Happy IT service desk staff help keep Domtar’s diverse applications running

Frequent mergers and acquisitions has meant that Domtar has a diverse set of applications it must manage and provision, but it has managed to keep its users happy and reduced the turnover at its IT help desk.

The company has two divisions – pulp and paper, and personal care – with distributed employees across North America and Europe, 8,900 in the former and 1,000 in the latter. Michel Meunier, Domtar’s Montreal-based VP of IT, and his team are responsible for supporting all Domtar staff, although its most frequent interaction is with those located on this side of the pond. And while the company does have service level objectives in place, it does not have formal Service Level Agreements (SLAs). For example, there’s a set time frame for a user to be set up on a new laptop.

But the calls to the company’s service desk are quite positive these days, Meunier says. The staff handling those calls are happier and there is less turnover. He attributes this stability to deploying Easy Vista for its information technology service management (ITSM) requirements, as staff are better equipped.

Where does the help desk turn for help?

Five years ago, things at the company’s IT help desk weren’t going as smoothly, he says. The concept of creating a service ticket was an issue.

“People weren’t phoning to get a ticket. They wanted resolution immediately,” Meunier says.

Domtar merged with Weyerhauser in 2007, and both companies had experience with outsourcing part of their IT support: Domtar with its infrastructure, and Weyerhauser with its service desk. “Both experiences were poor experiences,” Meunier says.

The company has grown globally in large part due to acquisitions – five businesses in between 2011 and 2015, as well as the creation of the Personal Care division. Meunier says it was clear it needed a new ITSM platform when it was time to upgrade it the current one that had been heavily customized.

“There wasn’t a clear upgrade path,” he says.

Domtar ultimately went live with EasyVista in 2012 after an exhaustive RFP answered by 13 vendors that wasn’t just about getting procuring a new ITSM tool, but transforming processes too. Meunier says EasyVista has been a good partner in that regard. Typical activity for staff is setting up new user accounts, terminating old ones, password resets and provisioning devices, he says. Forms through SharePoint are available to get processes started, but for the most part, EasyVista acts as Domtar’s “ERP of IT.”

Looking at improving the processes of new IT deployment has become a best practice for most organizations, but one increasingly popular approach to support users is one that Domtar is not embracing: treating its users like customers when they call in for help.

“Our approach is that all employees are working together for the benefit of the business,” Meunier says.

Since paper is its core product, Domtar for all intents and purpose is a manufacturing company, says Meunier, and it has a diversity of applications that is higher than average, thanks in part to its history of mergers and acquisitions. Creating an account means accessing multiple applications, he says. “It adds complexity to the process.”

Kevin Coppins, EasyVista’s GM for North America, says Domtar is atypical in size for the upper mid-market customers the company targets. It has distributed users with enterprise-grade requirements, but is resource-constrained in terms of support. It also not unusual for EasyVista to encounter enterprises that have a lot of legacy applications. Healthcare organizations have applications that are 30 years old, for example.

“The legacy applications aren’t going away. Nor do they have to,” Coppins says. The focus should be on the role those apps play, he adds.

Easy Vista inhabits unique space in the market

According to Gartner, there are 500 ITSM suites on the market today, but only about 10, including EasyVista, are what Coppins calls full suites, and half of them are from the big, traditional IT vendors, such as CA and BMC. He describes EasyVista as a “pure play” in the space as others are looking to broaden even further.

Coppins says IT departments are under increasing pressure to be the leader in digital transformation. “They don’t know where to start,” he says. EasyVista is helping by addressing obvious pain points, including little things that have a huge impact on the culture of an IT helpdesk.

When Domtar implemented EasyVista about three years ago, the main focus for organizations implementing ITSM tools was on total cost of ownership. “People are now more focused on the mobile side,” Coppins says, noting that Domtar is just beginning to look at more of the mobile aspects.

However, mobile isn’t just about devices, he says, it’s more of a mindset that reflects the consumerization of IT as more people in the workforce realize and understand how they can do their jobs better with hardware and software and not have to do it in one particular place.

“We feel the world that is end-user driven,” he says. “We believe ITSM is the onramp to becoming the digital workplace.”

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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