CIO Innovator

CIO/CTO shapes up shared services strategy and puts the fun into ITSM

When Bart Murphy was hired three years ago as vice president of shared services at the CareWorks Family of Companies, a shared services strategy was a distant dream.

Bart Murphy, CIO/CTO, CareWorksBart Murphy

Comprised of six companies, Dublin, Ohio based CareWorks is one of the largest managed care organizations in the state. Its companies offer a variety of services, including workers' compensation, compliance consulting and vocational rehabilitation.

When Murphy arrived, the largest of CareWorks' companies was ending an outsourcing arrangement of nearly 15 years, and bringing its IT operations in-house. The other five companies were served by a combination of internal teams and a tech services business that had been bought eight years before and made part of CareWorks Tech. The internal IT services, however, varied from CareWorks company to company, depending on the sophistication of the business users and whether they were corporate-based or remote.

Making matters more complex, CareWorks Tech, (of which Murphy was named president last year) was also providing IT services to external customers. In addition, the parent company routinely acquired businesses, which brought along their own IT assets and processes with them, adding yet another layer of IT services to the mix. All in all, the CareWorks family of companies was more Modern Family than Leave it to Beaver when it came to IT service management.

ITSM is not a really passionate type of discussion to have -- most people don't even want to have the discussion; it's so boring.

Bart Murphy, CIO/CTO, CareWorks

Where others might see this landscape as impossibly complicated, Murphy (now CIO/CTO of CareWorks) saw greenfield opportunity. The insourcing project not only presented a chance to rebuild and refresh IT systems, it also was the ideal time to rationalize IT service management across the six companies. But how to do this?

Building new IT systems from the ground up to take advantage of new technology and pave the way for an IT infrastructure that enabled businesses innovation is pretty exciting stuff.

"Folks in technology like to be working on newer platforms where you can do more work with less effort," Murphy said. But rationalizing how IT services are provided, tracked and procured by the business users?

"ITSM [IT Service Management] is not a really passionate type of discussion to have," he said. "Most people don't even want to have the discussion; it's so boring."

Shared services strategy: First, make it fun

As the company's new IT leader, Murphy wanted his team to be excited and engaged in his vision of a well-oiled shared IT services model. But he knew from experience that ITSM tools tend to get a bad rap, deservedly so.

"Historically, IT folks haven't been able to get a lot out of the tools; they haven't been able to do a lot of reporting or workflow or quickly make changes," he said. "They're stuck with what they got and that's the way it is until nine years later when the server goes down" and the tools have to be replaced.

To give his IT staff ownership of the new tool it would be working with, he included all 50 team members in the procurement process. The unanimous vote was for Software as a Service provider ServiceNow, which offers cloud-based service management within IT departments and throughout the enterprise.

The cloud-based ITSM platform, with its instant upgrades, flexibility and sophistication, was not so difficult of a sell. It would also provide CareWorks with a configuration management database. This would finally give IT the ability to gain real insight into its data. The team could be part of automating and improving IT operations by leveraging this platform versus just using a system for help desk tickets.

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"In the same manner and the same way that the business units were mature from a metric perspective in looking at their operation, I wanted to make sure we had a similar type of view into IT," Murphy said.

To ensure a quick start, the team got help from consultants for the first two months and then moved forward on its own. 

"We sent people to training and we did a lot of our own technical training here to explore and go through the applications," Murphy said. "It was the best way for us to get ramped up, and really from a management perspective, there was no appetite to be beholden to a vendor in relation to such an important platform."

The decision was also made to adopt two instances of the ServiceNow platform, one for internal operations and one that would be used for CareWorks Tech's external customers.

In the second part of this two-part story, Bart Murphy discusses how he's using the platform and the difference it's making for IT and the business.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.


This was first published in March 2014