ITIL shapes help-desk overhaul at JPMorgan Chase

The best practice framework paid dividends when a £2.5bn outsourcing deal with IBM was terminated and the bank had to rebuild its in-house IT operations.


Help desk operations are no small matter at JPMorgan Chase, which runs seven sites that handle some 3 million IT service calls per year.

Following its 2004 merger with Bank One and the end of its $5bn (£2.5bn) outsourcing contract with IBM Global Services, JPMorgan Chase faced the challenges of consolidating dozens of IT tools, streamlining existing processes and building in-house a consistent, mature, global service desk.

Once IT executives embarked on the service-desk improvement project, they found the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best-practices framework could help achieve the company's goals of reduced complexity and better customer satisfaction.

"We weren't using the term ITIL or COBIT at the time, but we were talking about documenting processes and doing everything consistently around the world," says Robert Barnes, global vice president at JPMorgan Chase.

With 700 people reporting to him, Barnes says spreading the word on consistent processes became a top priority. "I was expecting to see a lot of efficiencies and consolidation of processes. Depending on the region, we didn't have the same people doing the same tasks, so we had to be flexible to a degree to make it work."

Barnes found that the processes laid out in ITIL aligned with plans to improve incident priority management at JPMorgan Chase. He says he wanted to be able to pull teams together more easily, respond to three levels of incident severity, and more quickly address and resolve customer calls. The goal was to have the seven disparate service desks operate transparently as one to customers, and doing so required that he dedicate people on staff to champion the adoption of the processes laid out in ITIL.

"In the old days, I would say, 'Let's figure out what process is not working and change it,' but we didn't have all our processes fully documented at that time," Barnes says. "There is a challenge in getting people to first understand they have to document everything, and then the best practices become a living and breathing creature that need to be consistently maintained."

His team focused on getting incident, problem and change-management processes in place that would best suit the global customer base. With the processes laid out, reducing the number of tools in use across the company's locations became a priority. Because of the geographic locations of service desks and the acquisition of different tools via merged companies, Barnes says JPMorgan Chase had four incident-management tools, 14 change-control systems, four knowledge management tools and 25 request tools.

Today JPMorgan Chase has a streamlined set of processes and fewer systems that deliver "very mature metrics", Barnes says. Now JPMorgan Chase has just one incident-management tool, one change-control system, one knowledge management tool and four request tools. Barnes says having standard tools helps his team focus on resolving issues rather than learning the differences among technologies.

"Our goal continues to be to reduce our impact to the customer internally and externally. We will continue to work toward reducing our mean time to repair," he says.

To date, the service desk maintains 93% customer satisfaction ratings and a 75% first-call resolution rate (which means the customer problem is solved with the first line of support at JPMorgan Chase without requiring input from a higher staff member).

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