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Wellcome Trust: Driving customer service and cost benefits from the Cloud

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18th Aug 2011
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UK charity Wellcome Trust explains how its Cloud initiative has improved its customer service, while stripping £1.4m from IT costs over the last two years.

Running its business in the Cloud has become a way of life for Britain’s biggest charity, Wellcome Trust, which is behind treatments to help malaria sufferers and premature babies, as well as many other life-saving medical and scientific research breakthroughs. So, when its IT department embarked on a transformational change programme to align itself with ITIL v3 service management processes, opting for a Cloud-based solution was just business as usual.

Mark Bramwell, head of IT for the Wellcome Trust, explains: “I believe Cloud is just the latest buzzword and marketing pitch for what is an existing and already mature technology. Cloud and hosted solutions form part of the IT strategy and its technical direction of travel, so we are actively and constantly assessing the best and most cost effective way to deliver solutions and services that best meet the Trust's needs.”

The primary goal of this initiative was to improve its customer service and service delivery, while cutting costs. To achieve those aims it needed a solution that was not only cost effective, but also flexible, fast to deploy and able to improve disaster recovery and promote remote access and working. ServiceNow SaaS for IT helped Wellcome Trust by automating the IT processes that had been redesigned along ITIL v3 lines. As a Cloud-based service, ServiceNow also enabled the company reduce its IT infrastructure footprint.

It was very easy to get IT buy-in for this project, not only because cloud was already an accepted and proven approach in Wellcome Trust, but also because of Cloud’s ability to easily provide remote working. The case for business customers also stacked up.

Bramwell points out: “Business buy-in was similarly easy, as my business customers are less concerned about where systems are hosted and maintained and more focused about them begin functionally what they need.”

As a seasoned Cloud user, Bramwell is keen to stress that outsourcing to the Cloud does not mean a company should sidestep responsibility for those services; the same duty of care applies whether those services are run in-house or externally.

Bramwell explains: “Although externally/Cloud hosted, you must retain strong business ownership and management of the solution and solution partner. Cloud services do not mean outsourcing business ownership and responsibility for its implementation, performance, resilience, availability, exploitation and future technology roadmap. Service management is key.”
 

Service level improvements

With ServiceNow firmly embedded, Wellcome Trust has made service levels improvements and financial gains. Greater access to information about its service desk, including the number of incident levels, trend analysis and the number of successful fixes, means the Trust is better able to provide its customers with a faster, better service without busting the budget.

There have been other unexpected benefits and changes to how the IT function is run. Since the initial implementation, the Trust has set up Change Advisory Boards (CAB), comprised of internal IT and external supplier stakeholders, whose job is to proactively manage and communicate IT changes. It has also set up a configuration management database (CMDB) to provide visibility and a better understanding of the enterprise architecture. IT account managers, located within the business, act as single points of contact for all customer service, development and incident communication activities. Finally, a Continuous Improvement Team (CIT) has been established to spot further opportunities to improve IT services

According to Bramwell: “It has made my team more effective and efficient and in tandem with the IT Strategy, IT organisational review and realisation of operational efficiencies helped to realise £1.4m of tangible operational cost savings over the past two years, whilst significantly improving our service proposition.”

Importantly, the charitable foundation has been able to redirect these savings back into its research programme.

Alongside ServiceNow, the Trust also uses Cloud services from Amazon Elastic for Video hosting and streaming, WebSense and BlackSpider for web filtering and spam management, VideoCall for video conferencing and WellSpring for intellectual property and contract management.

Building on the success of these projects, the Trust already has its eye on expanding its Cloud use over the next few year to include Office365 and will extend its ServiceNow deployment to the internal Web, grants management and library team, doubling users from 50 to 100.

For Wellcome Trust, the Cloud is not the answer to all IT requirements, but it always worth considering.

Bramwell says: “It’s our directional strategy for IT. We’re not beholden to it, but will always look at it. “
 

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