Service Catalog for a Fast-Growing Company

Actelion has subsidiaries in over 30 countries, covering all major pharmaceutical markets worldwide. In fifteen years, the company has grown to over 2400 employees, all of whom require IT services. Actelion has come to rely on ServiceNow Service Catalog to provide its global base of employees with an overview of available services and the self-service portal for ordering them.

The problems of growing fast

Fast growth can be exciting, but it’s not always smooth. For Actelion’s employees and affiliates around the world, one of the biggest problems of growth was simply ordering basic IT equipment and services, especially for new hires in need of a laptop, a telephone line, a mobile phone, network privileges and access to shared drives.

“People knew that they should order these items through the IT department,” explains Sabine Berger, service catalog and portfolio manager, “but the problem was that our company’s growth was outrunning the processes we had in place. Ordering was difficult for the user because it was not obvious how to go about it, and because we had no standardized processes for it.”

Actelion hired Sabine Berger to select and implement a service catalog that would make it easier for employees to order from IT. She saw the need for a service catalog that employees could use globally, but with allowance for local differences in assets (models of laptop or printer) and services (affiliate companies vs. corporate offices) as well.

Working with an implementation partner, Actelion ensured that ServiceNow Service Catalog was running smoothly before replacing the Legacy Solution with ServiceNow Incident and Change, to better manage their qualified infrastructure and validated applications. Together with just one other colleague, Sabine was able to implement and maintain the company’s global ServiceNow deployment.

Gathering requirements for the solution

Gathering needs and requirements to define service catalog items was a global effort that began with Sabine Berger working with her colleagues in Actelion’s headquarters in Switzerland.

“This was a cultural change for IT,” notes Sabine Berger. “We were accustomed to receiving phone requests or signed paper forms, then fulfilling the orders. If the requests were incomplete, the Service Desk agents just phoned the users and obtained the missing details verbally. It was a new concept that we could define these service catalog items and ask all the questions to capture enough information the first time, so we had to stop and think about the correct questions to ask. It was also new to us that ServiceNow would automatically assign tasks based on a user’s choice in the service catalog and that we could act upon them to provide the requested service.”

Once Sabine and her colleague had come up with approximately 100 items applicable to assets and services in the main office, they started gathering requirements from offices in North America and Asia Pacific. This was easier with the example of the catalog already in place at headquarters. By the time they went live on a global basis – just six months after first licensing ServiceNow – Actelion’s service catalog counted 130 items worldwide.

The resulting value in the platform

Sabine Berger sees tremendous value in the improved request process: “The quality is much higher now, and we can move faster to fulfill requests because we have all of our questions answered. For the first three months or so we had to adjust a few things, because we were testing the forms and we discovered other questions we had to ask. But it’s much better than the days of the paper forms, when users might leave fields blank and we had to get back to them.”

IT even uses Service Catalog to improve the service catalog. The team has created a Change Catalog Item entry for requesting changes to existing items; for example, when it’s necessary to change a service, update a laptop model or ask additional questions. This generates a workflow that leads to a change in the service catalog and allows IT to control adaptations to items.

Recommendations for fast-growing companies

Sabine Berger’s recommendations on creating a service catalog are rooted in her experience with a pharmaceutical company, but she believes they apply to fast-growing companies in all industries:

  • Explain from the user’s perspective – First, spend time explaining the user’s perspective to the people in IT who will fulfill the requests. You’ll ask people in IT about their requirements and about the questions the service catalog item needs to ask, but they don’t usually see things the same way the user sees them. To
    get solid requirements that result in effective forms, it’s worth spending a lot of time and effort to explain the user’s perspective clearly.
  • New concepts take time – Even with the prospect of automation, legacy ideas can persist. If IT has been accustomed to old processes like paper forms and follow-up phone calls, automating requests and workflow may seem like a new concept even for technically oriented IT staff.
  • Talk to the people who deliver
    the service – The people who fulfill requests day in and day out are the ones who know the correct questions to ask. They don’t always have the skills to define the entire process, and their team leaders may need to revise their ideas, but interviewing them is the shortest route to implementing requirements and processes based on how users work in the real world today.
  • Get IT staff on board – These are the people who have to work with the service catalog and the users, so the more they can help in implementing, the more they will support the initiative. It’s important to get their buy-in and, if possible, to get them to like the catalog so that they can be positive about it if a user calls and says, “I have no clue what to do here.”

Next steps

As Sabine Berger looks forward, she sees clearly her next ServiceNow projects:

  • Island apps – IT at Actelion is also responsible for supporting the applications of non-IT groups within the company. Sabine Berger will implement ticketing systems on incident management in the same ServiceNow instance for some of those groups. Users of an application for, say, finance or facilities can manage their incidents with their own categories and assignment groups, but they cannot see IT’s tickets and IT cannot see theirs. Actelion calls these “islands,” and because of their successful rollout this year, Sabine Berger plans to create them for another five applications next year.
  • Discovery – “We also have ServiceNow Discovery in place,” Sabine Berger says. “At the moment we only discover, but we plan to wrap processes around discovery and move in the direction of CMDB and asset management.”
  • More ServiceNow in IT – In IT, Actelion plans to implement problem management and project management

“There are a lot of projects ahead,” she notes, “so we are still happy to use ServiceNow and also happy to keep making progress with it because we see lots more possibilities.”

This case study is based on an interview with Sabine Berger, service catalog and portfolio manager at Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd. conducted by a ServiceNow representative and was originally published on ServiceNow’s Website

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