The next BriefingsDirect innovation panel discussion examines how Health Shared Services BC in Vancouver improves process efficiency and standardization through better integration across health authorities in British Columbia, Canada.
We’ll explore how HSSBC has successfully implemented one of the healthcare industry’s first Service Asset and Configuration Management Systems to help them optimize performance of their IT systems and applications.
To learn more about how HSSBC gains up-to-date single views of IT assets across a shared-services environment, please join me in welcoming our guests, Daniel Lamb, Project Manager for the ITSM Program, and Cam Haley, Program Manager for the ITSM Program, both at HSSBC. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: Gentlemen, tell me first about the context of your challenge. You’re an organization that’s trying to bring efficiency and process improvements across health authorities in British Columbia. What is it about that task that made better IT service management (ITSM) an imperative?
Haley: If you look at the healthcare space, where it is right now within British Columbia, we have the opportunity to look at using our healthcare funding more efficiently and specifically focus on delivering more clinical outcomes for consumers of the services.
That was one of the main drivers behind the formation of HSSBC, to consolidate some of the key supporting and enabling services into an organization that could deliver a standardized set of service offerings across our health authority clients, so that they can focus on clinical delivery.
That was the key business driver around why we’re here and why we are doing some of those things. For us to effectively deliver on that mandate, we need the tools and the process capabilities to be able to effectively deliver more consistent service outcomes, all those things that we want to deliver there, and to look at reducing cost a little long-term so that those cost could be again shifted into clinical delivery and to really enable those outcomes.
Gardner: Daniel, why was a Service Asset and Configuration Management System something that was important to accomplish this?
Lamb: We have been in the process of a large data center migration project over the past three years, moving a lot of the assets out of Vancouver and into a new data center. We standardized on HP infrastructure up in Kamloops and we have — when we put in all our Health Authorities assets, it’s going to be upwards of around probably 6,500-7,000 servers to manage.
As we merged to the super organization, the manual processes just don’t exist anymore. To keep those assets up-to-date we needed an automated system. The reason we went for those products, which included the asset side and the configuration service management, is that’s really our business. We’re going to be managing all these assets for the organization and all the configuration items, and we are providing these services. So this is where the toolset really fitted our goals.
Gardner: So other than scale, size, and the migration, were there any other requirements or problems that you needed to solve that moving into this more modern ITSM capability delivered?
Haley: Just to build on what Daniel said, one of the key drivers in terms of identifying the toolset and the capabilities was to support the migration of infrastructure into the data center.
But along with that, we provide a set of services that go beyond data center. The tool capability that has been delivered in supporting that outcome enables us to focus on optimizing our processes, getting a better view into what’s happening in our own environment. So having the configuration items (CIs) in the configuration management data base (CMDB), having the relationships develop both at the infrastructure level, but all the way up to the application or the business service level.
Now we have a view up and down the stack of what’s going on. We get better analytics and better data, and we can make some better decisions as well around where we want to focus. What are the pain points that we need to target? We ‘re able to mine that stuff and really look at opportunities to optimize.
The tool allows us to standardize our processes and roll out the capabilities. Automation is built into the tool, which is fantastic for us in terms of taking that manual overhead out of that and really just allowing us to focus on other things. So it’s been great.
Gardner: Any unexpected benefits, ancillary benefits, that come from the standardization with this visibility, knowing your organization better that maybe you didn’t anticipate?
Lamb: We’ve been able to track down everything that’s out there. That’s one thing. We just didn’t know where everything was or what we had. So in terms of being able to forecast to the health authorities, “This is how much you need to part with for maintenance, that sort of thing,” that was always a guess in the past. We now have that up-to-date information available.
This has also laid the platform for us to better take advantage of the new technologies that are coming in. So what HP is talking about at the moment, we can’t really take advantage of that, but they have this base platform. It’s going to allow us to take advantage of a lot of the new stuff that’s coming out.
Gardner: So in order to get the efficiency and cost benefits of new infrastructure and converged systems and data center efficiencies, having your ducks lined up and understood is a crucial first step.
Gardner: Looking down the road, what’s piquing your interest in terms of what HP is doing or new developments, or does this now allow you to then progress into other areas that you are interested in?
Lamb: Personally, I’m looking at obviously the new versions of the product sets we have at the moment. We’ve also been speaking to other customers on the success that we’ve had and giving them some lessons learned on how things worked.
Then, we’re looking at some of other products we could build on to this — the PPM, which is the Project Management toolset and the BSM, which is unified monitoring and that sort of thing. Being able to put those products on is where we’ll start seeing even more value, like in terms of being able to reduce the amount of tickets and support cost and that sort of thing. So we’re looking at that.
Then, just ad-hoc interest are the things around the big data and that sort of thing, just trying to get my head around how that works for us, because we have a lot of data. So some of those new technologies are coming out as well.
Gardner: Cam, given what you’ve already done, what has it gotten for you? What are some of the benefits and results that you have seen. Are there any metrics of success that you can share with us?
Haley: The first thing is that we’re still pretty early in our journey out of the gate, if I just talk about what we’ve already achieved. One of the things that we have been able to do is enable our staff to be more effective at what they’re doing.
We’ve implemented change management in particular within the toolset, and that’s giving us a more robust set of controls around what’s actually happening and what’s actually going into the environment. That’s been really important, not only for the staff, although there is bit of a learning curve around that, but in terms of the outcomes for our clients.
They have a higher comfort level that we have more insight or oversight into what’s actually happening in space and we are actually protecting the services that they need to deliver by putting those kinds of capabilities in. So from the process perspective, we’ve certainly been able to get some benefits in that area in particular.
From a client perspective, it’s putting the toolset in it. It helps us develop that level of trust that we really need in order to have an effective partnering relationship with our clients. That’s something that hasn’t always been there in the past.
I’m not saying that we’re all the way there yet, but we’re starting to show that we can deliver the services that the health authorities expect us to deliver, and we are using the toolset to help enable that. That’s also an important aspect.
The other thing is that through the work we’ve done in terms of consolidating some of our contracts, maintenance agreements, and so on into our asset management system, we have a better view of what we’re paying for. We’ve already realized some opportunities to consolidate some contracts and show some savings as well.
That’s just a number of areas where we’re already seeing some benefits. As we start to roll out more of the capabilities of the tool in the coming year and beyond that, we expect that we will get some of those standard metrics that you would typically get out of it. Of course, we’ll continue to drive out the ROI value as well. So we’re already a good way down that path, and we’ll just continue to do that.
Gardner: Any words of wisdom, based on your journey so far, for other organizations that might be struggling with spreadsheets and tracking all of their assets and all of their devices and even the processes around IT support? What have you learned. What could you share to someone who is just starting out?
Lamb: We had a few key lessons that we spoke about. One was the guiding principles that you are going to do the implementation by. We were very much of the approach that we would try to keep things as out-of-the-box as possible. HP, as they are doing the new releases, would pick up the functionality that we are looking for. So we didn’t do a lot of tailoring.
And we did the project in a short cycle. These projects can go on for years sometimes, and a lot of money can get sunk and there isn’t value gained sometimes. We said, “Let’s do these in more short sprint projects. We’ll get something in, we’ll start showing value to the organization, then we’ll get into another thing.” That’s the cycle that we’re working in, and that’s worked really well.
The other thing is that we had a great consultant partner that we worked with, and that was key. We were feeling a little lost when we came here last year, and that was one of the things we did. We went to a good consultant partner, Effectual Systems from San Francisco, and that helped us.
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