Case Study Mainova
IT SERVICE MANAGEMENT PROCESSES AT MAINOVA
The importance of IT is also increasing in the energy industry. Processes are subject to sustainable and far-reaching changes, and are increasingly being digitized and automated. The change ranges from smart metering systems to next-generation meters. All of this places high demands on IT, including at Mainova AG from Frankfurt on the Main.
The largest energy supplier in the Rhine-Main region employs around 2,700 people and supplies people in large parts of Hesse and neighboring federal states with electricity, natural gas, heat and drinking water. As a service provider with strong regional roots, Mainova focuses on forward-looking concepts and the resource-conserving use of energy. In addition to classic supply infrastructures, the portfolio also includes products and services related to renewable energies, e-mobility, car sharing, energy efficiency and digital infrastructures.
The company’s IT provides a wide range of services that benefit more than 3,000 users every day. Mainova therefore attaches particular importance to efficient, reliable and transparent IT processes. To achieve this, the company decided in 2016 to automate IT service processes as part of a new IT strategy. The main aim was to reduce the workload of employees by automating processes – the goal was to free the IT staff from manual and repetitive tasks and thus provide IT services quickly and with consistently high quality.
Industry: Energy supply
Foundation: 1998 (public utility + Maingas AG)
Headquarters: Frankfurt on the Main
Size: approx. 2,700 employees
Customer since: 2018
Ready-made workflows convinced
The Mainova IT plays a key role in helping the company to achieve its business goals and at the same time meet efficiency requirements through digitization. To do this, it must provide infrastructure services reliably, securely and cost-effectively. To ensure this, automation was essential.
Christina Koch is Head of Service Strategy & Design at Mainova. She explains: “The reasons for automating these services were obvious to us. Firstly, tasks carried out manually always carry an increased risk of error. Secondly, manual tasks take an unnecessarily long time and can thus place an additional financial burden on the company. And thirdly, these tasks are not very demanding for our employees and thus hardly contribute to their satisfaction.”)
The choice for the appropriate solution fell on the automation platform of the Potsdam software manufacturer FLOWSTER Solutions. The reason for this was primarily the extensive library of workflow modules, so-called activities, that the tool brings with it. “We liked the fact that many predefined workflows were already included and that we didn’t have to reinvent, define and program everything”, says Koch.
Reaching the goal with joint energy
At the beginning of the project in the fall of 2016, mainly “simple” processes were to be automated. For this purpose, the company identified an initial set of IT processes that were to be mapped into workflows by FLOWSTER Solutions. In a joint workshop with the manufacturer and the technical managers at Mainova, the following topics, among others, were identified and specified:
• Creation, modification and removal of computers in or from SCCM*
• Assigning, changing and removing permissions in Citrix
• Changing Active Directory permissions
• Setting and removing primary devices
• Creating CSV files
Mainova AG was already using an ITSM solution, but not all processes could be automated as desired. The energy supplier therefore decided to pause the project and evaluate another ITSM tool. After careful evaluation, Mainova opted for the USU Valuemation suite (now USU ITSM). This replaced the previous software and has since been used to control and coordinate internal and external processes. In the course of automation, Valuemation was expanded to include the functionalities of the FLOWSTER Studio platform. This allowed the project to be continued in 2018 and implementation to begin.
In cooperation with USU and FLOWSTER Solutions, the automated processes for hardware and software orders, the administration of roles and rights as well as the creation of persons were created. The orders are triggered via a Valuemation service request (web store) and automatically provided via FLOWSTER workflows. Both manufacturers jointly developed a generic solution for this purpose.
* Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT
SERVICE STRATEGY & DESIGN
“With the help of FLOWSTER, the user quickly gets what he orders. This means that the processes are documented in a traceable and verifiable manner.”
Acceptance through good experience
For Mainova, the topic of “automation” was a constant change process to which the employees were open. As a result, the departments involved were able to convince themselves of the benefits of automated software assignment step by step over the course of the project. The biggest challenge here was not so much the automation software itself, but rather the internal cooperation and communication. In the meantime, the employees responsible for software distribution are very satisfied with the automated processes.
“The initial reservations have largely dissipated, as colleagues have noticed that they now have more time to devote to more important tasks,” adds Koch. Based on continuously positive experiences, the results and benefits spoke and still speak for themselves. “After the introduction of automation, just as many people are on board as before, but they have more capacity for other work”, says the head of the department.
Unobtrusive, but effective
At Mainova, automation runs hidden in the background. The corresponding software is connected to the web store via interfaces. Around 2,000 employees access the interface or portal and have already triggered almost 89,000 orders since January 2019. Of these, over 30,000 calls alone are for software allocation, which was previously carried out manually in SCCM.
Orders via the store are continuously increasing at Mainova. For the energy supplier, this means a significant increase in the quality of its processes. Before the introduction of automation, software was ordered, checked and installed on demand. This method of working often took an unnecessarily long time, was sometimes time-consuming and could be prone to errors.
“In the event of a computer replacement in case of an incident, we can now automatically reassign all software packages directly to the replaced hardware”, explains Koch.
Delivered as ordered
For Mainova, the automated software assignment not only relieved the company of routine tasks, but also saved a considerable amount of time. The cost factor played a subordinate role for the company – more relevant, however, was the significant reduction in error-proneness.
Christina Koch explains this with an example from the past: “I spoke with a colleague who had set up a test device and manually assigned the corresponding software packages. However, a subsequent phone call with the user revealed that two packages of these were not needed at all and one was completely wrong.”
With ordering via a user interface and automated assignment, these processes have improved significantly. “The user gets what he orders quickly. This means that the processes are traceable and verifiably documented” – the clearest advantages for Ms. Koch.
Automation is being expanded
Mainova is very satisfied with the automated processes. Christina Koch sees many more use cases for the FLOWSTER Solutions software in the future. In the future, more workflows will be used and a large number of processes will be automated. For this, the company will still need time and support from the manufacturer.
“We definitely want to expand the use. We already have a list of requirements for what we want to automate – and this will certainly grow over time. So there is enough demand”, says Koch.
At the moment, Mainova is developing a major emergency management program for automated restart plans. In this context, it is being jointly evaluated to what extent FLOWSTER Solutions can support the energy supplier with its experience from similar projects. This is a long-term project for critical systems.