State and local government information technology (IT) officials spoke about their progress modernizing IT service and customer service delivery at ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2019 conference on May 8.

All share common goals – creating streamlined, efficient workflows; and driving improved customer and employee experiences by reducing complexity and updating legacy systems.

The panelists – North Carolina Department of IT Enterprise Applications Services Manager Chris King, Iowa Communications Network Chief of Network Services Ryan Mulhall, and Metropolitan Airports Commission System Analyst, Brian Rosenberger – opened by discussing tough obstacles that each have faced, particularly system sprawl.

“Our initial goal was really to reduce the amount of systems that we utilize,” Mulhall said. “We have about 48 systems that we used previously to run and manage our business.” Mulhall said most of these systems are not IT.

The state-owed Iowa Communications Network runs like a business, on revenue, so the ability to gain efficiencies, automate, and reduce the number of supported systems helps the bottom line. Looking forward, Mulhall and team plan to automate service provisioning so customers can, for example, change their bandwidth subscription, or order a new service.

At the Metropolitan Airports Commission, “initially, we were looking at just trying to remove some silos,” Rosenberger said. The team is lean – and wanted to be as proactive as possible and ensure tight coordination and collaboration with the business stakeholders. While the Metropolitan Airports Commission had been doing a good job with documentation, the system was essentially just storing that documentation. Incidents and service requests were kept in the same area. They did have a change process, but too few used the process.

To address these challenges, Mulhall and Rosenberger said their organizations adopted ServiceNow in 2017. Both focused on improving IT service management (ITSM), and customer service management (CSM), and moving away from legacy systems and processes.

King said his team needed to replace a tool that was in use for approximately 15 years. The tool provided little configurability and didn’t give them the desired visibility into their data. “It was a ticket bucket,” King said. The system did that well, but they wanted additional capabilities.

While the first North Carolina state agencies went live in December 2018, Central IT launched ServiceNow ITSM approximately one month ago. King explains that the Central IT group offers ServiceNow as an enterprise service to their nine customer state agencies, who are each using ServiceNow in different ways.

Panel moderator, Chris Dilley, Chief Architect for State and Local Government at ServiceNow, asked King about his plans with ServiceNow in the future. King is already seeing process improvement, better visibility, and, maybe the best measure of success – enthusiasm for more.

“We’ve been live two weeks with ITSM, but already, I’m getting knocks at the door for, ‘Well, when are we going to look at facilities? When are we going to look at HR? So for us, … one of the big things was, we didn’t just buy [ServiceNow for] ITSM. We bought a platform.”

While they are still addressing growing pains, “getting the new car smell out,” King shared they have team members coming in who want to “look at knowledge [management], at continuous service improvement, at dashboards and reporting, etc.”

At the Iowa Communications Network, Mulhall said their first project with ServiceNow was creating a customer portal to enable customers to order voice, video, data, and internet services.

“We got to the point where our customers were able to interact with us through the portal – order services, report outages, and things like that … we’ve never had that capability before,” Mulhall said. Their team then focused on building out workflows with ITSM, for example provisioning circuits; and building out their service catalog.

“Before we went live, everything came in as an email,” Mulhall said. And, many of those incoming messages were for requests that the service desk simply routed. With the new portal and ITSM, some of this routing is automated, and the service desk gains more time to focus on the incidents themselves, where the attention should be, vs “being a triage show.”

Mulhall highlighted a comment from earlier in the day, “Automation doesn’t put you out of a job. It gives you the freedom to be relevant.”

As he looks to incorporate CSM, Mulhall says it, “will give us the ability to allow our customers to see everything going on … not just the individual user that reported [an issue] … but being able to see their outages, their incidents, as well as the orders … Again, customer centric was always the main focus, making it easy for our customers first …”

The good news, Mulhall says, is that they are well on their way to improving experiences for their customers as well as employees.

Rosenberger has worked with ServiceNow’s CSM capabilities, using them to automate operations and eliminate paper-based processes. While the implementation is still young, the team is working on the building the foundation, and then with their roadmap from 2020 forward, where they will focus on process automation for their internal business customers. He said they have started with HR – where the team automated the onboarding process, replacing paper-based form with a digital workflow.

Another initial project is with IT procurement. “Previously, we had a process called the tech request email,” Rosenberger shared. This approach was not optimal, as it didn’t provide visibility into request status. The team now uses a portal for these requests, providing the ability to aggregate the information, track status, and deliver better experiences for the requestors and the team managing the requests.

Rosenberger and team will be looking at CSM for the more than 700 companies that do business at the airport, ensuring they are collaborating and communicating with these customers as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Based on their experiences to date, all three panelists said that good communication and careful goal road-mapping is important as they manage the modernization process and work to provide simple, user-friendly services aligned with business/mission needs.

All felt the pain associated with organization change, particularly as they launched initial projects. Rosenberger stressed the importance of close collaboration with all the stakeholder groups to overcome resistance. “We are going to staff meetings, letting them know what we are doing … asking them questions, getting them involved,” he said.

“Ensure you have roles in place and process owners in place,” Rosenberger added.

King emphasized that, “organizational change is less about technology and more about the people who use it … make sure your organization is ready for the change.” And, that it is crucial to focus on the people going through the change. He also advises taking care not to bite off more than you can chew, particularly as news spreads about successful projects.

Paying close attention to the partners you choose for the implementation is also critical, Mulhall says, especially in the public sector. Mulhall recommends taking the time to interview and really understand their strengths and weaknesses relative to this type of project, and not settling for the lowest bid.

Dilley works with organizations across the country.  He says ServiceNow helps organizations create a journey roadmap and a process to ingest the requests and build a project pipeline.

Teams will come who, “want to change their processes, and drive more efficiency,” Dilley says. “It’s important to be able to show where and how the requests align with organizational priorities.”

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