I didn't play golf much before TaylorMade, but now obviously I love it, I play it a lot. I'm not that great, but I get better every day.
So says Ali Chitsaz, Senior Manager, Client Experience, at TaylorMade Golf Company, a US sports equipment manufacturer centered on the golf equipment market, producing golf clubs, balls, and clothing.
Practice makes perfect, of course, but practice takes time - and extra time is one of the benefits that Chitsaz and the firm as a whole are seeing from their adoption of an ITSM (IT Service Management) solution from Freshworks. He confesses:.
One of my motivations is actually to be be able to play more golf, so to be able to set up easy automations that allow after hours approvals to happen without me getting involved...We went from getting hauled off the golf course a lot more when I first started working here, to now when you are called off after hours or on a weekend, you're getting detailed information and it's pretty quick. You can act on it and move on, whereas before it was like, 'Oh, an email! Major! Everyone get on'. So I always say it's a little bit of a motivation for me to get more time on the golf course by getting these tools out there.
Flash back three years to when Chitsaz joined the firm as it was teeing off a major ‘cloud first’ initiative across the organization. As part of this, an RFP was issued for a new ITSM tool to improve operational efficiency. As “an ITSM guy myself”, Chitsaz had been here before and not been left with the best of memories
I had a previous experience with ITSM. Development and getting the implementation was really difficult.
But not to be put off his stroke, this time around was to be different following the selection of Freshworks Freshservice, he goes on:
One of the big selling factors for us was the fact that my service desk team wasn't going to have to add a developer to be be able to implement this. We worked really closely with our implementation team. We had a plan to go live in around 90 days and we beat that by 45 days and got live extremely quickly. We were going to stage out our release by starting with Incident, go to Problem and Change and Asset. We were able to do that so quickly and so fast.
The ease of the technology was a huge factor for TaylorMade, he explains:
Usually what happens is someone gives you a scope and then that scope has to go to a person disconnected from the process, and they have to build it out. Whereas with Freshservice, we can do a workshop where the owner of the process comes in and we literally build it out with them. So the person that knows the process intimately is sitting there with the drag-and-drop and goes through each of the steps. At the end of it, we get a validation that is very hard to get inside of an IT room.
For us, that was huge, because as we move to being remote and hybrid [post-pandemic], you have to be able to work with these people remotely, be able to quickly set up for a workflow that says, 'Hey, I need to create this request item to be able to get someone's vaccine [status]' or whatever it was. We could do that where it used to take sprints, and now we're talking about an hour. You literally have a meeting, you set it up, you do the workflow, you test it out, you put it into CAB [Change Advisory Board], it gets announced and boom, it's in production.
This is not resource-hungry in the way that older solutions have been, he notes:
My whole Freshservice is managed by one guy. That could have never happened on a previous generation, where I can have one person literally handling over a thousand users coming in and all these different requests, and being able to do it plus some other work.
This new approach has caught attention across the organization, he adds:
Once other people started to see that, then we started getting flood of people saying, 'Oh, I want to get this'. So we started with 25 or 30 request items; we're now in the hundreds with all the different customizations that people want…The biggest issue now with this is actually people trying to add more request items and workflows because they're like, 'Hold on - you're telling me I can do this and my offshore people now can get an approval and then we can orchestrate it automatically in the middle of the night and I don't have to wake up?'. So it's a game changer for us.
Having the Freshworks solution in place came in particularly useful during the COVID crisis, when remote working became the order of the day, he recalls:
Like everyone, we had to transition to a work-from-home environment last year. Without this tool that would not have happened as seamlessly as it did for us. Golf was one of the first things to come back [after initial lockdowns] and so we had to move really quickly, first to work-from-home, then really quickly to support all of our partners in the world and move from a place where we used to do everything in person, when you'd go and show someone the new clubs or whatever it was, to a virtual aspect for that.
A fresh challenge for the Vaccine Economy, as the return to the office has begun is the need to be able to track and manage the location and return of equipment that the remote workforce had taken receipt of. This could have been an operational sand trap without the creation of tickets for all the monitors keyboards, docking stations etc, says Chitsaz:
We're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment that was easily tracked and brought back in. If it wasn't for the fact that we went 'cloud first' before the pandemic, it would have been a major struggle. Our previous tool was on-premise - we would have been screwed!
As for key learnings that other organizations might heed, Chitsaz offers:
Focus your work on the things that are really going to help your guys the most, so you're not focusing on maybe something that's only used a few times a year, but maybe the one that's used a few times an hour. Go down those lists and then also take a look at your processes and see if they're efficient. So [you’re] taking that advantage when you're looking at it and saying, 'Hey, let's actually meet with these owners of these processes, and make sure this is actually what we need to do'.