Originally published in Cloud Tech on 05 July, 2017

In 2013, building and construction firm Travis Perkins developed a five-year roadmap for its IT. Technology would be seen as a ‘key enabler of strategic change’ rather than a support function, with investments amounting to more than double the IT budget, enhancing infrastructure and getting to grips with open source and cloud architecture in the process.

Four years into the plan, things seem to be going swimmingly. The IT budget has been duly doubled, and the company’s self-service portal supports 30,000 staff.

The key to Travis Perkins’ success has been changing the IT service management (ITSM) environment from a firefighting ‘fix fast’ approach to focus on cloud-based technology and a ‘fail less’ outlook. This has come through the use of ServiceNow from UK-based IT solutions provider Fruition Partners.

“The previous approach was mostly a result of having a spread of legacy solutions in place and no unified way to manage them,” Wendy Collison, Travis Perkins project manager for service development, told CloudTech. “Now, we are creating greater integration and efficiency across the business by harnessing multi-channel transactional support, re-engineering and upgrading legacy systems to provide enhanced infrastructure to provide fix solutions quicker.”

In July 2014, the service delivery team launched SolveIT, the first iteration of a self-service website. To begin with, the portal was focused on IT support, which helped users log IT incidents and track progress, as well as provide information so users could fix issues themselves.

Today, it is now accessible to all 30,000 employees across the Travis Perkins group, with 10% of all incidents and service requests going through the portal. This is described by the company as a ‘good achievement’, taking into account the fact the many workers in stores and warehouses who are less likely to use the portal through their job role. The company also reports a more than 20% reduction in incidents, and quicker root cause analysis.

“It took a while to gain momentum as for some colleagues in branch and store locations they didn’t notice any significant changes to working methods,” added Collison. “But through further updates and enhancements with ServiceNow, colleagues are seeing a real difference to the updates and information they receive, they are better informed and service teams have more time to concentrate on delivering better services and anticipating problems before they happen.”

Ultimately, the goal is to ‘move fully to a services-based organisation based around a service catalogue, detailing all the business services the organisation provides along with associated costs and commitments’. One such development in the pipeline is putting together an online branded clothing store for Travis Perkins staff, with employees being able to select uniform, schedule delivery, and organise returns via an automated system.

“The first step was to create a successful product catalogue enabling colleagues to purchase devices from our self-service portal, such as phones, laptops [and] printers,” said Collison. “Moving forward, we aim to create a full service catalogue where businesses will be able to purchase readily available solutions such as websites, business analytics and customer relationship solutions.”

This shows there are still a couple of steps to go for Travis Perkins – but the journey already undertaken gives a glimpse of how a long-term cloud plan, properly executed, can reap rewards.