Vendor choice no accident for Europe's top vehicle tester
Each year Stuttgart-based DEKRA Automobil GmbH (www.dekra.com) tests around 18 million cars, lorries and motorcycles for safety and legal compliance, compiles more than 800,000 damage and accident analysis reports, and carries out 100,000 vehicle appraisals. Half the tests are carried out in Germany but it has operations in 17 other countries in Europe as well.
It simulates accidents of all kinds at its own computer-assisted crash centre in Neumuenster in Schleswig-Holstein and is building a research and technology centre on a racetrack complex near the Berlin to Dresden motorway where 120,000 spectators will be able to see cars and motorcycles hurtling round at up to 380 kilometers (237 miles) an hour.
The organization's services can literally mean the difference between life and death so its computer systems must be the best - which is why it chose Axios' assyst Help Desk and IT Service Management product.
DEKRA, which helped propel Michael Schumacher to his first World Formula One Drivers' Championships, put Axios in pole position after extensive comparisons with other providers, notably Remedy and Tivoli Service Desk.
Problem Manager Uwe Antlauf explained: "We wanted to implement a network management system as part of a major IT restructure project called REDIS, a sub-section of which was Help Desk and Problem Management. We were keen to build up our Incident, Problem, Change and Configuration Management capabilities so we needed a reliable all-round tool. "
REDIS conforms to the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) so it was crucial for DEKRA that the system it selected was ITIL®-compliant.
The organization had used Remedy for four years for its IT Help Desk, with Tivoli as a complementary monitoring and alerting tool.
"At first we thought of introducing Tivoli's Change and Configuration processes and linking them to Remedy's Help Desk tool to access the data but Tivoli was too expensive," Mr Antlauf continued. "Coincidentally, Axios had shown us assyst which had Configuration and Change as standard modules. We then compared its product with Remedy and assyst simply came out better - in terms of meeting our business needs and the fact that its tools came as standard."
DEKRA, which began sponsoring the then unknown Michael Schumacher in 1990 and had revenues of more than 1.7 billion Marks (918 million Euros or around £630 million) in 2000, compared Axios with Remedy's standard and customized products against criteria of:
Up front cost
Follow up cost
It concluded that Remedy's standard applications were too expensive, its range of functions unacceptable and its applications difficult to use in certain areas.
A customized Remedy solution was rejected because it was too dear in relation to the range of functions provided, the critical project running time was too long and there was a high follow-up cost.
assyst was found to provide a complete range of functions from Day One at reasonable cost and was easier to use than its competitors, with a relatively low follow-up cost. It provided an integrated approach for Incident, Problem, Configuration, Change and Service Level Management in a single interface model.
"We had problems with Remedy because the administrator needed to programme the software and it can be very difficult to find someone qualified to do this," Mr Antlauf said. "Such experts can also leave you in difficulty if they move on to another role or a different organization. With Remedy you need to have the programmer and the know-how in-house. With assyst, even if the administrator changes, he or she only needs a couple of weeks' training to understand the product.
"The cost of maintaining the Remedy system was too great. Even small changes could be expensive. assyst is a lot simpler to operate because we only need one or two administrators who use standard tools. "
DEKRA preferred to buy directly from an organization like Axios which creates and maintains its own software rather than from other suppliers which provide products or services through third parties.
In addition to its head office in Stuttgart, DEKRA's IT Help Desk serves more than 200 locations with desktop servers and 6,000 staff including 3,500 engineers with mobile terminals working from tens of thousands of workshops. Test reports are compiled for customers on the spot on powerful notebooks and sent directly to Stuttgart for archiving.
Damage and accident analysis reports - particularly useful for insurance companies - are available on the Internet to everyone involved in relevant claims. In addition to workshops, the DEKRA Claims Network (www.dsn.dekra.de) is used by insurance companies, lease car companies, fleet managers and lawyers.
First level support is outsourced to a subsidiary of IBM in Erfurt which is contractually bound to solve 80% of problems within 15 minutes. Calls which cannot be solved in that timeframe are referred via the IT Service Management system to second level support specialists in Stuttgart. To improve skills levels and service co-ordination, staff have job-swaps with Erfurt as well as monthly meetings with the first level 'Hotline' team.
Problems can include data not being sent or received, slow network access, inability to get onto the company's Intranet or a printer not working. DEKRA works with almost every well known software program as well as its own in-house products.
"A PC fault may not be crucial because each location has several PCs and a next day fix is adequate," Mr Antlauf said. "But in the worst case, if a location cannot operate because of IT problems, that costs us a lot of money - thousands of Euros a day. There's a limit to the work we can do with mobile equipment. "
What were his initial views on assyst and Axios? "I'm particularly impressed by the links between Problem, Incident, Change and Configuration Management," he answered. "Its location and product structures are a lot simpler than Remedy to understand and work with.
That makes it easier to identify and assess trends. assyst has very clear structures which cannot be altered easily but I regard that as another plus. The benefits certainly outweigh the disadvantages. "
He concluded: "We are setting out on the road of what we hope will be a long and happy relationship with Axios and looking at some of its other products which might be suitable for us. Axios is very customer-driven - that's an important principle because its products adapt to customers' needs. I believe that things begin and end with the customer. That seems to be Axios' view too. We feel we're in safe hands."
Axios Systems is a leading provider of Best Practice-based IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions. Our customer-centric approach combined with our award-winning solutions, ensure customers worldwide can align their Service and Support organizations with the overall business goals. Our core solution, assyst, intuitively steers users through the ITIL® processes. Axios Global Services provides a range of consulting, project management and training services. Our commitment to Best Practice is demonstrated through being the first to achieve BS 15000 certification which has now become, ISO/IEC 20000, the International standard for ITSM. Axios is headquartered in the UK, with offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.