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How Aberdeenshire Council is using Cherwell’s ITSM platform

Tech leaders are seeing opportunities to expand the remit of IT service management beyond IT

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Aberdeenshire Council has been using Cherwell for IT service management for the past seven years and has expanded IT service management (ITSM) outside of IT. It is now exploring whether ITSM would work in finance and facilities management.

Craig Morton, ICT service development team leader at Aberdeenshire Council, says that over the past seven years, the council has expanded the use of Cherwell for service management beyond IT.

“In 2015, the human resources department looked at replacing a case management system,” he says. “This was an opportunity to move beyond ITSM.”

Three years ago, Aberdeenshire Council’s contact centre began looking at options for replacing some of its customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and Cherwell proved a good fit for CRM.

When asked about using Cherwell in the decision-making process to identify suitable projects for ITSM, Morton says the assessment took place at the point of contract renewal. “It’s been organic,” he says. “When we engage with business analysis for contract renewal, we look at whether we have something in-house that goes a long way to meet business goals.”

The business analysts take into account cost considerations, which may rule out buying an entirely new off-the-shelf product. They also assess in-house expertise, which, says Morton, means the council does not have to hire external consultants, making a project potentially more resource and time efficient.

“There are different appetites in the council for ITSM and we need to consider organisational structure, such as whether neighbouring business units are using the product,” he says. “The approach the ITSM team has taken is opportunist and tactical, identifying low-hanging fruit that could benefit from an ITSM approach using Cherwell.

In-house expertise

Aberdeenshire Council employs around 100 IT staff, of which two full-time equivalents are dedicated to Cherwell. There are also two IT people with Cherwell experience in HR and a further two IT professionals with programming skills in the contact centre. Morton says this in-house expertise can be transferred to ITSM projects.

There are many ways to link enterprise applications to help business processes run more seamlessly,” he says. “The current trend is to use robotic process automation [RPA], where a bot replaces a human operator’s task of inputting data into one system and then copying it to another. This automation is increasingly becoming more intelligent, where AI [artificial intelligence] is used to make decisions based on the input data.

Another, more involved approach involves encapsulating application logic into services that can be accessed via an application programming interface (API). This seems to be used in organisations that have a cloud-native strategy, where APIs provide the access microservices need to connect into back-end legacy systems.

ITSM is the third way to provide integration. Its primary goal is about providing workflow between different teams and business processes. For instance, the new joiners and leavers processes involve a whole series of steps HR and IT need to take.

When someone joins the organisation, they have to go through a new formal HR procedure, be put on the payroll, and provided with IT equipment, access to the software and databases they need to do their job, and login details. The process may have been initiated by a line manager formally requesting a new hire, but the process is generally managed through HR and involves participation across multiple stakeholders in the business.

Arguably, HR, as is the case at Aberdeenshire Council, appears to be the poster child for how ITSM can be applied to business processes outside the IT department.

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What Cherwell offers council departments, according to Morton, is a shared platform. This provides teams across the organisation with a means to integrate different business systems in a way that reduces errors in handovers between departments.

“If a council tax payer wants to report a problem with a street light, this requires passing information between different systems,” says Morton.

A common platform simplifies this, as ITSM can be used to define how one team hands over a task to another. 

He says there are also opportunities to apply ITSM using Cherwell in Aberdeenshire Council’s finance department, which currently runs Oracle iProcurement.

“IT service management can sit as a service management layer at the point of entry for workflow elements of financial management across disparate systems, using one-step automation to trigger events,” says Morton.

Removing clunky handovers

He believes IT service management is effective at removing clunky handovers, by providing a workflow between people and processes that integrates with IT systems.

“It removes a lot of double keying,” says Morton. “You can have a much more streamlined workflow.”

In the context of the contact centre, this translates to contact time reduction, and there is less human error due to less double keying. This means that if someone calls in to report a pothole or failed streetlight, things get resolved faster.

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