The Dutch Railway (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) sets itself the objective to transport passengers safely, on time and comfortably, from one attractive station to another.
Managing 371 stations in the Netherlands, the Dutch Railway is the largest passenger transport organisation operating on Dutch rail tracks and strives to run on schedule, provide information and service, contribute to social security, make sufficient transport capacity available and making sure trains and stations are clean.
An elaborate infrastructure – both logistical and technology – is vital to keep the railway running efficiently. The Dutch Railway uses Epicor IT Service Management (ITSM) to provide incident management for its technology infrastructure to ensure that systems are running effectively.
The railway’s Production Services unit, one of several central services that support the Dutch Railway, is responsible for information systems and communication resources and manages fifty applications and technology resources that are used to support both national and international operations. For instance, the field staff (ticket collectors and engine drivers) use a handheld Pocket PC and mobile phone running various software applications.
Previously each manager was responsible for his or her own application which resulted in diversity in how solutions were managed and maintained. “A few years ago, the department found that the different applications were not managed in a uniform way,” comments Evelien van der Vliet, Service Desk Quartermaster at Product Services for the Dutch Railway. “When we gradually started to implement Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) processes, we discovered that it was unclear to employees whom they should contact for their problems or queries. We came to the conclusion that we had to set up a service desk to improve incident management.”
The Dutch Railway’s Finance Desk was already using Epicor ITSM, while the others used various other help desk management systems. “Various people in our department were acquainted with Epicor ITSM and were advocating setting up the Service Desk for Production Services with this particular application. Its open nature and accessibility, combined with its ease-of-use were instrumental in our selecting Epicor ITSM,” said Van der Vliet enthuses.
Launching the unified Service Desk
A pilot phase was initiated for the Service Desk set-up that included four applications and an average staff of 2.5 full time employees to manage. One of the applications was the duty-scheduling application DiSys, a mission-critical and large application used by all employees to register hours and create timetables.
According to Van der Vliet, “The scheduling of these shifts using DiSys involves a complicated process, because you have to take into account (irregular) employee shifts, such as early, late and night shifts, which also have to meet legal requirements.
Any incidents related to this application must be handled as quickly as possible. Every Thursday, the schedules for the coming week are issued, so if this application crashes, this will have major consequences. After all, quite a number of people are needed to get a train running on time.”
The Service Desk staff handles all support services related to DiSys through Epicor ITSM. In addition to managing response to helpdesk calls and applications issues, Epicor ITSM enables the Service Desk to report on issue activity to pinpoint trouble areas. When fully implemented, the Service Desk will provide support for all applications using Epicor ITSM.
“Epicor ITSM offers an incredible amount of reporting features. The trick is, of course, to configure this functionality in such a way that you can retrieve the right data from the system so that you can take action wherever necessary. The configuration is really important, because after all, you must be able to evaluate whether you have set up the internal process in the right way,” comments Van der Vliet. The Dutch Railway worked with Epicor partner Mproof to tailor the reporting tools to meet its specific needs.