IT delivery team to track devices and respond more quickly to problems by having detailed information within easy reach of service delivery staff.
In addition to this, ServiceNow’s event management module is used to monitor systems to mitigate the effects of outages and service failures. This means proactively identifying problems with key applications, such as those covering POS and sales data.
Garrett says: “Whereas in the old world we would get the end-user telling us that a certain system has gone down, with ServiceNow it is about that proactive-ness of seeing it before the business tells us. This is why we are armed up with the information up front, as compared to our legacy systems which didn’t know and was more reactive.