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In a nutshell:

  • Crossrail is building the new Elizabeth Line across London
  • Crossrail selected ServiceNow to replace outsourced IT support and management system
  • Future plans include supporting wind-down of Crossrail and transfer of operations to TfL

 “This has been a painless implementation, without huge overhead, which has really delivered results”
Alistair Goodall, Head of Applications and Portfolio Management

Crossrail Limited is building a new railway for London and the South East, running from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It is delivering 42km of new tunnels, 10 new stations and upgrading 30 more, while integrating new and existing infrastructure.

The £14.8 billion Crossrail project is Europe’s largest infrastructure project. Construction began in 2009 at Canary Wharf, and is now more than 80% complete.

The new railway, which will be known as the Elizabeth Line when services begin in central London in 2018, will be fully integrated with London’s existing transport network and will be operated by Transport for London (TfL). New state-of-the-art trains will carry an estimated 200 million passengers per year. The new service will speed up journey times, increase central London’s rail capacity by 10% and bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London.

Crossrail plans to handover the new railway and all assets, including IT, to Transport for London once works are complete.  Crossrail worked with Fruition Partners to implement ServiceNow to provide IT support during construction right through to handover.

Improved IT Service for a delivery project

Crossrail’s project nature means there is a high volume of joiners and leavers as employees are on-boarded to deliver contractual requirements and off-boarded once works are complete. This directly translates into a higher than normal volume of IT requests for new starters, movers and leavers amongst other IT requests.

Crossrail implemented a self-service solution that allows its users to easily make IT requests and ask for help, automating the delivery of requests for improved service and reduced operational cost.

Why ServiceNow?

Having decided to bring IT support in-house, ServiceNow was selected as the chosen solution through the standard procurement process using the Government’s Digital Marketplace (G-Cloud Initiative). ServiceNow demonstrated the best value for money and quickest return on investment allowing for quick adoption to generate savings before the transfer of assets to TfL in 2018.

Alistair Goodall, Head of Applications and Portfolio Management for Crossrail Ltd said, “ServiceNow is unique, with the grounded architecture we were looking for in terms of SaaS. It was our chosen solution for a quick route to market, with competitive prices making it the most cost-effective solution for Crossrail.”

Using the Governments G-Cloud Initiative Fruition Partners were chosen to implement the solution as a Gold Sales and Services Partner of ServiceNow. “They helped keep us on the right track throughout, and their workshops and training ensured we got the knowledge transfer we needed into our own team” said Alistair Goodall.

Implement fast and then evolve

One of Crossrail’s key requirements was an ability to go live rapidly and then evolve where necessary because it was important to achieve payback well before handover of assets to the future operator.

By using out of the box solutions wherever possible, such as Service Request and Incident, the Discovery phase of the project was completed within 70 days, with Phase 1 going live within less than eight months, delivering Service Requests and CMDB. Phase 2, providing Incident Management and Change then went live shortly after that.

The roll-out to 3,000 staff across sites across London was facilitated by a programme to educate the site administrators, supported by Fruition Partners. Referring to workshops held as part of the project, Alistair Goodall says “The construction site administrators were key to the success of the project and they were pleasantly surprised by how intuitive the system was to use and how it would make their lives easier.”

The user interface is a significant part of this: at Fruition’s suggestion, the design was approached from an end-user perspective, rather than following strict ITIL principles of ‘ticket classification’. Instead, the ethos is oriented to enable the user to ‘tell me your problem in the easiest way possible’.

Return on Investment within one year

At a headline level, Crossrail has achieved a payback on the project within a year, using a platform that has also improved end-user experience. Crossrail’s annual survey showed happier users and, according to Alistair Goodall, “a more positive attitude towards IT as a whole: it’s not seen as a cumbersome giant anymore.”

In particular, he points to the chat function in ServiceNow which has been very popular and has changed the nature of interactions with users to bring them closer to the support teams.

In addition to cost-savings, metrics such as increases in the number of self-service tickets and decrease in phone calls to the service desk have also demonstrated the success of the system as “it’s easier to use self-service than to pick up the phone”, says Goodall.

Suhran Miranbeg, Solution Architect, who runs the managed services operation comments that implementing ServiceNow has improved the functioning of his team, as they can work more closely on other business objectives as rate of phone calls on the service desk has decreased.  In addition, thanks to the ServiceNow reporting capability, Crossrail is now able to figure out trends, quickly identify issues, find solutions and continue improving user experience.

Handing over the railway

As the Crossrail project nears completion and the handover of assets required for the operation of the railway begins, the number of employees remaining will be a small fraction of the current workforce who will be responsible for the close out of contracts.  The IT function will be handed over to TfL, and in the interim the ServiceNow application will be vital in that handover process.  The CMDB functionality will be used to close warranties, identify data required for the future and to manage transfer for operational purposes, along with storing compliance documents and processes. As Alistair Goodall puts it: “We’ll be using ServiceNow to identify what we’ve got, what’s useful and what we should keep.”

Fruition Partners will continue to provide support and training during this process, supplementing the resource of Suhran Miranbeg’s team. Overall, Alistair Goodall’s view of the project is “This has been a painless implementation, without huge overhead, which has really delivered results, and which will play a vital role in the wind-down of Crossrail.”