Industry analysts pinpoint IT change management as one of the make or break challenges facing organizations today. All too often, success is compromised when business processes fail under the stresses of expansion, streamlining or adaptation. And nowhere is change more difficult to manage than in IT asset usage, with hardware and software upgrades, user turnover, and fluctuations in license numbers forming into a constantly-moving storm cloud.
Anderson Power Products (APP), a long-established developer of high-quality power interconnect solutions (used, for example, in systems from electrical back up to telecoms and alternative energy solutions) provides an interesting study in managing a fluid, ever-changing IT environment without getting weighed down by detail.
Always at the forefront of innovation in their industry, APP moved into an aggressive expansion and acquisition phase in 1998 and now serves a global customer base from a compact workforce of some 130 people across offices in the U.S., England, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. As the number of employees and regions served grew, so did the challenge of keeping track of multiple internal processes across countries and time zones.
Shaped to Fit
APP’s overriding priority was to find an issue tracking system that its IT department could adapt to its unique needs. The most immediate requirement was for a simple, standard way for its employees at five locations to submit help desk requests at any time.
Custom-configured to meet APP’s specific requirements, the Issuetrak software now enables employees to send simple email requests directly to the help desk, from where tickets are automatically opened and tracked through to resolution. The Issuetrak software integrates with Active Directory, linking each request to the individual employee so that contact information, technology profile and history of help desk issues are available from a central location, and recurring issues can be identified and addressed. Automated alerts inform the IT team about the life cycle of open tickets, ensuring that the team resolves them within specific, defined timeframes.
APP’s global footprint and constant stream of new employees makes keeping track of software licensing, hardware warranties and equipment serial numbers more than complex. Software audits in particular are increasingly common; audits are costly, especially if records are not easily available or if licenses are in default, and regulatory requirements place a further burden on organizations to demonstrate compliance.
Issuetrak’s Asset Management module provides APP with a central repository for information about IT assets including hardware serial numbers and software warranty and licensing information. When the IT team needs to configure software for a new user or different hardware, they are able to refer to Issuetrak for details of the previous setup and licensing. Changes are recorded within the Issuetrak system: IT change tracking is an often-overlooked but vital step in maintaining clear records and avoiding time-consuming file searches for software, hardware and financial audits.
The combination of help desk and asset tracking together enables APP to correlate data about users and issues to support faster resolution of problems and improve the decision-making cycle regarding technology changes or upgrades.
Using Issuetrak software has allowed APP’s IT team to deliver a higher level of service to its distributed employee base, resulting in greater employee productivity, satisfaction rates, and retention levels. Despite being headquartered in the US, the IT team has been able to improve international IT service satisfaction levels by responding to requests, whatever the time zone, in real time. Through Issuetrak’s reporting capabilities, APP’s management team has much greater visibility into all aspects of IT worldwide, allowing immediate action tickets from every APP location.
APP sees improved cost management is another benefit of the Issuetrak solution. Flexibility to handle help desk requests, asset management and change tracking from a central location keeps IT costs down. And, if the economy calls for expenditure or manpower cuts, Issuetrak’s license reduction program helps APP to identify how best to reduce its ongoing costs.
Increasingly, today’s businesses are IT-driven, and IT service management is at the heart of any organization’s success. APP provides an interesting example of how a company can evolve over more than a century, innovate, expand, contract if necessary, and sustain a global operation with a lean employee base. At the heart of the success is APP’s ability to transform potentially cumbersome but essential business processes through streamlined IT service management technology. We are very pleased that Issuetrak is part of this ongoing success story.