In a nutshell:
- Leading ethical housing developer and landlord with 28,000 homes and 75,000 customers
- Working with Fruition Partners to implement ServiceNow across IT, HR, facilities and finance
- Self-service and automation of internal services are key deliverables
- Promising results already delivered
“Fruition’s experience is invaluable: ServiceNow is a hugely flexible platform and this is both a strength and a challenge, because there’s so much choice!”
Richard Strange, IT Operations Director
The Aster Group’s vision is to ensure that everyone has a home. As a not-for-dividend business, its purpose is to be an ethical housing developer and landlord to benefit society. The Group owns and maintains over 28,000 homes and provides housing, care and support services to 75,000 customers, including the elderly and vulnerable. With over 1300 employees and revenues exceeding £200 million, Aster is a substantial operation with an ambitious development programme that will see the development of 9,500 new homes over the next seven years.
Aster is working with Fruition Partners to implement ServiceNow across a range of service functions, including IT, HR, facilities and finance. The goals are to streamline workflows, support the automation of a range of key internal business services and, ultimately, enable change across the organisation. Although it’s relatively early days in the implementation, the project is beginning to bear promising fruit.
IT support just the starting point
Richard Strange, IT Operations Director at Aster, says the initial driver was the need to upgrade the group’s IT support, however, he adds, “there was an appetite for change across our other service functions, particularly facilities, HR and finance. Our goal as an organisation is to move from being dependent on traditional communications, such as email, phone and spreadsheets, to a self-service world where the delivery of key internal services is automated where appropriate.”
The group selected ServiceNow because, as Richard Strange says, “we identified that it could deliver the streamlined workflows and improved performance metrics that we were looking for, plus the potential for self-service and automation.
“In addition, as our workforce becomes more mobile operating from our many sites across the UK, we knew that ServiceNow could provide the flexibility and mobile access to support services that we need.”
Fruition Partners’ experience fits the bill
The group chose Fruition Partners to support its implementation because of its experience of implementing ServiceNow: the company was recently recognised for completing the most global deployments of the platform, and is the only global Gold Service Partner wholly dedicated to ServiceNow.
Richard Strange says, “Fruition’s experience is invaluable: ServiceNow is a hugely flexible platform and this is both a strength and a challenge, because there’s so much choice! Fruition are able to guide us in our choices, and help us phase our implementation so that everything works from the start. They’ve also run a number of workshops with our teams to help educate them about ServiceNow and ensure that key processes are reflected in the system.”
Positive response to roll-out
The ITSM platform was the first stage to be rolled out in March 2016; after a couple of initial hiccoughs, this went smoothly and the response from users was very positive. The platform enables the service desk to move away from email-driven requests for support, with the goal being fully-automated self-service in the not-too-distant future.
In July the application was extended to facilities – the function that looks after Aster’s own offices and other premises – where ServiceNow helps manage requests for repairs, upgrades and maintenance. In the autumn the HR functionality was next to go live, providing the HR team with a case load management tool that meant that they were no longer dependent on unstructured email for tracking and managing HR cases.
As it’s relatively early days, Richard Strange’s team are still working at putting metrics in place for the future. While the data is still building up, he says that “Across the board the feedback has been very positive: our colleagues really like the visibility of their incidents and being able to track their progress, whether that’s with IT, facilities or HR.”
Another benefit that has already emerged is the ability to see trends, for example in IT incidents and, as a result, take early action. Richard Strange comments, “We can see where the repeat offenders are much more easily, and so we can step in quickly to fix the issue and anticipate and prevent similar problems arising in the future.”
The success of the project is reflected in the take-up of licences which doubled in the first three months since the platform went live and continues to grow. “It’s gone much more quickly than we expected,” says Richard Strange, “and we’re having to scale up the team fast to meet demand.”
The focus for the next phase of development is to drive the move to self-service through an increased choice of products and services available via the service catalogue. The team will also be looking at integrating their ServiceNow application across the different functions, for example to automate and streamline the process when a new employee starts work, a time when IT, HR and facilities all have roles to play.
This cross-organisation automation and streamlining will be aided by the finance function joining the ServiceNow platform in the next few months. Again, this will remove the dependency on email and enable employees access to a self-service portal for things like querying an invoice or ordering a new credit card.
Beyond that, there are a number of other support functions within the business, such as project management and business solutions, which have expressed an interest in moving over to ServiceNow and Richard Strange is evaluating the timescales for doing this.
“It’s early days, but it’s clear that Fruition and ServiceNow are already helping us transform service delivery at Aster,” concludes Richard Strange.