UPS is a globally recognised package distribution, home delivery and parcel collection company, bringing in over $70 billion in revenue last year. To highlight the scale of the organisation's operations, UPS delivers 5.5 billion packages a year, has 495,000 employees and manages 294.9 million online tracking requests each day.
The physical nature of UPS's business isn't stopping it, however, from thinking about how it can make better use of digital technologies to enable its workforce, but also to better service its customers. Part of this thinking includes the rollout of the ServiceNow platform for ITSM - both for internal and external stakeholders - in an attempt to speed up time to resolution and provide a better quality of service for all those involved.
Consequently, UPS's decision to rapidly rollout the ServiceNow platform - in just 27 weeks (which is a very short timeframe for a project of this scale) has served the business well in dealing with the complexity and fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Theresa O'Leary, VP of Application Delivery, said that the company is looking to provide enhanced capabilities and services to its customers, as well as increase its agility and speed in delivery of solutions. One of the first areas that UPS is focusing on is service management. She said:
This is so important to both our employees and our customers, and the area that we chose to start with was ITSM. We started here for several reasons. The first reason was, we had a number of legacy solutions that had been built in-house, custom developed, and had been used for a number of years. That really required a replacement at this point.
We also needed greater agility and quicker response time when we needed to implement, communicate and execute solutions that our teams could use for providing support.
And then in everything that we're doing, we're driving for better and faster response times in terms of how we provide services and solutions to our customers. And so to do that we needed the right platform and the right partner to execute on our vision.
As already established, UPS selected ServiceNow ITSM as its core platform for this venture, but it also worked with Atos Engage ESM as its integration partner throughout the project.
O'Leary explained that the philosophy of UPS is to enable its employees and teams so that they are in the best position possible to focus on supporting customers. Its strategy centres around aligning with business and industry partners, implementing the right technology solutions, and consistently skilling up teams. O'Leary felt that ITSM was an area that could have a direct impact on all three of these categories.
But this was no small task. She added:
Another key factor we looked at in formulating our plans was ensuring that the solutions and partners [could support scale]. Just to give you a sense of the numbers that we needed to support - we have close to 500,000 employees around the globe and operate in over 200 countries. So as you can imagine, we needed a solution and a partner that could support our needs at that scale. Our ITSM base is approximately 5000 users.
As highlighted by O'Leary, UPS was approaching this project with the ambition of consolidating a number of different, highly-customised solutions already in place. These legacy systems had been built using in-house custom code and the aim was to replace them with a single enterprise-wide solution that could be used for service management across UPS.
Another ambition for the roll-out was to introduce better governance around how UPS delivered service management, with a view to making it more consistent across the organisation. The hope was that this would in turn enable better collaboration and the more efficient delivery of services.
UPS also had disparate knowledge bases that it needed to bring together, which should further enable consistency and bring cohesion to the experience for customers.
Our strategy, from a technology perspective, focused on cloud first solutions. That was important for goals we had around being able to rapidly deliver solutions, and also leverage industry best practices and products - taking the best of what's available. Taking what's already out in the industry and learning, versus the custom development we had done previously.
O'Leary's colleague Kim Felix, Application Project Leader at UPS, said that UPS was aiming for a full-scale ITSM implementation in 27 weeks, which is a timeframe it stuck to and achieved. This, however, wasn't just a lift and shift, UPS also took the opportunity to rethink and redesign its processes. Felix said:
We were not only just going to bring the product on board, but we had a lot of siloed processes at UPS that needed to come together. We needed to bring automation into the fold in certain areas, and we couldn't do this without our business partners, signing up and ready to take that journey with us
They were needed to stand up our connectivity, or security, and we were putting together a middleware layer, where we could have an authoritative source for all our core data, which had been in disparate systems before.
We were dramatically changing our processes, introducing automation, asking our employees to do things differently than they do them today. And not only that, we were asking to do all of this at an incredibly fast speed - we did this in 27 weeks. And the only way that we were able to do that was because of the power of the ServiceNow platform, the ability to be able to stand up what we wanted to do very, very quickly.
Something which came as a surprise to Felix and the team was the enthusiasm for the platform that came from the business. UPS had to work with the company's 37 work councils, across 200+ countries to get sign off on the roll-out - given that it was going to touch all workers across the organisation.
Felix said that this can normally take up to six months to do, but the work councils pushed the agreements through quickly, as they identified a strong need for change. She added:
They were very very excited when we put on the table what this was going to mean for our workforce and how it was going to improve what they do, how they do it, and how they interact with us. They helped us expedite that process and we got through it in a very short number of weeks.
Just after UPS went live with its first release, it moved onto the second phase of the project which was focused on change management and then executed on bringing in field service management in the Spring of 2020. It is now considering the use of ServiceNow's CSM module for its external customer desk, as well as delivering live agent chat and on-call scheduling.
We continue with our CMDB enhancements. We're in the middle of converting and are doing our upgrade to the Orlando release. We have also signed on to bring on our other engineering functions. So we have brought the IT organisation on board with all the ITSM functions, but we're bringing our facilities, engineering, as well as our security folks, and other functions, into the mix when it comes to incident, problem, change, knowledge and service catalogue.
All throughout this we deployed minimal viable products. We continue to enhance everything we've delivered today with two week sprints and constant deployment into production.
Unsurprisingly, a project of this scale does not come without its challenges. Primarily, these were concerned with the change management required for a project of this size. As already highlighted, the roll-out was impacting most employees across UPS and required a significant chunk of them to change the way they work and interact with service management. Felix said:
Because we were changing so many processes, there was a large organisational change management process that needed to happen. And we accounted for it, but we accounted for it too late in the lifecycle. I think we would have gotten more benefit by bringing our change champions in early, into the cycle, when we were doing the process design. They could have helped us solve some of the problems that we were running into in the workshops early on.
However, UPS Director of Global Business Services, Sarah Payne, notes that overall UPS has seen great success from its work with ServiceNow thus far. For example, right off the bat UPS was able to automate the profiles of its customers to help employees quickly identify customers with problems, which saves tames for employees and for the customer. Payne notes that the meantime to restore an issue is down 31% in the UPS call centre and the overall handle time is down too.
Not only this, but the timing of the ServiceNow rollout meant that UPS was in a better position to handle the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. UPS played a critical role in the delivery of goods throughout national lockdowns and as more people stayed at home, so its service management needed to be operating efficiently and effectively. She said:
For us to have implemented ServiceNow right before the pandemic, enabled us to be more responsive. We were able to not only support our internal technicians with quickly adaptable solutions in the system, but we were also able to be very agile and develop a self service platform for our employees.
As we sent our workforce to work at home, we were able to use the announcements section in a way that we weren't able to do under our previous platform. And really our team credits a lot of our ability to flex during that time to having ServiceNow in place. The help desk is the most valuable when the organisation is under stress and having problems called in, so certainly it enabled us there.