Barnardo's takes a fresh business-first approach to ITSM support

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels December 13, 2023
Freshworks technology gives the charity the platform it needs to make sure valuable resources are dedicated to the right areas of the organization.


Barnardo's is one of the most famous UK charities, supporting over 370,000 children, young people, parents and carers, as well as running 590 retail stores. It’s essential that its critical frontline staff are able to spend as much time as possible on their work rather than operational challenges.

Michelle Smith, Program Manager at Barnardo’s, explains: 

When our social workers are out and about, we don't want them worrying about how they’ll claim expenses or book leave. We don't want to take their time away from frontline services.

To ensure Barnardo’s gives its people the support they require, the charity is using the Freshservice IT Service Management platform from Freshworks. This provides one place for people to receive support or to self-serve, whether it’s a complicated incident or a routine query. Smith says:

End users can be confident they can see the whole process and be kept up to date on what's happening. Our back-end team has transparency about the work they undertake. They can view the trends, see where there’s gaps in knowledge and identify where they may need to address certain things.

Freshservice provides a fully auditable service desk that replaces shared inboxes in Outlook. The previous reliance on inboxes meant it was tough for staff, such as new joiners and hybrid workers, to find answers to support questions, according to Smith: 

We have a lot of functional teams that provide services across the organization. Each of those teams have inboxes they manage. It was difficult for end users to know which inbox they needed to go to for which things, so a lot of time was wasted trying to track down the team you needed to speak with.

To address this, Barnardo’s has developed a program of work called Integrated Business Services, which brings the charity’s disparate teams together. The Freshservice platform provides a one-stop Knowledge Base for support across those integrated services, says Smith:

We're trying to develop a culture of self-service for more routine queries. We feel the Knowledge Base platform, and the tools associated with that platform, are much better than some of the tools we've had previously.

The Barnardo’s Knowledge Base includes a range of articles that help employees get quick answers to pressing questions with the aim of creating a repository of quick answers. Smith gives the example of people asking payroll for the charity’s PAYE tax code:

The payroll team have got more important things to be dealing with than the same email over and over again. So, we have a knowledge article, which is called, ‘What is our PAYE reference number?’. Something as simple as that article can change the process and reduce the number of emails.

Supporting business change

The first stage of the charity’s implementation went live in May 2021. Rather than starting with the IT department, Smith started the implementation process with the organization’s business functions:

The business users didn't have any system and everyone was using shared mailboxes. IT had a ticketing system, albeit an aged one, and they also had a number of significant projects they were managing. It didn't make sense to start with our IT team because we could deliver benefits more swiftly with our business functions.

Smith recalls that one of the biggest challenges to implementing Freshservice was getting employees used to a new way of working. While people weren’t keen on the old system that used shared inboxes, some end users were nervous about the new platform. However, once they started using Freshworks, they could see the benefits, she says:

They can see each other's work, so nothing gets lost, we don't lose continuity and there's no duplication. People can also add notes and keep each other up to date on a ticket. So, although there's a natural nervousness, because they had their well-worn routines within their inbox, they swiftly saw the benefits.

Last year, Barnardo’s moved from its existing Oracle ERP system to Microsoft Dynamics. The charity used the Freshservice system to manage the IT change process with employees able to use the platform to submit service request forms. Smith observes:

Freshservice is also a useful tool during massive change programs. The teams that dealt with the transformation are now on the platform. So, although we haven't got IT on the platform yet, we've got a tiny aspect on the system.

During the next 12 months, the IT team will finally move over to the platform, a transition that will lead to the technology organization getting more involved. Smith says:

Now that we’re bringing the technical team in, we’re having a review of what we've done so far. We’re making sure we’re compliant with ISO certifications and data protections before bringing in our next bunch of teams.

As part of this review process, teams across Barnardo’s will also be prepared for updated features in Freshservice, including Workspaces. Smith explains: 

We're looking at how we engage our internal teams and make sure we've got a clear vision as we bring more teams in, especially IT. All that work is going to be the springboard for looking at processes that are cross-functional. 

For other digital leaders who are thinking of implementing Freshservice, Smith says it’s critical to understand the services you want to deliver and to get the right processes in place:

The end-user experience is the key to cracking it and engaging with your own internal teams. So, engage with your end users and process map their requirements.

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