CIO/CTO reaps benefits of a flexible ITSM platform

In the second part of this story, CIO/CTO Bart Murphy explains how a cloud-based ITSM platform has helped transform IT and the business.

In the first part of this two-part CIO Innovator story, CareWorks CIO/CTO Bart Murphy talked about his need for an IT Service Management (ITSM) platform and how he got his IT team excited about the endeavor. Here, he discusses how he's using the platform and the difference it's making for IT and the business.

The way Bart Murphy saw it, the internal ServiceNow platform would essentially function as the "ERP of IT" services. The platform would standardize how business users procured IT services and it would help the IT team standardize its processes, resulting in more IT efficiency, lower costs and a better customer experience. Most important, it would free up his IT team to focus on enabling business innovation.

Bart Murphy, CIO/CTO, CareWorks Family of CompaniesBart Murphy

"I didn't want to be in the business of running the infrastructure for IT's sake, because that gets you away from moving the business forward," he said.

And indeed, the platform has had a big impact on the team's ability to quickly manage issues, get to the calls, and reach a resolution faster, Murphy said.  "It [has] been extremely helpful on the change management side."

The bigger challenge initially was with CareWorks' employees, many of whom equated IT services with tapping their resident "Joe Smith" on the shoulder. 

"Someone in one of the companies would say, 'Well, that's my IT person!'" Murphy said. "'Well, when you're in a shared services organization that individual no longer is only allocated to your company,' we had to say. They may be doing other things as well to support the overall IT umbrella."

But the dividends paid by the ITSM platform have gradually become evident to business users. They discovered it can help them tap into technology services from across the CareWorks family of companies. 

One example is the CareWorks company, CWT Interactive, which does Web design and development, as well as mobile apps and other digital branding for companies. These digital services, of course, could also be useful to its sister CareWorks companies and the ServiceNow platform gives those business users a way to take advantage of them.

"What we've tried to do, and I think we've done successfully, over the last few years is build capabilities within the consulting businesses that would be more relevant to supporting our internal companies," Murphy said.

I didn't want to be in the business of running the infrastructure for IT's sake, because that gets you away from moving the business forward.

Bart Murphy, CIO/CTO, CareWorks Family of Companies

Case in point: CWT Interactive is currently designing HTML5 and CSS3 (cascading style sheets) coding for self-service portals to be used in the ServiceNow content management system.

"That's one example of taking a capability that we need within our internal family of companies," but are also marketing externally.

Winning on GRC

The new ITSM platform has given his team another opportunity to help itself and the business by driving down IT audit costs. CareWorks healthcare companies are subject to one audit or another on nearly a daily basis.  Prior to Murphy's arrival, many of the IT controls being audited were done manually or inconsistently across the CareWorks companies.  IT was spending a lot of time on compliance.

"From an IT perspective, we've done a really good job of automating the business -- whether it's the supply chain, finance or HR [human resources]. We've done a terrible job automating IT," Murphy said.

The lack of IT automation was costing the business by driving up audits fees and putting the business at risk of failing those audits and being fined. The decentralized approach to compliance was costing his team by taking time away from more strategic projects. The governance, risk and compliance (GRC) module of the ServiceNow platform offered a chance to rethink governance and build consistency into the processes from the start.

"So we looked to see how we could drive and automate IT and get through those audits at a faster pace and spend more time on business innovation," Murphy said.

One of the problems the platform helped Murphy's team to solve was the need to standardize on IT Infrastructure Library processes. It was here that the platform scored an early and crucial GRC win.

"There are certain auditable controls that are managed by tools in this space. … One of the things we had to do on day one was pass a SOC 1 audit and get recertified by our regulator," Murphy said, referring to auditable Service Organization Control reports, which are related to the users' internal control over financial reporting.

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Not only did his team have a series of application and integration testing to do with its regulator, it also had to pass an audit to verify data center operations, which are managed by a set of controls that have been validated, agreed upon, and tested.

"The more you automate these processes and controls, the easier it is on you from an audit perspective," he said. Although auditors "will live with" processes that require manual intervention, they much prefer automation.

Getting agile

With so much of IT automated, Murphy's team was able to become more responsive to the business. Agility was one of Murphy's goals both on the IT side and the business side. Before, IT projects were done by crisis management, following the squeaky wheel principle.  Production releases followed suit. Today, releases into production consistently range from every two weeks to once a quarter. The regular schedule eliminates what Murphy called the "prioritization game."

When production releases were done only every six months, every business unit needed its job to be a top priority. With the help of the new platform, the pace of IT changed.  The IT team now meets with operations on a daily basis and understands and reacts to regulatory changes and operations enhancement requests. This makes IT also better able to anticipate needs.

"Sort of like running a marathon as opposed to sprinting and then dying," Murphy said. "It's a new constant pace that both operations and IT had to get used to, but now we're running and humming. ... They see the benefit of IT and we've learned a lot from them, too."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.

This was first published in February 2014

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