End Of An Era – Into A New Business Model?
Having successfully transitioned from print to digital, the Auto Trader branded website forms the core part of the TMG business. AutoTrader.co.uk is the UK’s leading motoring website with over 11 million unique users per month across online and mobile platforms.
The original ‘Thames Valley Trader’ magazine was launched in 1977 and has become an iconic publication in the UK, demonstrated by the fact that its demise was mentioned on Chris Evans BBC Radio2 Breakfast Show. The last print edition of the classifieds magazine was published in June 2013 marking the start of a new era for the business. As a fully digital business with 11 million unique visitors a month, serving up to 65 million page impressions a day, and Sunday as the busiest day of the week, the company needs a fully proactive and supportive 24 x 7 IT support operation to ensure the service is available to customers. Projects supporting future growth.
Trader Media Group (TMG) I&IS requested an assessment be performed in May 2013 to evaluate and report on the current maturity levels of five IT Service Management (ITSM) processes within their IT organisation. This assessment compares the maturity results found against the best practices described by the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) framework. In addition Pink Elephant was asked to assess ‘Service Introduction’ as a process as well. The stated objective of this process maturity assessment was to establish a foundation for process development, especially as compared to the previous assessment that was carried out in March 2011, and to be used to develop specific plans for future process improvement initiatives.
Jonathan Leckey, current Head of Operations, recalls that when he joined the company around 5 years ago they were experiencing lots of downtime, approximately 4 major incidents per month and that they were unable to establish root cause of the failures. As the Head of Service Management, Jonathan and the team worked hard to implement core processes to improve the service levels through a proactive approach, and the results of the process maturity assessment validated this. The team were so pleased with the results, the report was sent to the Chief Executive, who was from a sales background. This was a marketing exercise for the Service Management team. Not only did it help to put their work into the context of the business for the CEO, but it also demonstrated clearly how well they were performing against peers within their industry.
TMG engaged with Pink Elephant after the Problem Manager saw Peter Hubbard, senior consultant presenting at a seminar on Problem Management, and insisted they be bought in to assist.
Having worked with Pink Elephant on a number of projects, Jonathan says ‘Peter is knowledgeable, an expert in his field, comes armed with an ITIL process toolkit, is quick to identify solutions, and has a great sense of humour. We operate within an open and honest culture, and so do Pink Elephant, which is why we have a genuine working partnership.
With a 20 year background in IT and ITIL driven environments, Jonathan knows from experience that if implemented in an overly prescriptive fashion, ITIL can be inflexible. What Jonathan set out to successfully demonstrate was that ITIL could be practical and pragmatic and align with other key methodologies such as Agile, which was being implemented in the software development areas. The key was to demonstrate that operations is flexible in its approach and is working hard to deliver positive results.
Common is the pressure to reduce headcount, and this has impacted the Service Management team. The drive to reduce numbers meant that the team was deployed across multiple activities and Jonathan is keen to ensure that the services are not disrupted. A good balance of employees rather than contracted staff ensures a consistency in levels of knowledge and subsequently levels of customer service. Rather than insist on a formalised training path for achievement of credits, TMG has ITIL embedded within their own tailored induction programme to ensure knowledge transfer and an external process review helps to ensure they remain on the right track to providing world class services.
With the business responding to the changing market, the transition from a publishing to a fully digital model means IS operates within a very dynamic environment, more technical complexity is added with increased interdependencies. With the business now operating solely in the online environment, the key is now accessibility, availability and uptime. IS as a function is critical to underpin and support this transition and the team are working hard to streamline not only problem, change and release management, but the key service management processes.
A new business model, infrastructure and CEO ensures that the support requirements for the IS division will remain at the forefront of demand for the coming years. Future goals include large scale projects around cloud based hosting and achieving ISO/IEC 20000. Pink Elephant looks forward to supporting TMG in these transition projects as they evolve.