Sky Deutschland successfully orchestrates application development and IT Service Management with Micro Focus.
“Our team manages over a thousand requests a year from the business. Using Serena (now part of Micro Focus), we have seen a marked improvement in how jobs are handled, not just within individual teams, but across the whole organization.”
Head of Program Platforms & Webportals
Sky is all about entertaining, exciting and inspiring customers with an unrivalled choice of great TV. The Sky brand stands for the best choice of television entertainment available, giving customers high-quality programming that they can’t find elsewhere, putting innovative services into their homes and improving satisfaction with strong customer service at great value.
Subscription pay-TV is Sky’s core business. Sky, which currently has over 2.7 million subscribers, offers a wide range of programming in Germany and Austria, including feature films, news series and live sports, especially the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and the UEFA Champions League. Sky sets a new standard with its HDTV service, which comprises 27 HD channels. The company also offers its subscribers attractive films, live sports programming and adult entertainment on a pay-per-view basis. Sky distributes its pay-TV service primarily via satellite and cable with a technical reach of approximately 90% of all TV households in Germany and Austria. In addition, Sky also broadcasts some of its services via internet as well as on the iPad or the iPhone.
Previously known as Premiere, the company relaunched under the Sky brand in July 2009. As part of this process, the company also decided to re-evaluate its IT strategy, including how workloads and processes are tracked and managed. The team involved realized that it needed to improve Sky’s process management around the company’s software and applications.
“We strive to offer the best service for our customers. Naturally, this standard also has to include how we manage our own information technology systems,” explains Christian Rohrhofer. “We work with a number of outside development teams and outsource companies, so managing efforts across internal and external developers is a critical concern for us. We decided to evaluate approaches that could improve our processes around IT management and application development, with usability, configuration, and an open data model as key criteria.
The main business need for Sky was to efficiently prioritize and track development requests that were processed by Sky’s IT and development team, and then outsourced to the company’s various service providers, including ATOS Origin and Deloitte. As business users make requests over email for new functionality or changes, these would have to be evaluated, costed and then prioritized depending on the severity of the change and the requirement it would meet. Any new process would have to ensure that requests could be tracked by the business user who initially made the demand, even when this was being processed by the outsourcing provider.
Sky looked at three business process management solutions and selected Micro Focus SBM as the best for the business due to its flexibility and ease of use. SBM offers a variety of features allowing simple and fast creation of business processes and trend reports. These features enable flexible administration and version control of software applications across the entire development and delivery chain. With the SBM-powered system, Sky would be able to automatically route more than 3,000 email requests that the IT team receives from the company’s business users and then close the loop by providing these users with full status information on their requests. Another important decision factor for the pay TV operator was the option to implement SBM in phases: “This meant we didn’t have to introduce all of the features simultaneously, and allowed us to proceed in stages and at a pace that would suit us,” comments Rohrhofer. “As we complete each project, we can see further opportunities to integrate workflows better and improve management response times in other areas of the business.”
The first stage of implementation for SBM was to support Sky’s IT project administration processes, including service workflows, accounting controls, and project management. SBM met everyone’s expectations straight away, providing more efficiency and reducing the amount of effort required.
“The user interface is very well structured and can be operated intuitively. The staff members working with the software were enthusiastic from the very beginning. Additionally, we don’t have to expend a lot of effort to maintain the implementation. In total, we spend less than ten hours per year on this,” says Rohrhofer. “Since this project went live, the reduction in paperwork and automation of tasks reduced our administration time by about 25%, and responses back to the business were accelerated by 100%.”
Based on the positive initial experiences with the software, Sky planned and implemented the next stages in quick succession. Rohrhofer and the team at Sky found it easy to improve its development of additional processes and workflows. In close collaboration with Micro Focus consultants, the next step was to develop Sky Specific processes in order to support requirements on a departmental level. The list included cost rates, dynamic cost totals, and a workflow for internal service charges. Connecting to Active Directory via LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is another integral part of the application deployed by Sky.
SBM is now used to manage and track projects across IT supplier requests, internal IT cost allocation, and internet projects, as well as for managing development across the company and its external suppliers. It also supplies valuable information on the status of requests back to the internal business users that are responsible for the project demand.
“The change history feature is incredibly valuable to us, as it enables us to see everything that has taken place around a software change or update at a glance,” says Rohrhofer. “This feature means that we can take an approach that follows ITIL guidelines around collection, distribution, and prioritization of change requests with full life cycle management and auditability. As an example, we manage about 300 new items a month in our IT-Development Request Tracker; with SBM, our management overhead around these software development packages and interaction with our outsourcing suppliers has been reduced by 50%.