Supporting customers like the Army Reserve Engineers demands detailed tracking and responsiveness to helpdesk requests. Over the years, CACI had implemented four different applications to manage ticket tracking, defect management, enhancement requests, and project workflows. While each application brought improvements, overall data sharing was inadequate, often resulting in incomplete status updates. There were tickets that had been resolved but the user had not been properly notified, and defects that required multiple tasks to correct without clear accountability for each step.
Improving accountability and enhancing collaboration was CACI’s goal. Integrating and automating the various helpdesk components would add traceability throughout the process with instant status reporting, detailed history tracking, and clear relationships among the various tasks. “We were jettisoning four different applications that did not ‘talk to each other’ very well, in favor of one centralized application that did,” said Tyson Faircloth, Program Manager at CACI. The improvements in team communication would also raise productivity and enforce business rules.
CACI decided to look for a system that could replace its mix of purchased and homegrown applications. After using Micro Focus Solutions Business Manager to design and implement a few processes, CACI engineers began to see significant potential for operational benefits, both internally and with their customers.
After CACI put its first Micro Focus-based helpdesk solution into operation, its customers saw the obvious benefits for themselves. One of the biggest selling points is the fact that the applications are accessible from anywhere. Most customer applications are hosted within the confines of a secure network, and inaccessible from other networks – even from another secure government network. The Micro Focus solution offers a secure web-based interface that is accessible from anywhere with Internet access, including handheld devices, with no client software to install. Existing directory services or smart cards handle user authentication, with multiple levels of access. The switch over was a positive experience, with at least half of the users comfortable with the new system within two days, and the remainder within two weeks.
The solution readily connects to different data sources with Web services, making it easy to leverage resources inside and outside the organization – for example, automatically sending proposals to a supplier’s quote request system, putting approved purchase orders directly into an order management system, and getting back purchase order numbers or other task identification to retain links between the tasks.
After implementing the first four workflows, CACI and its customer saw the potential for broader deployment. “We never intended to go past the first four workflows, but we saw how easy it was to do that and how any business process could be automated,” said Tyson. Where appropriate, processes are extending and integrating directly with customer applications and data. SBM is becoming one of the most significant growth areas for CACI’s business, as customers realize the benefits of easier enforcement of business policies, increased accountability, and enhanced tracking and task history.
Automating processes with Micro Focus not only avoids user resistance, it also makes it easier to enforce business process rules. For example, expense report policies are automatically applied, violations flagged, and sent to the appropriate person for approval and payment. As Tyson observed, “We saw that processes were not being followed in a standard fashion across the team, but all the ones we released with the Micro Focus solution were.”
Using the solution, accountability for each task is directly and clearly attributed to the owner. Organizations need information on historical activities, for auditing, and retaining intellectual capital. Tyson remarked that, unlike emails, which are archived on individual desktops and may omit key people, “even if you weren’t in the chain, you could see its history."
As areas for improvement are identified through user comment or historical analysis, workflows can be modified quickly and easily. “Our motto is months, not years, to release major workflows; and days, not weeks, to add fields or minor modifications,” Tyson concluded.