Achieving true Ser vice Desk integration

c a s e s t u d y : CANADIAN TIRE
Discover how major retailer Canadian Tire successfully used a Best Practice-based solution and processes to integrate a diverse infrastructure of Help Desks into a seamless IT Service Management team


Canadian Tire’s IT Service transformation

Achieving results the ‘Canadian Tire Way’
A large and diverse organization with multiple Help Desks, Canadian Tire looked to ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) Best Practice guidelines for the approach it should take to integrate and simplify its Service Support assets, whether knowledge assets or technologies. The key driver that helped them realize this integration is assyst – a leading ITIL-based Help Desk and IT Service Management solution.

Background: A proud history and a promising future
What started in 1922 as a bold entrepreneurial concept by the two Billes brothers and their $1,800 investment in a small range of auto repair parts has emerged to become Canada’s most shopped retailer, with more than 1,000 stores and gas bars (petrol stations) across the enterprise. The ‘Canadian Tire Way’ is its foundation and inspiration that guides its future growth and success: “We are a growing, innovative network of interrelated businesses, achieving extraordinary results through extraordinary people. We touch the lives of more people in more ways every day.” That collection of interrelated businesses over time spawned four separate Help Desks located in different parts of the country, serving different parts of the organization: stores, distribution centers and warehouses and corporate users at the company’s home office. The Help Desks combined handle over 14,000 calls per month.

They look to ITIL Best Practice for a framework, a ‘signpost’.
“We are owners … with a passion to continuously improve.” “In an organization as large and sophisticated as Canadian Tire, the Help Desks play a key role. But they were providing inadequate service to their customers”, says Wendy Wilson, Senior Systems Analyst of Technology Services for Canadian Tire. One of the main issues within the Canadian Tire Help Desks was that they were not able to pass service tickets between the Desks. One Desk would open a service ticket and in order to transfer the ticket to a secondary Desk or specialist group to work on it, they would phone them. “Once the ticket had been passed to the other Help Desk, we had no way of checking for a progress update electronically.” As services and applications developed to be increasingly cross-platform, it became necessary to automate the ticket logging process and to create one virtual Help Desk environment. The fundamental first step in addressing the issues that Canadian Tire faced was to adopt ITIL as a Best Practice framework to drive the success of the project. ITIL, the most recognized and widespread IT Service Management approach in the world has three key objectives: align IT services to present and future needs of the business and its customers improve the quality of IT services reduce long-term service provision costs. It means accountable effective service from beginning to end of an Incident’s lifecycle.

the solution was assyst


Axios Systems - the leading global Help Desk & IT Service Management solutions provider
case study : CANADIAN TIRE

“assyst - one product that covers all of the ITIL disciplines, deployable one Help Desk at a time and interfaces with our existing systems.”
They evaluate ITIL-based solutions:“assyst was the first choice” .
“We are committed … to operate with honesty, integrity and respect.” Prior to drawing up a short list of vendors, Canadian Tire defined a list of specific criteria that had to be met by any tool purchased: the solution would have to be user friendly and offer a user interface in both English and French. It was important that the solution offered pre-integrated Service Management processes, thus providing a true integrated Service Desk solution. It also needed to interface rapidly and easily with existing applications within the infrastructure. The project team realized that each of the four Canadian Tire Help Desks had its own culture and so should not be consolidated into one Desk. But they could integrate the Desks into a ‘Help Desk PLUS’ or a total Service Desk. A Service Desk extends the range of the Help Desk - it handles Incidents, Problems and questions like a Help Desk plus it provides a centralized contact point for customer change requests, maintenance contracts, software licenses, etc. Canadian Tire started its search with a select list of vendors identified by the PinkVerify assessment instrument, whose solutions met the functional requirements to support the ITIL framework. PinkVerify is an objective product assessment based on the criteria specified by the Office of Government Commerce and certified by a qualified Pink Consultant. It appraised each of the vendors on the list using a combination of: Gartner ‘Magic Quadrant’ selection matrix (they aligned the matrix criteria specially to meet Canadian Tire business priorities), Best Practice information submissions, and in-house review of the solutions by the project team.

“assyst was the first choice of all the stakeholders – a unanimous decision – it met all the criteria.”
Wendy Wilson Senior Systems Analyst

assyst goes the distance
“We are accountable … to ourselves and each other.” The following issues were addressed by the assyst implementation: Issue 1: Help Desks couldn’t share information electronically or pass tickets between them. As an organization, a primary concern pre-assyst was not being able to support services within agreed SLA targets: the Help Desks had different tools with varying capabilities, information exchange was manual and Incident handling knowledge-bases needed improvement. The Help Desk would lose sight of Incidents once they were assigned to another group unless there was a number attached to them. If someone called for a status update without a ticket number, the Incident was difficult to locate. “Post-assyst, should a user call without his ticket number, the Help Desk personnel can use the ‘Similar’ feature on the assyst user screen to show all the Incidents that have been logged for that user,” says Wilson. Issue 2: Canadian Tire help desks were not able to provide management reports. Canadian Tire Service Desks are now in the initial stages of using Crystal Reports to create Service Management reports that measure and analyze break-fix activity. Over 100 ITIL-based reports are available with assyst to help IT Service Managers understand their infrastructure. The first step is to ensure that the reports provide the information needed and that the appropriate criteria are selected. The second step is to make sure the correct information is recorded in the assyst tickets, by providing the team members with feedback on Incident analysis. Issue 3: Canadian Tire has a large and complex infrastructure to interface with. Implementing assyst involved interfacing with Canadian Tire’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, store dealers use to call their Incidents in to the Retail Systems Service Desk. Now when a store logs a service call, it enters its identifying numbers into the phone and the IVR captures the information and sends it over to assyst, which in turn opens a ticket. A page is automatically transmitted through the IVR system (on a Windows server), where the Service Desk monitors a queue flagging severity 1 events. When someone calls in from a Canadian Tire store, they don’t realize anything has changed except requests are answered more quickly – the process dealers have always used to log a call has not changed. Canadian Tire also uses automatic paging through AF Operator (Candle’s mainframe console automated management solution). It captures an alert on the mainframe from either Tivoli or Draber Transaction Appending, which in turn works with MQ IBM’s Websphere sending a file over to assyst and running off the job processor including the IVR.

Service Desks can now share information electronically and pass tickets automatically between them All Service Desks are now using a central database Improved Knowledge Management Meaningful management reports can now be created and are out-of-thebox Monitoring of and acting on customer satisfaction surveys True Service Desk integration Improved IT Service Management performance Adoption of ITIL based Best Practice Application cohesiveness through rapid integration

assyst met the criteria of being a PinkVerify solution and, in the Canadian Tire
version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant rated above all other tools including Peregrine and Remedy. “The look and feel of assyst impressed our Help Desk personnel and Help Desk management,” says Wendy Wilson. “They are the ones that come in and work with assyst all day, it is easy on the eyes and all the information is stored right there in the Jukebox.” The Jukebox is a special feature in assyst record screens used by a Help Desk’s first line of support for easy access to user information screens, knowledge and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). SLAs are formal agreements between IT service providers and their customers for how a service is delivered and how quickly service interruptions are resolved.

assyst is a true integrated Service Desk solution supporting the ITIL disciplines
in a single out-of-the-box product with one underlying database. It offers a unique lifecycle approach to IT Service Management through the integration of Incident, Problem, Change, Asset and Configuration, and Service Level Management. This integration is a key strength of assyst, as it steers the user intuitively through the Service Management processes, in turn ensuring a Best Practice implementation every time. “assyst was the first choice of all the stakeholders – a unanimous decision – it met all the criteria”, says Wilson. “It was ITIL compatible, a fully integrated solution, one product that covers all of the disciplines, deployable one Help Desk at a time, and interfaces with our existing systems.” It worked with Canadian Tire’s multi-lingual presence, had a Web-based user interface, and proactive expert vendor support.



N e x t S t e p o n t h e Wa y
Issue 4: There are hundreds of users to train on the new assyst solution. Train the Trainer courses offered by Axios Systems have proven to be invaluable to Canadian Tire. “The team at Axios Systems came to Canadian Tire and conducted training for our staff including Train the Trainer courses, so that we could conduct our own in-house sessions,” says Wilson. During the initial deployment of assyst to each Help Desk, Canadian Tire trained its personnel in two groups of 100 each and one group of 250. It has a state-of-the-art training room that allows for such projects. Over 400 Canadian Tire employees were originally trained on assyst. A full day of training was given to each person including an explanation of ITIL Best Practice. “We are driven … to help customers achieve their goals.” “If Best Practice is an important feature, make sure you have chosen an ITIL-compatible tool,” says Wilson. “I like the idea of having one product fully supporting everything. We looked at other tools, but we would have had to buy individual modules and with each module bought, you would have to integrate it into the current module(s) you are using and then test it. When it is one tool and you test, you don’t have to worry about integration points with the business processes after that.” “I also liked the idea that we did not change anything on the screens, we haven’t done any customization at all and I think you want to watch for that because there are some tools out there where you basically need to build your own screens.”

case study : CANADIAN TIRE

Next step on the Way
“We are leaders … who perform with heart.” Today all of the Service Desks are using assyst and following the detailed Incident and Problem Management processes that were developed. The time between Incident logging and resolution has been greatly reduced. “The implementation of assyst went smoothly throughout the Canadian Tire Help Desks,” says Wilson. “The support we received from Axios Systems has been great.” Canadian Tire’s original goal of integrating and simplifying the Help Desk process and technology has been achieved: “We’re saving time and money.” Canadian Tire’s latest step for assyst is to move into Change Management and handling Requests for Change. “After Request for Change, we have to start improving our SLAs – we are using them but we are not fully reporting on them since the functionality is still new to Canadian Tire,” says Wilson. “In the past we have talked about getting into Self-Service, it is a huge step but I think it is something the corporation should look toward. Change, however, is our priority – it will enhance our knowledge-base and Jukebox information to further improve the support process.”

”You should not see assyst as only a helpdesk tool but as a corporate information system.” “The assyst solution has acted as the key enabler for sustained annual six figure financial savings by the ability to track assets, their specification and suitability for re-use.”

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