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Case Study: Marval Africa revitalizes UCS Solutions IT Service Management

About UCS
UCS Solutions has a longstanding history in the retail space, having developed South Africa’s first country-wide MPLS network (now part of the Internet Solutions network) which connected retailers such as Massmart and CNA into the Affinity Logic IT platform. Affinity Logic was strategically purchased by the UCS Group in 2003, becoming UCS Solutions, and has continued to grow from strength to strength.

Since then, UCS Solutions has gone on to establish itself as the market leader in private cloud solutions for retail, and the SAP Retail and JDA application spaces, offering a host of value added services such as retail process consulting.

With a national footprint, as well as an international presence located in retail capital, Dubai, UCS Solutions is the leading retail Information Technology solution provider in South Africa.

UCS Solutions is now owned by Business Connexion (BCX) and will be fully integrated by the 1st of April 2018. In addition, UCS Solutions has a strong eco system of partners and customers, both within the retail vertical and other industries.

As an ISO20000 certified organisation, UCS Solutions is always looking to improve on their IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities, to reach new levels of ITSM maturity. UCS Solutions’ ITSM software was not ISO20000 compliant and did not fully align with Information Technology and Infrastructure Management (ITIL) frameworks, thus impeding their ITSM maturity and creating a number of pain points.

UCS Solutions released a closed tender in the first quarter of 2017, with the aim of identifying a software partner who could help them achieve ITSM maturity by addressing their pain points, while having a firm ITIL background and ISO20000 certification. Out of 5 respondents, UCS Solutions awarded the project to Marval Africa.

Addressing the need
Says Frans Sauer, Manager for Information Systems at UCS Solutions, “Our aim was to increase our business value, and improve our overall customer service and experience through an ISO20000 compliant, ITIL aligned ITSM software platform.”

UCS Solutions wanted a single view ITSM solution that would service their twenty one customers and their customers’ one hundred and ninety seven partners. With an average of sixty thousand plus interactions funneling through their command centre on a monthly basis, the system needed to be fast, efficient and effective.

“We were previously using a Customer Relationship Management software platform to manage our customer contact centre however, the solution was not suitable for a full ITSM environment. We required a solution that would integrate with our Customer Management Database, automate change and incident management, and that aligned with the ITIL framework. Marval’s solution ticked all these boxes, as well as addressing additional pain points.”

Marval’s solution was selected based on it’s overall value proposition, total cost of ownership, ability to address all pain points and mature UCS Solutions’ ITSM, and internal feedback obtained from both sessions at which all respondents had to present.

ITIL backed solution takes ITSM forward
“From the time when we awarded the project to Marval, they displayed an unparalleled commitment and partner interaction. Although the project rollout was complex, Marval Africa’s professionalism and methodology was apparent throughout, and we now have a solution which not only resolves all the issues we had, but also offers additional value and functionality,” says Sauer.

UCS Solutions’ ITSM system services more than ten thousand users in real-time, with over six hundred and fifty assignees, and over one hundred and fifty external assignee teams. It currently integrates with four other Helpdesk systems, and there is provision for this to grow.

Marval’s ITIL based solution offers UCS Solutions the ability to easily manage and track their customer interactions and service from a single platform, while also providing users with a self-service capability. Immediate response end-user satisfaction surveys are offered, as well as the capability to do spontaneous broadcast surveys, as required.

“The system is easy to use and the toolset allows our customers and partners to obtain immediate feedback on all queries at any time, without needing to wait for a response from the Servicedesk. Access was a critical requirement for us and, as the system is internet facing, users can access the system from anywhere without need for a VPN,” says Karel de Beer, Managing Executive at UCS Solutions.

Marval’s solution has also streamlined UCS Solutions’ ISO audit process, and at least eighty percent of UCS Solutions’ audit information is readily and easily available.. According to Sauer, an audit process that used to take several weeks and valuable resources, now takes a few days to complete, saving time and manpower.

“Our ITSM system has matured through integration, digitalisation and real-time capability. As the Marval solution is entrenched in ITIL processes, continual improvement is a given and we expect to see the system taking us well into the future, making our customer service and experience a value proposition to the market,” adds Sauer.

Highlights and challenges
The project took roughly 6 months to complete and, due to the number of users that needed to be migrated from the previous system to the new system, was incredibly complex.

“Converting the environment, classifying and aligning the vast quantity of pre-existing data with the newly defined services for easy reporting, and changing user behaviour were particularly challenging aspects of this project,” says Edward Carbutt, Executive Director of Marval Africa. “The entire way in which user requests were managed and classified was changed. The various stakeholders and users had to be introduced to and trained up in using the new system, a process which took some time despite the new system’s ease of use.”
UCS Solutions opted for a “big bang” rather than a phased approach, meaning that all data and customers were converted over to the new system at once. The project and change management was tackled by UCS Solutions and Marval teams simultaneously, resulting in a relatively quick, collectively approached project.

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Says Sauer, “Marval delivered one hundred percent in terms of support, effort, partnership and commitment. The Marval team went beyond the call of duty in assisting us with the change management, leveraging well thought out ITIL processes to smooth this process. Together, Marval and our own team displayed a respectable level of engagement and interaction, and the people, process and technology integration were inspiring”

Says Claude Naidoo, Executive at UCS Solutions, “Our new ITSM tool subscribes to our ITIL strategy and makes life so much easier, for us and our partners and customers. A mature ITSM system and process enables us to follow through with our strategy and carry our business forward.”

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