ITIL case study: Comparing two financial services firms’ best practices

When Barclays Global Investors and Wachovia invested in ITIL, they saw improved efficiencies and huge cost savings. Read their stories here.

What are the enterprise-level benefits of an investment in ITIL best practices -- especially in today's economy? How about cost savings in the millions and the ability to improve efficiencies and eliminate redundant procedures?

These are the types of benefits real companies, like Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company, and Barclay's Global Investors, are experiencing using ITIL best practices. Both companies have implemented the ITIL framework during the past year and seen significant cost savings and improvements in productivity.

Wachovia, which completed a merger with Wells Fargo in January, is currently using version two of the IT Infrastructure Library, along with some integration practices contained in the ITIL V3 framework. Following the ITIL processes of incident, change, problem, configuration and service portfolio management has saved the company approximately $20 million through improved processes and efficiencies, according to Paul Ruppel, production systems consultant lead at Wachovia. Similarly, Barclay's Global Investors is immersed in ITIL V2 but implementing some parts of V3.

Here's a look at how these two leading financial services organizations are leveraging ITIL best practices to cut costs, improve service delivery to the business and increase IT transparency.

Getting started with problem, incident and change management

As with most companies, Wachovia began its implementation of the ITIL V3 framework by focusing on problem and incident management as subsets of the change management process. This allows Wachovia's IT organization to more easily determine the root cause of an issue and how it affects related business systems.

"We have a categorization of events that gives each incident a number and criticality level to the business -- we call this RTO, or return to operation," said Ruppel."So when an event comes into the operations center, we know the RTO and incident number." Ruppel and his team determine the severity level and number by reviewing issues such as how much money is lost per minute or second and will the outage or incident prevent trades from going through the system.

Tools to optimize

There are various tools available to manage specific tasks outlined in the ITIL framework. For instance, Wachovia uses a product from Tideway Systems Inc. for automated resource discovery. The tool offers profiles that show the types and versions of software on specific machines. It allows IT to say, "I know what you already have, and now let me tell you what else we have to offer you," said Ruppel.

Ruppel and his team also hope to use this tool in the future to dynamically update their configuration management database (CMDB). "For example, when a new machine comes across the wire, [the product will tell us] what the machine does, who owns it and who supports it," said Ruppel. "This functionality gives our operations center a view of the network and IT the ability to understand what type of packages each customer should have."

Barclays Global Investors uses the Service Catalog Solution from newScale, Inc. to handle its service catalog and service portfolio management processes.

The investment firm also uses Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Service Manager suite for all other ITIL-related tasks, including incident management, change management, configuration management and reporting. -- K.G.

"There is an immediate value to incident, problem and change management," said Nilesh Patel, director of infrastructure service management at Barclays Global Investors. Most organizations begin with these three processes because they are well understood, and tooling is mature, making them easier to implement and the business sees a quick return because of better incident handling, faster response time and greater availability of systems.

Using a service catalog for improved efficiency and IT transparency

One of the key objectives Patel was hired to accomplish was to implement a service catalog that would allow both IT and the business to view all the services offered by IT, their costs and delivery times. "The objective was improving IT transparency," said Patel.

"We actually had a good handle on internal IT costs," he added. "but wanted a standard way to communicate the cost, deliver our services and deepen our understanding of the drivers of IT cost."

Part of that was because Barclay's Global Investors IT had been growing at a rapidly in the last few years in line with it's business.

Implementing a service catalog was also instrumental to improving IT efficiencies at Wachovia.

"When we started our service catalog, we had all different types of offerings that we had to break down to individual service tasks," said Ruppel. "We worked with the QA department to write test scenarios for each task and incorporate repeatable processes."

The most recent version of Wachovia's service catalog has nine categories of services broken down into at least 300 individual tasks. It provides customers who submit a request with end-to-end expectations of how long it will take to execute a task and what the costs are, as well as the ability to track the deliverables against promised SLAs.

Cultivating an ITIL culture 

Culture management is a critical component of the success of any ITIL implementation. ITIL success is dependent on changing people's behaviors and the way they do their jobs.

That is certainly true at Wachovia, which in addition to its ITIL efforts has been in the midst of a corporate merger with Wells Fargo. That will mean best practice integration issues, such as those involving data collection for the configuration management database (CMDB). "When we add Wells to our configuration database, we'll need to start gathering and holding large amounts of data from their lines of business," said Ruppel. "This could be an issue with workflow and culture shift for them [Wells Fargo employees]."

But the CMDB will ultimately help the IT team, which, like other parts of the organization, experienced staff cuts after the merger. Ruppel said he and his team hope to use ITIL's configuration management process and "identify repeatable processes that are low-level and mundane and automate or send them out," which would help them manage the additional workload with fewer staff. Ruppel added that he also plans to create intelligent forms for monitoring requests that can be plugged into a CMDB and to automate responses.

At Barclay's, Patel knew the steps to take to best formulate an ITIL culture, having come from an ITIL implementation at DHL two years ago. "There's a cost to implement ITIL initially," said Patel, and it's not just tools. "You have to hire and train the right people and change the way you do business."

Let us know what you think about the story; email editor@searchcio.com.

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