About Volkswagen Financial Services
Volkswagen Financial Services (VWFS) has been an integral part of the Volkswagen Group for over 70 years. Active in nearly 50 markets and employing over 16,500 people, it is the world’s largest automotive financial services provider.
SMAX Supports Operational Excellence Initiative
When VWFS employees needed a new laptop, or a virtual server, or even hand soap or office supplies, they placed these orders by phone. However, in today’s world people expect a Google or Amazon-like user experience where an internal company service is just a couple of clicks away. So, as part of a group-wide operational excellence initiative, the organization decided to simplify and automate recurring processes, to reduce cost and improve its service delivery. It also supports a ‘shift-left’ approach, transferring service desk activities to the portal and enabling sophisticated self-serve opportunities for end users.
Paulina Otte, Project Manager at VWFS, explains further: “We already use Micro Focus Service Manager to organize our backend fulfillment processes and this contains all our relevant business logic. In discussion with our partner Materna we explored building on this to create a cloud-based portal frontend. Materna specializes in secure and flexible cloud infrastructure and is ideally placed to support this initiative.”
Marika Hruszka, Project Lead for Materna, takes up the story:
Agile Workflow Development and Enhanced Security
SMAX is based on modern and innovative container technology which eased the implementation process. The project team relied on agile methods with continuous testing by developers and users throughout the development process. Testing software at an early stage helps to find errors in the application early and f ix them in a timely manner. Materna also managed the cloud environment set up and drafted a security concept, including comprehensive monitoring and disaster recovery. The team then used a custom-designed component to automate the roll-out of the web front end in various stages, i.e., development, consolidation, and production with SMAX being implemented on AWS infrastructure.
Leveraging many years of ITIL know-how, Materna implemented workflows for how new services are integrated into the service catalog and then transferred to the portal. Backend processes have also been integrated and additional workflows regulate the status queries and the interaction with the end users, both within the portal as well as during the order fulfillment. “Improving security was a key objective of this project,” comments Marika Hruszka. “The AWS infrastructure was connected to an existing VWFS data center via AWS Direct Connect which creates a dedicated network connection to AWS. Within this infrastructure we carried out security analyses using AWS Inspector to systematically rule out possible system gaps or vulnerabilities. The production environment was secured using AWS Shield and the AWS Web Application Firewall to prevent possible DDOS attacks and rule out unauthorized external access. The hybrid application relies on Service Manager at the back end, with SMAX providing the fully integrated AWS browser-based portal.”
Improved Helpdesk Productivity and Future Automation Plans
The international self-service portal ‘FS.Get’ was launched and globally approximately 12,000 VWFS employees can access the portal. Employees can open tickets for IT malfunctions, report IT security incidents, or request application access. SMAX flexibly offers IT and non-IT services, including office furniture, multi-media equipment, water dispensers, and office supplies. At the same time developers can request infrastructure services such as virtual Windows servers, backup services and databases, or activation of a load balancing server for web components in case a higher volume of customer requests is expected. In total over 200 different services and products are available to employees. A standardized and automated order process is supported by intuitive application forms. The system stores clear approval processes to always ensure a real-time transparent status of each request.
Paulina Otte says: “The Materna experts gave us detailed advice on AWS and SMAX, ensuring an efficient global self-service implementation. The development is ongoing, and we regularly publish new services with Materna’s support. Helpdesk employees now focus on value-add activities, as users perform standard services, such as password resets, themselves.”