Faster and better IT support in the City of Aarhus

In partnership with The Cloud People, the City of Aarhus has expanded its ServiceNow platform with a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and an Asset Management solution. The move has resulted in the optimisation of a great many work processes, allowing the City of Aarhus’ IT department to provide much better and faster support to its many users.

The all-important overview

With around 30,000 staff, it was essential for the City of Aarhus to establish an overview over its myriad computers and other assets. It therefore made perfect sense to exploit the opportunities inherent in ServiceNow’s Configuration Management Database (CMDB) when the municipality was switching from Altiris’ to Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). “Working closely with The Cloud People, we launched a project to load data into ServiceNow, based on the principle of having SCCM as the primary data source. At the same time, the project was to establish the correct framework for onboarding a new computer supplier. The objective was to obtain full control of the entire Asset Management process and to ensure solid data quality,” relates Bjarne Krak, ServiceNow architect at the City of Aarhus.

Clear value creation

The first step was to register all the municipality’s computers and to build a framework that could be profitably scaled and create the conditions for continued expansion of the CMDB. “In partnership with The Cloud People, we analysed our existing asset data and identified a number of areas where there were issues with the data integrity. It took a good deal of manual data clear-up to sort this out, but we turned it into a positive experience,” continues Bjarne. “This really fired us up, because the value of the work was clear to see.” The team cleared up the existing data and established an integration between SCCM and ServiceNow.

Quick and easy settlement

Today, data are generated automatically when the City of Aarhus’ supplier configures a new computer. Through an integration, data are transferred to the CMDB which is supported by the Asset Management processes. This means that the City of Aarhus’ IT support department can start from a significantly improved basis when providing support to the numerous employees at the municipality. The system recognises each and every computer and maintains data about all users. For example, it has become quick and easy to settle accounts internally, because the municipality now has an overview of the individual municipal departments’ consumption of computers and the system automatically supplies data for settlement. In addition, the solution allows the life cycles of the computers to be administrated with fewer manual registrations.

Minimum time lost from error report to repair

Before the integration, many processes were dealt with on an ad hoc basis, which resulted in varying user experiences and a great deal of manual work. For example, it could take a long time for staff to have their computers repaired because the technician sometimes could not access the technical specifications of the individual user’s equipment and was therefore unable to determine which parts, etc. were necessary for the repair. The new solution has simplified and automated a number of processes, significantly reducing the time between error report and repair. Staff can now submit an error report directly in ServiceNow and track the process from start to finish. At the same time, the support assistant can communicate with the technician directly in the case, and the technician automatically receives an overview of the computer’s technical specifications and location. This optimises time use for both the individual user and the IT support assistant.

Bjarne’s tips for future CMDB projects

Bjarne has gained valuable experience from the process, which he is keen to share with everyone else embarking on a CMDB project:

  1. Focus clearly on internal organisation, the management mandate and roles and responsibilities.
  2. Requirements for data quality should be based on how the business actually uses data.
  3. High data quality costs internal time but generates appreciable business value.
  4. Choose solutions that can be scaled.
  5. Do not underestimate the value of documentation with regard to the subsequent operation.

More processes to be automated in the future

Even though the City of Aarhus has already noted many operational benefits from the new solution, it is planning to integrate even more processes into the system. “It’s an ongoing process where we are learning all the time, and where our needs are continuously changing. There are still many work processes that we can automate and simplify, and this is something we are already working on – in consultation with The Cloud People,” relates Bjarne.

Help to work independently

“We have no hesitation in recommending The Cloud People to others. We’re extremely satisfied with the service we’ve received. They haven’t just delivered a solution and a software package; they have proactively assured the implementation itself. This has naturally contributed to the success of our shared projects. The Cloud People understands our needs and the company is focused on scalability and the long-term approach. They’ve been open about the benefits and drawbacks, and it’s clear that the recommendations they made were firmly rooted in the City of Aarhus’ needs,” says Bjarne. “Most recently, The Cloud People has been advising us about leasing computers, which is the project we’re working on at the moment. Their advice has helped us become more independent and reinforced our internal skills. Moreover, The Cloud People stood out from other suppliers as regards documentation,” adds Bjarne. “The documentation from The Cloud People was a positive surprise as we can actually use it going forward, and it has helped us to run things ourselves.”