Improved End-User Experience Saves Time and Money In the Pharmaceutical Market
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), headquartered in the U.K. with operations based in the United States, is one of the leading research-based pharmaceutical companies with an estimated seven percent of the world’s pharmaceutical market. The company was formed in 2000 through a merger between Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, two organizations with histories reaching back to the early 1800s.
GSK has more than 100,000 employees worldwide and of these, more than 40,000 are in sales and marketing, the largest sales force in the industry. Around 35,000 employees work at 82 manufacturing sites in 37 countries. Every hour, GSK spends more than $560,000 on researching new medicines.
With such a large workforce culled from two sizable established organizations, GSK’s IT team found its request processing methods to be diverse and disconnected. The company’s IT departments were developing their own methods and interfaces for processing users’ requests for IT equipment and service without following a standard template or system. There was a redundancy of some processes and resources while some services and equipment weren’t even available through online requests. While the work was getting done, users were confused about where to go for service and how to make their requests, and management wanted a more organized and efficient method that would more effectively manage and utilize staff and resources.
GSK was already using Integrify’s solution as one of many components of its IT systems. The company chose to expand and enhance the implementation for this challenge because it allowed GSK to build on its existing systems rather than start over with something entirely new. For example, Integrify connected with the GSK directory, so many fields in the online request forms could be pre-populated, saving the end-users time and effort during the request process.
“We wanted to build upon our existing Integrify system to standardize and centralize,” said Neil Weitz, Director of IT Help in the Process and Service Improvement Organization End-User Advocacy Group at GSK.
To help ensure a smooth rollout of Integrify, Integrify helped GSK set up some of its key processes and provided on-going training and support to GSK employees. These employees leveraged the examples that Integrify provided when setting up over 50 business processes in their Integrify implementation that resulted in developing almost 100 request types. Integrify’s Professional Service group developed several reusable add-in functions and provided process development consulting for GSK groups that did not have the resources to set up Integrify processes themselves.
Integrify is a flexible business process management tool that allows companies to automate requests and streamline approval processes. The software provides form creation, routing definition, and tracking tools to those responsible for processing requests, minimizing data entry, and simplifying requests for approval and fulfillment. Integrify is Web-based, allowing for easy user accessibility and management of approval processes. The solution eliminates problems typically related to labor-intensive processes such as manual paper handling and email requests and can reduce costs per transaction by 60 to 90 percent as opposed to paper-based processes.
By allowing a company’s employees the most efficient means to access, submit and obtain fulfillment for requests, an organization can offer the best possible level of service to its customers. With Integrify, efficiency gains are immediate and most companies can expect a return on investment (ROI) in three months or less.
Currently, GSK uses Integrify to handle more than 600 different types of requests, and with more being added every day. The system processes almost 16,000 requests each month, a massive leap forward from the 2,000 processed in April 2004. “We wouldn’t have ever thought that was possible before Integrify,” said Weitz.
According to Weitz, “As we get service owners to use Integrify and we are developing these request types, we’re able to identify areas where we can eliminate redundancies, consolidate services and improve our process workflow. It’s likely that through process improvement initiatives we will reduce the number of request types.”
In 2006, GSK passed the one-million mark for the number of requests processed and is currently servicing users in more than 60 countries, demonstrating Integrify’s easy adaptability for many languages.
“One of the main drivers in the internationalizing of the system has been the ability to standardize processes,” said Weitz.
One of the most immediate benefits was providing a simple, universal interface to users, who were previously confused by the variety of “looks” they found when attempting to make a request online. Integrify vastly improved the user experience, which was one of the biggest problems the IT group faced prior to turning to Integrify. Employees who needed to request IT service or new equipment weren’t sure where to go or how to do it, and tracking their requests was even more difficult. In trying to find the correct web page or paper form, employees were frustrated with the confusing and time-consuming process.
“On our current existing website we now have a one-stop-shop for service requests that really simplifies the end-user experience, cutting in half the time it takes them to find what they need,” said Weitz. “It has increased our success rate dramatically by creating just one place for users to go.”
Integrify has also helped Weitz’s team handle requests more efficiently. For example, before Integrify, if a request was routed to a U.K. team and their offices were closed, the request would sit until they re-opened and could sort through accumulated requests. Now, with Integrify, the system can automatically route the request to a location where IT team members are in the office and able to address it immediately.
In addition, before Integrify, many requests had to be sent to dispatchers who would determine which IT team or approvers should be notified. Integrify enabled GSK to remove these intermediate steps and have requests routed directly to the appropriate IT team or approvers based on criteria such as the client’s location or business unit.
The time savings was significant, as with one particular request type, 90 percent of requests were filled within 13 days as of April 2005. A year later, 90 percent of such requests were fulfilled in just eight days. And recently, Weitz’s team evaluated the nine worst-performing processes in one business area and found that Integrify had provided a 79 percent reduction in request fulfillment time.
Because GSK’s departments were able to continue using existing internal processes/systems, Integrify was easily integrated. With less than 10,000 employees using the system when it was first introduced in April 2004, more than 78,000 are currently using it.
“The widespread adoption of this system went much faster than we expected,” said Weitz. “What we did was give employees an automated approval and notification process replacing the manual gathering of approvals, saving the business units time and money, and we’ve been able to make that available to many more employees in a very short amount of time.”
GSK was also able to more effectively assign staff, as eight employees were re-purposed to other areas within the company where they could be more productive rather than remaining in the unproductive, non-value-added roles they played in creating and maintaining redundant, out-of-sync systems. All of GSK’s core IT groups are now using Integrify, including the Identity Management Group, Desktop Services Group, Email Operations Group and Security Services Group, among many, many others.
Once the daily user experience had been overhauled and improved, the IT team was able to turn its attention to issues such as service management, more analytics on the back end, and other long-term issues.
“We’ve got a laundry list of things we want to look into and now we have the time to do it,” said Weitz. “Integrify allows us to move a few thousand feet above the day-to-day. The system automates the day-to-day so we can focus on improving service management.”
Some of the earliest processes that were automated with Integrify have recently proven to need further adjustment and tweaking, as business areas grow and change. Weitz has found updating the system to be methodical and intuitive. “Integrify has definitely eased our pain in this area,” he said. “It wasn’t difficult; it was very clear and programmatic to go back and fix what needed to be fixed with minimal demands on the backend.”
Prior to implementing Integrify, GSK’s IT groups were responsible for creating their own processes for handling user requests for service and equipment- some used paper forms, some had web forms. The development process each time a business unit needed to add a new request type to its system often included hiring outside web designers, computer technicians, and business consultants, and could take anywhere from a few hours to six weeks. After Integrify was up and running, the development time for this service dropped by 77 percent, and costs were cut 96 percent, as the average interface development time was cut from three weeks to four days.
In fact, said Weitz, many of the IT teams around the world were in the process of working with consulting companies and computer companies to build costly new systems. “One group had already contracted someone to write a system for $15K, while another had brought in a consulting group for $30K to design a custom solution. Then they were facing ongoing costs in maintaining these new systems,” he said. “We saved a tremendous amount of money by implementing Integrify when we did because right off the bat we could put an end to these costly projects.”
The cost of Integrify was paid for just in the re-purposing of eight employees. The rest of the savings has been an even greater benefit to GSK’s IT group.
The return on GSK’s investment continues to grow as the number of users increases. Every time an employee calls the help desk, Weitz estimates the call costs $5. Many help desk calls are service or equipment requests that are simply passed along to the IT service department. “If you’re talking about passing along 1,000 calls a month, that’s $5,000 in unnecessary calls. When we provide an online request form that’s easier than picking up the phone, we can cut those costs, as well as free up the help desk personnel for other calls.”
GSK has seen a vast improvement not just in the efficiency of its IT service groups, but in the overall satisfaction of the employees who use the system on a regular basis. Weitz believes GSK has only just begun to tap the potential of the system.
“Integrify brings the capability to bundle multiple individual service requests into a single process request,” said Weitz. “Bundling individual requests aligned with end-to-end services provides a better customer experience. Customers are interested in the end result.”
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