IT risk reduction is standard policy for German insurance specialist
Its parent company is the ARAG Group, a legal insurance specialist with worldwide annual premium and turnover volume of more than €1.3 billion. So it is determined to cut risks in its own IT systems as well as for its customers.
Formed in January 2001 from the merger of ARAG`s different subsidiaries, ALLDATA, an innovative IT Services Provider, offers customers a comprehensive set of solutions ranging from product development through to project management, enterprise management consultancy, outsourcing and quality assurance.
The company has offices in Duesseldorf, Munich, Stuttgart and Neukirchen/Vluyn. It employs some 570 staff and turnover for 2002 was around €93 million.
With 200 customers, its core strengths lie in information management for insurance, banks and financial service providers - sectors which can be particularly sensitive.
The foundation of ALLDATA's commercial business is the experience which it has built up - in close co-operation with its customers - in consultancy and software development. One of its slogans reads: 'We offer more than 30 years know-how and the enthusiasm of the first hour.'
ALLDATA is the IT 'heart' of ARAG. Other insurance clients include Gothaer Konzern, Provinzial, Deutscher Ring, HanseMerkur, Skandia, Winterthur, and WestLB Systems. Enterprise Management clients include Daimler Chrysler Aerospace, Bosch, Bayer AG, Wella AG and Deutz. Among its technical clients are Toshiba, Marks & Spencer, Ericsson, Coca Cola, Invensys and Thyssengas.
ALLDATA's IT Help Desks, based in Duesseldorf and Munich, rely on Axios Systems' assyst Help Desk and IT Service Management (ITSM) software solution. Both Help Desks handle up to 3,000 calls a month, 90% of which come from ARAG. They access a single database with a firewall-protected Internet connection.
Supporting these customers is assyst interfaced with an IBM-Tivoli software product for monitoring system errors. IBM-Tivoli and Axios Systems sell and market their products jointly in the Netherlands, offering a single IT Service Management (ITSM) solution encompassing IBM-Tivoli's systems management products with assyst.
Before installing assyst, ALLDATA SYSTEMS used an in-house ITSM tool "which no longer met our needs," according to Project Leader Dr Klaus Kilberth.
"As a forward-looking business we recognized trends in the IT market early on and acted accordingly. We like to think that assyst is helping us uphold this reputation," Dr Kilberth added.
Initially, ALLDATA SYSTEMS had agreed to buy Tivoli Service Desk but the company was taken over by Peregrine Systems. Support for the product was no longer assured and the new owner wanted the firm to upgrade to its own product at considerable cost.
"We felt that Axios would pay more attention to us. We believed Peregrine would not offer such good customer services," Dr Kilberth commented. "We invited several suppliers and asked them various technical questions about how they would develop the system. We wanted a tool which suited both the Munich and Duesseldorf offices."
"assyst was also more flexible and cost-effective. Implementation costs for new releases in Peregrine would have been too high."
Axios also agreed to introduce a new facility for ALLDATA - Customer Service Groups (CSGs), effectively splitting the database views so users only see information relevant to them. In keeping with its practice of taking clients' requirements on board and constantly enhancing its products, Axios made this facility available to all users. The refinement is also in line with increasing database protection requirements.
Incident, Problem, Configuration and Asset Management have been rolled out so far throughout ALLDATA, with further enhancements planned to make the most of the product's potential.
"assyst is particularly beneficial for first level staff," added Support Manager Karl Wimmer who is in charge of the service. "Help Desk staff have a target to fix 50% of calls at the first level but this figure is already more than 60%."
Within ARAG, which accounts for the bulk of ALLDATA SYSTEMS' work, links can be established immediately between the reported problem and the hardware concerned as all assets are listed on the Configuration Database.
What are the main business benefits which the company has gained from investment in its ITSM solution?
Dr Kilberth summed it up as follows: "assyst reduces the time taken to resolve problems and significantly increases the amount of information about problems so our staff and customers are better informed about what's happening. Every customer who logs a call knows he will get prompt assistance from the Help Desk."
"We have the foundation for a series of measures which can improve our service. It is a platform for more potential."
ALLDATA also finds assyst useful for allocating costs to different departments within ARAG. "We can quantify the calls and allocate costs to the appropriate part of the organization, ensuring that charging is commensurate with the work carried out," Dr Kilberth said.
"The decision to purchase assyst was correct," Wimmer added. "We could have been 'saddled' with Peregrine. assyst is capable of improving our business. I'm impressed with the product and its potential. assyst is a very intuitive and functionality rich product - it has to be to achieve its standard of a fully integrated ITSM solution. Therefore the right amount and level of resources, in particular manpower, must be allocated to such a project. Axios made a real effort to push this point from the beginning to ensure the project would be a success."
"Yes, we would buy assyst again," Dr Kilberth concluded. "We have not been disappointed with it."
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.