Sometimes, when an IT tool reaches the end of its life, it touches off an unintentional journey that reaps considerable rewards. Such was the case for Pacific Life Insurance Co.'s help desk ticketing system in 2005. "Since the vendor stopped supporting the application, we became dependent on third-party entities for configuration and maintenance," recounts James Thomas, the Newport Beach, Calif.-based carrier's director of service management for IT. "Plus, there were many manual service processes that we wanted to automate."
After targeting the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) as a best practices framework, Pacific Life ($110 billion in total assets) began a search for ITIL-based solutions in mid-2005. "Our goal was to adopt ITIL-based processes, regardless of the technology platform," Thomas notes. "We evaluated seven solutions and selected BMC's Remedy IT Service Management [ITSM] Suite because it was one of the few that made the ITIL connection."
Although Pacific Life envisioned moving all five of its IT departments onto Houston-based BMC's platform, the initial effort, which kicked off in December 2005, focused on corporate IT. "To start, we created high-level road maps around our own service management processes," Thomas explains. "Developing our internal processes in line with the BMC tool was integral to the deployment."
Coincidently, a new version of Remedy was released. "Although version 6 was very mature, 7.0 offered greater longevity and better alignment with the ITIL framework," says Thomas. "So we settled on 7.0, even though working with such a new version ultimately resulted in a longer implementation cycle."
To support the Remedy deployment, Pacific Life invested in several HP (Palo Alto, Calif.) application, database and Web servers running the Microsoft (Remond, Wash.) Windows Server 2000 operating system and SQL database.
For the most part, solution partners performed integration tasks while Pacific Life contributed leadership, documentation and training, according to Thomas, who notes that customization was minimized throughout the project. "We relied heavily on partners with appropriate deployment background and ITIL experience," says Thomas. "Also, Remedy was only customized in areas that were a necessity, because one of the project goals was reducing customization costs we'd encountered with maintaining the legacy system."
As integration proceeded during 2006, three of Pacific Life's smaller IT departments elected to migrate from the legacy system to the BMC platform as well. After an uneventful go-live in mid-2007, further configuration and customization occurred through the end of 2008.
The project's primary challenge, Thomas reports, was ITIL alignment. "Adopting a technology platform and a new processes framework was a major shift," he acknowledges. "Each of the service areas had developed their own sets of practices with their own terminologies and taxonomies, which we accommodated by customizing the tool. However, now that we've matured our internal ITIL processes, we'll adhere more to out-of-the box functionality when we adopt the next Remedy version."
Nevertheless, Pacific Life already has reaped more than $1.1 million in savings. "We've expedited case handling by five to 10 minutes per ticket," Thomas reports. "Issues are escalated and alerts acknowledged in about 10 minutes instead of an hour. In addition, we've increased the number of alerts resolved on the first call by more than 50 percent. And event deduplication has reduced items requiring engineer attention from more than 1,000 per day to less than 60."
Given the rewards, Pacific Life is evaluating migrating the remaining two IT departments onto the platform by early 2011. "We'll also be looking at BMC's new [software-as-a-service] model and comparing it with continuing to host the system in-house," Thomas says.
CASE STUDY SNAPSHOT
Company: Pacific Life Insurance Company (Newport Beach, Calif.; $110 billion in total assets).
Lines of Business: Life, annuities and mutual funds.
Vendor/Technology: BMC Software's (Houston) Remedy IT Service Management (ITSM) Suite.
Challenge: Replace legacy help desk system with an ITIL-compliant services management solution.
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio