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A large financial services organization sought to improve their release and configuration management processes and engaged TEKsystems to perform an assessment of their existing processes.
Headquartered in the northeastern U.S., the client is a nationally recognized financial services organization providing products and services through business segments, including annuities, retirement, life insurance and group protection. TEKsystems has been a trusted IT staffing and services partner of this organization since 1999.
IT Service Management, IT Infrastructure Library, COBIT, ISO 20000
The financial and insurance industries face increasing scrutiny and heightened regulation. With the introduction of significant regulations and laws directly affecting these sectors, including various privacy and security laws, companies feel pressure to react and comply. At the same time, it has become ever more difficult to compete and differentiate from peers under the same pressures. Companies must be proactive and adaptive or risk getting left behind.
Maximizing efficiencies is one way to strengthen an organization, gain an edge over competitors and subsequently increase revenue. Whether these efficiencies enable more competitive pricing, better-quality products and services, or something in between, becoming more efficient has the potential to directly improve a company’s overall performance and bottom line. Additionally, a process-oriented organization that can compete is less likely to succumb to takeover attempts from larger organizations operating in the same space.
Establishing and/or following a consistent set of processes is no small feat for organizations, and the larger the enterprise, the more challenging it can be to standardize and scale processes. Factoring in potentially merged or newly acquired companies brings an added layer of complexity. Yet, fostering consistent processes is at the very core of an efficient organization. Introducing IT Service Management (ITSM) practices into an organization can help business functions align and continually improve. Based on the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®), ITSM enables companies to integrate business and IT goals, measure organizational efficiencies and realize return on investment.
The financial and insurance industry has become more structured and regulated over time. In order to stay relevant and continue to compete, the client, a financial services organization, sought to improve processes and operations within the Group Protection segment of its business. Not only was the Group Protection team geographically isolated from the rest of the business, but they also had the freedom to develop their own processes. There were no consistent processes or procedures that aligned with the larger business, and the different business segments—including Group Protection—operated in silos and did not talk to each other, driving major inefficiencies. Enterprise-wide, there was no consistent way of performing tasks.
The client sought to improve two key ITIL® processes within Group Protection: release and deployment management (also referred to as release management), and configuration management. Defining best practices for release and configuration management within the Group Protection segment would provide a model approach for performing these processes enterprise-wide. Ultimately, this would enable the siloed business segments to better align, thereby increasing process efficiencies.
As such, the client required a third-party assessment to evaluate the current environment and determine specific steps to take to improve for the future state of the organization. Not only did the client lack the internal expertise, but they also saw the value that a third-party provider could bring. Rather than the bias that might mar an internal, inward-facing assessment, a third-party IT staffing and services provider would bring complete objectivity.
The partner of choice would need to account for several key challenges during their assessment:
TEKsystems understood that value of process improvement and standardization. We knew the client would gain tremendous value from a comprehensive and holistic ITSM strategy that took perspective, position, plans and patterns into consideration. Through our dedicated ITSM practice, TEKsystems would provide an unbiased assessment of the current state of release and configuration management processes within Group Protection.
In order to perform our assessment, we would refer to a set of criteria from various ITSM methodologies to identify gaps. For example, strong and effective ITSM strategies should include well-documented steps for every process; they should also include a process owner. Our assessment would take stock of each requirement in an optimized ITSM strategy.
Specifically, our comprehensive assessment would:
The end result of our assessment would emphasize the importance of process integration and connection with enterprise-wide business initiatives. We would provide a comprehensive and objective report as the final deliverable, which would include our evaluation of release and configuration management processes and a strategic roadmap for improvement within Group Protection and scale them across the enterprise.
TEKsystems was selected because of our existing relationship as a high-quality IT staffing provider. Through our long-term partnership with the client, we had established ourselves as a reliable partner, and the client trusted in our ability to deliver IT services. Notably, this was the first IT services engagement TEKsystems provided for this client. One of our consultants placed through our staffing services had been converted to permanent employee status at the client, and this individual was a champion for TEKsystems, bringing the client further confidence in our ability to deliver high-quality service.
We successfully completed our assessment and prepared a report with key recommendations and action items for the client to take in order to implement process standardization and ultimately achieve more efficiencies. Our assessment was performed by a solution architect and practice architect, both certified in ITIL and offering ITSM expertise. We conducted about 20 interviews in-person and over the phone, traveling on site over the course of two trips in order to complete our assessment. Our interviews were with individuals in Group Protection, in the client’s PMO and with others related to the release and configuration management processes.
Our report deliverable provided a comprehensive view of the maturity of current and future release and management processes, and a roadmap for improving processes used by Group Protection. Our assessment provided the client with an understanding of:
Each area within the organization had its own tools and processes, and there had been a breakdown in communication that was hurting the organization’s efficiency at not only the Group Protection level, but also enterprise-wide. The relationships and level of integration between release and configuration management processes and other ITSM processes was poor, and we weighed potential ITSM methodologies to help improve these processes.
Through our assessment, we learned that the client could benefit from a mixture of ITIL, COBIT and ISO 20000 methodologies in order to establish a complete and comprehensive set of processes and internal methods and controls. Each of these methodologies include best practices and approaches that are a part of overarching ITSM. ITIL emphasizes meeting the needs of the business and bringing business value, while COBIT focuses on auditing and ensuring the organization meets regulatory and compliancy-related expectations. ISO 20000 is an international standard and rule book for ITSM.
Based on our findings in the assessment and the industry landscape for the client, we advised that implementing a combination of these methodologies would drive optimal results. We recommended that the client use a bottom-up approach, first adapting these methodologies to Group Protection’s release and configuration management processes, then modeling that behavior and results for the rest of the organization.
TEKsystems has a specific practice dedicated to delivering ITSM support and process knowledge. We understand the value of optimizing processes in order to drive operational efficiency, increase integration of IT and business goals, and improve a company’s bottom line. Our personnel supporting this engagement were ITIL-certified experts, ensuring we truly knew what to look for when analyzing processes and could provide solid recommendations based on experience. Their thorough understanding of different ITIL methodologies also allowed them to determine the most appropriate ones to employ to address the complexity of the client’s business.
Our longstanding staffing relationship with the client helped them trust in our ability to provide high-quality service. In fact, one of our IT consultants placed had been converted to a full-time employee, indicating the client was satisfied with the caliber of our people. This consultant had an inside perspective on TEKsystems and knew we had the expertise and experience to deliver. Pairing our solid track record with the recommendation of a TEKsystems champion who reiterated the value we bring, the client was confident and engaged us to support an IT services initiative for the first time.
Prior to our involvement, we understood the client was facing efficiency issues as a direct result of mergers and acquisitions. Operational processes were disjointed and lacked standardization within individual groups (e.g., Group Protection) but also at an enterprise-wide level. There were also leadership changes taking place. These organizational transformation changes meant there would be some uncertainties. TEKsystems was flexible with the unknowns and adapted to meet client needs.