While traditional, tried and tested tools such as Excel are very much still in place today, automated workflows have been a game changer for many industries over the past twenty years. Below, Unifii’s Managing Director Steve Mamelok details how he has gone from working with manual tools that were unable to effectively handle a heavy workload, to his experience with ServiceNow and the improvements it has brought within the banking, finance and insurance (BFSI) sector.
The Best Job Ever
Back in the day, which for me was the mid-1990s, I worked as a Project Manager for the European arm of one of the world's largest vehicle manufacturers in their prototype planning and build team.
It was a fantastic “job,” as I frequently had the opportunity to travel with colleagues to a private proving ground in Europe. Here we would have a thrash in the new cars that were being developed, usually to the annoyance of the official test drivers (more often than not we just got in the way of them doing their day job).
The Mountain Chart
Having a great time driving prototype cars was not an official part of the job, just the most enjoyable bit. The main focus was on managing the schedules and finances from all the Project Managers in the Prototype Planning team, bringing them into a centralised place with the intention of providing a consistent view and report of progress across the European-wide development programmes.
Back in these days there weren't many tools that could automate these processes. Despite trying and failing many times with MS Project, MS Access and a bit of VBA magic, eventually I built an enormous Excel planning “database” which I fondly named the Mountain Chart. This document was linked to multiple external Excel workbooks, with progress updates from Project Managers provided through email.
It worked, but was highly manual, incredibly inefficient and took a lot of support to keep running. Unfortunately it also had a major single point of failure – it needed me to constantly maintain it. Without being at all disdainful of my team’s ability and competence, I was so used to the Mountain Chart that when I left the company after four years the system quickly fell over, leaving no one with the right skill or understanding to support it going forwards.
So, what does all this have to do with ServiceNow in the finance sector?
On the face of it, not a lot - hacking around test tracks in prototype cars couldn't be further from automation and cloud computing in the wonderful world of finance. However, I've spent most of my pre-Unifii career in banking and finance; almost thirty years on from my Mountain Chart days, organisations in the BFSI sector are still relying heavily on Excel and inboxes to manage complex, business critical processes and workloads.
Don't get me wrong, I still love a good spreadsheet or two, but workload automation is where ServiceNow can provide almost immediate return on investment. As probably the only true enterprise service management platform, it is able to cross organisational boundaries, bring together and automate many of the processes that to date have necessitated the use of spreadsheets and inbox management - and that includes the Mountain Chart (if it still exists!).
“It's Incident Management Jim, but not as we know it”
IT Service Management (ITSM), and in particular Incident Management, has been at the core of ServiceNow since its inception. As per the ServiceNow website, "Incident Management restores normal service operation while minimising impact to business operations and maintaining quality." While IT incidents do happen, it’s rare that they tend to just affect IT; the longer-term knock-on effect to business processes, or even external customers, is often not taken into account. This is because IT's priority in these situations is to get the affected systems back up and running as quickly as possible.
Take, for example, a critical issue with a banking trade order management system where no new orders can be processed, and a backlog of orders starts to form in the system. What happens then?
From the perspective of IT, the main objective would be to get the system back up to working operation as soon as possible, and therefore avoid undue impact to the customer or bank. IT can then close the Incident and move on to the next.
From the perspective of the business however, the Incident may have much longer-term effects - such as financial and regulatory - that will need to be managed and reviewed over a number of days, weeks, months or even years. Typically, these processes would be managed manually, and often with a combination of tools including email and spreadsheets.
With ServiceNow, you can implement a “Business Incidents” process which ensures there is always a relation to the original IT incident, only with a dedicated workflow specific to the needs of the relevant business. Subsequently, this ensures that the business incident is effectively and centrally managed through to completion – something notoriously more difficult to achieve using manual tools.
This is just one of the many, many ways in which the platform can give you and your team invaluable time and energy back. In the words of ServiceNow itself: when work works, the world works.
This is the first in a series of blogs on the use of ServiceNow within the BFSI sector. The aim of these will be to discuss those industry specific workloads that aren't naturally covered by ServiceNow out of the box, but can be easily implemented to bring massive process and efficiency gains to a business.