Rödl & Partner

Global IT services with Efecte: (almost) everything, everywhere, all at once

The consulting and auditing company Rödl & Partner was founded in Nuremberg in 1977 by Dr. Bernd Rödl. His son, Prof. Dr. Christian Rödl, has been Chairman of the company since the beginning of 2011. In addition to auditing, Rödl & Partner is dedicated to the business areas of legal and tax consulting, business process outsourcing (BPO) as well as corporate and IT consulting.

Turnover amounted to just under 590 million euros at the end of 2022. Rödl & Partner provides this service with around 5,500 employees at more than 100 locations in over 50 countries. Rödl & Partner founded Global Digital Services GmbH with 180 IT experts to support internal users. The Service Desk receives an average of 4,500 incidents and 3,000 service requests per month.

The Challenge: Globally operating ITSM

The search for a global IT service management system was complex for Rödl & Partner, but ultimately successful. With Efecte, the company can now offer a service desk that implements the “follow-the-sun” principle, i.e. receives inquiries and solves IT problems around the clock, 365 days a year. The new ITSM tool replaces several old systems, is operated centrally in the Efecte cloud and is used worldwide. In the meantime, not only the core processes - incident and problem management as well as service requests - are in use. Rödl & Partner also uses the system for a whole range of other IT processes such as change management and reporting. The specialist departments are also already showing great interest.

The Satellite Principle

When the working day begins in Singapore or Shanghai, most employees in Nuremberg are still asleep. Employees in Poland head home while Brazil or Mexico are having their lunch break. In a globally active company, IT services can therefore hardly be offered from a single location - at least not without overtime and night work. Apart from that, staff with knowledge of Mandarin, Thai or Portuguese are rare in Germany.

However, flawlessly functioning IT systems are crucial for a consulting company's competitiveness. This is why Rödl & Partner decided a few years ago to reorganize its IT service management (ITSM) - according to the “satellite principle”, as it is known in-house: More than a dozen service centers were installed in Europe, South America and Asia, which are located in the same time zone as the respective users and also speak their language. The ITSM tools are controlled centrally from Germany.

Such a construct requires a standardized system that can be used everywhere and by all employees equally. It should also take into account the cultural needs of the people involved, for example enabling requests to be sent in their native language. Rudolf Schraml, Head of Global IT Operations & Service and Deputy CIO at Rödl & Partner, rates such requirements higher than strict adherence to frameworks such as ITIL or Cobit.

"The system must adapt to the company, it's no good just stubbornly implementing predefined processes"

ERIKA PROTZEL, SERVICE-MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST

Rödl & Partner

The Requirements

Rödl & Partner had previously been using two different ITSM systems. There was one domain and one service team in Germany and one in Poland. As the ticket systems were not compatible, there was a risk of communication problems as well as functional overlaps. The situation needed to be improved. This is why the decision was made in May 2018 to standardize the ITSM system and replace the existing solutions with a comprehensive toolbox.

“With a standardized solution, we first wanted to avoid media disruptions and redundancies,” says Stephen Thontteh-Schilling, team leader at the company's own Global Digital Services GmbH, summarizing the original motivation for replacing the ITSM software. There were also other requirements for the new system, some of which were quite ambitious. Here are some of the most important points:

  • Availability around the clock
  • High availability and service quality
  • Standardized processes
  • First-time fix rate of more than 50 percent
  • Seamless embedding in the existing infrastructure
  • Monthly reporting, initially on request, later automated
  • Integrated asset, configuration and change management
  • Catalog system with self-service for service requests
  • Direct access options for authorized suppliers
  • Automatic generation of cross-process and cross-team workflows from event management

Rödl & Partner was supported in the search for a suitable system by its long-standing partner Bechtle. Together, they initially opted for the product of a major german telecommunications provider. However, this proved to be unsuitable in practice. “The tool was geared towards large companies with rigid processes,” says Thontteh-Schilling. His conclusion: “A standardized approach simply did not correspond to the agile way of working that we use in our processes.”

The team therefore rethought and followed an explicit recommendation from Bechtle - for the product portfolio of the Finnish provider Efecte, which has long been based in Germany. With this solution, Rödl & Partner was able to implement what suited the company best from the outset. In addition, Efecte was a supplier “at eye level” with a direct contact person and regular feedback rounds.

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The Solution: Flexibility

However, there was little time available for the introduction. The system had to be up and running within two months. Without a turbo project, Rödl & Partner would have lost its ticket system from October 2018. The team of eleven - seven members from Rödl & Partner and four from Bechtle - therefore decided on an “incremental” approach: First, they implemented the three core processes of incident management, problem management and service requests as quickly as possible.

The most important factor for the success of the project is the team. It is essential that they understand and accept the processes.

Protzel and her colleagues had missed this flexibility in the previous system. For example, every incident or request was always routed via the same one-way street. The decentralized routing concept pursued by Rödl & Partner, on the other hand, splits into three paths right at the entrance: German-speaking, international with responsibility for the Polish team and global via the “satellites”. The ITSM specialist is certain: “We would not have been able to implement our routing concept with the previous solution.”

 

The same applies to the handling of first and second level support. Rödl & Partner had defined the goal of resolving as many incidents as possible at the initial level. And the company has already achieved a rate of more than 40 percent. However, some incidents are also immediately routed to the second processing level, where they are dealt with by employees who are geographically close and have a good knowledge of the local language. This process can be easily defined in Efecte, whereas the software previously used always required first-level handling first.

Protzel and Thontteh-Schilling also find it helpful to be able to process individual tasks separately in Efecte instead of always pushing the entire ticket forward. This feature was first implemented in Security Incident Management, where high speed is required. By delegating subtasks, tasks can now be completed in parallel and therefore overall faster.

The Future: ESM                      Quick Wins

In addition to the flexibility of the product and the support from the provider, the ITSM professionals at Rödl & Partner also praise the options for comprehensive reporting. “Efecte makes it easy to create customized views for global reports,” says Protzel. With the help of “Power BI”, it is even possible to receive regular automatic status reports. For Rödl & Partner, integration with the Microsoft tool is therefore a wish for the future.

The planned service catalog for the requests is already in the starting blocks, but is still waiting for version 2 of Efecte's self-service portal (ESS2). Efecte and the consulting company have entered into an innovation partnership in which they are also jointly driving forward the development of ESS2. The new release is expected to be generally released in the course of 2024.

The innovation partnership has existed for around two years, i.e. since Rödl & Partner moved from the on-premise installation to the cloud. “As a security-sensitive company, we first had to build up trust,” says Protzel, explaining the initial reluctance. However, this decision quickly paid off in the form of high availability and flexible capacities.

The “Virtual Coach” is currently still on the to-do list. This is an AI feature of Efecte that can generate solution suggestions for current requests from tickets that have already been processed. To do this, it uses the knowledge database that Rödl & Partner has created in Efecte, which currently contains around 1,000 entries. With around 7,000 tickets per month, the Virtual Coach could significantly reduce the workload of the service desk staff.

Rödl & Partner has already implemented a sophisticated authorization concept in Efecte - with a surprising result: the solution can now also be used by the business areas. The Human Resources department already uses the HR module from the Finnish provider. And recently, the departments that generate sales also want to use the ticket system to make their customer-related processes simpler and faster. This will turn the original ITSM into an ESM, says Protzel: “With the solution from Efecte, we are evolving towards Enterprise Service Management.”

  • The solution could be introduced incrementally and successively adapted.
  • This meant that it was ready for use before the contract for the previous system expired.
  • The decentralized routing (“satellite concept”) was easy to implement.
  • Users receive fast support in their region and time zone at all times.
  • Media breaks in communication were closed.
  • The processes around the globe are identical and stringent.
  • Redundancies and additional personnel and financial expenditure are avoided.

 

 

Effie and Jeffie waving (1)

 

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