About a year ago, Sibelga went looking for of a new provider for its service desk. “We send out a call for tender every five years,” says Jean-Louis Mapessa, Head of IT Production at Sibelga. “For this tender, we emphasised in particular the fact that we wanted to resolve as many issues as possible in first line.”
Saving time and money
There are about 1,000 employees at Sibelga, of whom 750 working on computers. They call the NRB service desk about 800 times a month. On average, 650 of these calls are now being resolved immediately. Jean-Louis Mapessa: “This is in line with the 80% resolution rate we requested, which saves us a lot of time and money. My colleagues are also much happier when their computer problems are resolved quickly.”
Sibelga has been running its own IT department, which currently employs 200 people including external personnel, for about ten years. Before this, Electrabel was in charge of IT operations. But Sibelga has never considered running its own service desk. “It is a complex business that requires a specific structure and a particular set of human skills that we do not necessarily have says Jean-Louis Mapessa. “When people call a service desk, it is because something is not working properly. They may be unhappy, or even frustrated or angry. It takes a special kind of person and service attitude to deal with situations like this effectively.”
Sibelga employees can call the service desk for problems with their PCs, applications and peripherals such as printers. There is not yet any support foreseen for laptops, tablets or smartphones. “We have standardised and centralised our infrastructure, and we are serving all applications over Citrix to thin clients, so we do not think we are NRB’s most complex customer. Our architecture should also make support easier. Besides, we have delivered a series of routing scripts that the service desk staff can use to solve the most common problems,” adds Jean-Louis Mapessa.
Suitable tools and good practices
The service desk is being run according to ITIL specifications, as are most of Sibelga’s IT operations. Sibelga is still fine-tuning its service catalogue, but all the major decisions about standard processes have already been taken. This is again something that should make support easier. Service desk requests are managed in Omninet’s Omnitracker software, which is a tool that offers full transparency, because it is not just service desk personnel using it. Anyone working at Sibelga can also use this software to check the status of his or her individual requests.
Using Omnitracker was only one of the conditions in Sibelga’s tender, next to the fact that the team had to be located in Belgium. “We looked for the best value, obviously, but we also wanted much more than information on paper,” says Jean-Louis Mapessa. “The two main criteria for deciding who would run our service desk are reference customers and the actual operations themselves. We made quite a few visits to help us make our minds up. In a first phase we went to talk to a couple of reference customers without their supplier – NRB in this case – being present. These open conversations helped us work out how a future supplier would really behave. NRB’s customers were satisfied.”
Jean-Louis Mapessa: “Then we went over to NRB’s operational centre where we spent a couple of hours checking out how everything worked in practice. I have to say that we were very impressed by NRB’s service desk team. What was most remarkable was the very low number of service requests that were on hold waiting for a solution. Quite often there were none at all. This contrasted with other potential providers we visited, where we sometimes saw very long queues.”
"We made the right choice"
NRB has been working for Sibelga for just under a year, so the results from an internal satisfaction survey are not available yet. When we spoke to Jean-Louis Mapessa, he was actually planning to have them sent out within a couple of weeks. But previous satisfaction rates have been quite high, and Jean-Louis Mapessa expects this to remain stable. “I have not had any serious complaints about the services provided by NRB, so I am confident we have made the right choice. The high resolution rate is still the most important thing for us. In the next phase we will be looking at permanent process innovation with the NRB team.”