Without a doubt, managing retirement benefits and health insurance for employees of Oregon’s state agencies, universities, school districts, and local governments is no small undertaking. Hundreds of thousands of people—from firefighters to teachers to county administrators and their families—count on the Oregon Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) near Portland.

And for PERS, offering the highest levels of customer service depends on its core retirement application and other IT systems operating smoothly.

That’s why the agency’s five-year strategic plan prioritized improving its IT services to increase efficiency and control. An internal audit recommended the adoption of the ITIL framework and an enterprise-class IT service management platform to better control IT changes.

PERS needed a service management platform that would support the migration to ITIL and that could be customized easily to fit the singular needs of managing retirement benefits, which requires meeting complex financial rules and laws and providing transparency to the public.

The agency evaluated the leading IT service management platforms, and ultimately decided to upgrade from its existing HEAT Classic solution to Ivanti® Service Manager, deployed on-premise.

A Phased Approach to IT Service Management Maturity

PERS took a phased approach to IT service management (ITSM). It rolled out service request and incident management in 2015, and since then, has continued to mature ITIL practices and expand service management beyond IT.

“We really like that Service Manager is well-aligned with ITIL and it’s so customizable,” says Bryan Wynn, ITIL/ITSM Specialist. “You can adapt Service Manager the way you need it to be.”

Wynn continues, “It’s not about the size of your organization, it’s the maturity. We’re not a big organization, but we need a lot of security and controls around our processes, and Service Manager allows us to raise our maturity levels.”

PERS employs Ivanti Service Manager across all IT functions, including the service desk, desktop computing, infrastructure, applications, and database. The business analytics team and the facilities department will soon be using Service Manager as well. The agency relies on the solution for Incident Management, Service Request, Self Service, Knowledge Management, Change Management, Release Management, Discovery, and Service Level Management.

Self Service Streamlines Support

Migrating to Service Manager enabled IT to offer PERS staff rich self-service functionality. When employees or contractors have a problem with a printer or need a new application set up, they no longer need to call or send the first in a series of emails to get the issue resolved or request fulfilled. They use the self-service portal to report incidents or choose from more than 50 service offerings.

Self-service has improved IT service quality and consistency for employees and streamlined the work for the service desk. IT continues to enhance the self-service portal, improving usability and adding functionality. One example is requests for software applications. Now, with automated workflows in Service Manager, the request is sent automatically to the staffer’s manager. “That’s helped everyone, because people can submit whatever they need, and if manager approval is needed, the system will handle the workflow on its own,” Wynn says.

Improved Business-Service Quality

The agency uses Service Manager to manage workflow across IT and business functions. A business analytics team, which is responsible for the query, reporting, and analytics for the core retirement application, will use Service Manager to manage requests for new query tools and reports.

Service Manager supports the workflow of the data warehouse team, which is focused on data quality, so that employees can request new data management reports through the solution. The facilities management team, which handles maintenance for the agency’s offices as well as mail and print services, will soon use Service Manager to handle requests, notices, and incidents.

Tighter Controls over Changes and Releases

Improving the change management process was the catalyst for upgrading to an enterprise-grade IT service management platform. Since then, PERS has tightened operational change controls and management of software releases, which ensures that changes and enhancements are implemented successfully and with the right level of control and accuracy.

With the foundation of change and release management in place, IT plans to mature these processes to further minimize the impact of change-related incidents and improve service quality. “End-to-end change management from request all the way through deployment is one of our next big plans,” Wynn says. “Service Manager will enable that.”

Lesson Learned

IT service quality and efficiency continue to grow. Employees can have IT issues fixed faster and get the digital tools they need to do their job swiftly and with minimal friction. But lessons have been learned along the way—the language of IT is not always the language of business.

“When I first built the service catalog, I looked at it from the perspective of what does IT need to fulfill this request,” Wynn says. “Make sure you work closely with your business to figure out services and the categories,” he advises. “We had to get their view on what we do, not our view of what we do.”