CIO Kevin Harris describes a challenge ICW Group Insurance Companies (San Diego, Cal., $368 million GWP) faced in 2006: "We couldn't keep up with incidents flooding IT. Trouble tickets were open as long as six months. Our change management process protected production, but the surrounding ecosystem of tools was poorly integrated." Those tools included a helpdesk, access management database, and e-mail for tracking requests.
ICW Group, admitted in 50 states, consists of three property and casualty insurers. An IT department of 185 employees and 65 contractors supports those companies. The department operates mainframe and Windows servers, with over 400 servers each in production and QA. Separate teams handle either the application and database servers, or Web servers.
Early on, Harris brought in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) (High Wycombe, UK), an IT service management framework that dictates best practices. He says, "This decision put us on a path to manage the entire process suite using ITIL. To leverage the process, I needed a process management tool that fit our environment, number of users and budget." Eventually his team held "head-to-head" demos and pilots between products from Service-now.com (Solana Beach, Cal.) and Serena (Redwood City, Cal.). Service-now.com prevailed.
Harris explains the decision: "I wanted a kind of Swiss army knife for IT processes. Though ITIL's framework documents great processes like change management and incident management, what about invoice management or contract flow? I wanted a single tool that would enable us to build our own processes." Service-now.com supports all ITIL-based processes under a Web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) model that has impressed Harris by its ease of use. He terms the new interface "right click 'n' go": "You right click, open a new application, set up configuration items and within minutes to hours have a new application up and running."
Harris was also persuaded by Service-now.com's light implementation impact, requiring neither new hardware nor extensive training; and by the short drive between Service-now's headquarters and ICW Group — making in-person support convenient.
Tool configuration began in June 2007. Harris' team switched on the first module, for incident management, in September 2007.
Harris compares the difficulty of tracking incidents across multiple systems in the "old world" with the Service-now.com solution: "With a single point of communication and knowledge, we can now go to one spot, search and see all information related to a problem — hardware, software, trouble ticket, who called, who helped them."
Harris has had processes built into the new tool. "When an agent calls with an error message, a button click at the help desk always routes the call the same way, to the same person and escalation point." He says, "In training new staff, I put them in front of the Service-now tool and say, 'Follow the tool.' We've been able to systematize consistency, ease of training, and repeatability."
As for results, no trouble ticket is now open longer than six days. Service level agreement conformity is 98 percent. "We've decreased our wait time hundreds of percent, and I'm operating with 25 percent fewer helpdesk personnel," Harris says.
Tool of Choice
According to Harris, Service-now.com is becoming ICW Group's tool of choice for enabling small, orphan processes. "We've expanded the tool into line of business processes. For example, there's a check drawer application for the accounting department, and a notes and diary application being developed for claims."
The resulting reduced overhead in managing processes and reduced time needed to fix issues around bringing products to market improves ICW Group's ability to price products competitively. Harris concludes, "The net result is that we significantly increase overall customer satisfaction and importantly reinforce ICW Group's unique branded value proposition to elevate our independent agents and brokers in their clients' eyes."
Case Study Profile
company: ICW Group Insurance Companies (San Diego, Cal., $368 million gross written premiums)
lines of business: Multi-line P&C
vendor/technology: Service-now.com's (Solana Beach, Cal.) process management and application development tool.
challenge: Bring a backlog of IT incident tracking under control.