Wesleyan University‘s IT department had adopted solutions from BDNA partner ServiceNow to digitize its hardware and software procurement process and build out an internal catalog of approved assets in order to make the IT ordering process easier for the 1,000 faculty and staff on campus.
However, when the process was put into place, the task of building out the internal catalog became bogged down by the need to manually obtain and record each asset’s specific model details, to ensure it was properly captured in the catalog.
In many cases, an IT technician had to turn to online search engines to find these details, wading through dozens of nearly identical products before finding the correct one. The process could have taken as long as an hour to locate the information for a single asset.
Even as relatively small as the campus’s IT system is, Karen Warren, Wesleyan’s director of user and technical services, quickly realized it would be difficult to stay caught up with this process.
“There was a lot of repetitive, manual labor involved in looking up the details of the new device, finding the correct model number, and recording all of the relevant information in a uniform format,” Warren said. “It sounds trivial, but the process required a significant investment of our time, and diverted my group away from accomplishing more critical priorities.”
It was time to find a better way.
When attending ServiceNow’s annual Knowledge conference in April 2014, Warren was introduced to BDNA and its Normalize software solution, which she learned could potentially address their hardware catalog challenges.
BDNA Normalize aggregates and normalizes raw data from more than 40 different data sources to create a single version of accurate and relevant information. This data can serve as the foundation for a wide variety of initiatives, including vendor contract management, license management, IT finance management and vendor audits.
Normalize works in conjunction with BDNA Technopedia, the world’s largest and up-to-date catalog of enterprise hardware and software data.
After digging a bit deeper, Warren realized that not only would Normalize automate and input each hardware product’s correct data, but it could be applied to the campus’ software as well – assets that contain far more data than hardware.
“We realized BDNA would solve several of these pressing challenges for us and automate the process going forward,” she said.
When finalizing the decision to purchase Normalize, Warren took into account not only the cost of the time lost attempting to fix the problem manually, but also the intangible impacts the pain point was having on her department.
BDNA worked closely with Wesleyan to understand the issues the school needed to address and how some of its unique characteristics had to be incorporated in the ultimate solution.
After seeing a number of demonstrations that successfully applied Normalize to Wesleyan’s own data, the university decided to implement the solution.
Wesleyan’s BDNA Normalize solution has been up and running and integrated into its ServiceNow workflow since April 2015.
The IT department found the ServiceNow integration tool to be extremely effective. Whereas the process to input a new hardware model to the service catalog asset once took an hour, it now can be completed in less than 10 minutes.
In addition to that quantifiable cost savings, Normalize has contributed the unquantifiable benefit of guaranteed data accuracy. Model numbers are not accidentally inputted incorrectly and Warren and her team can now scan and inventory their hardware and software in a standardized format, and present that information in a much more timely and accurate way than had ever been possible before implementing Normalize.
After seeing the results, Warren compares the implementation of Normalize to something as fundamental as electricity: when functioning properly it blends almost invisibly in the background to enable other processes; but any failure would be immediately noticed.
“For me that’s exactly what I need the product to do,” Warren said. “I shouldn’t be interfacing with it on a regular basis. If I had to interface with it frequently, we might as well have gone back to our original process of having a staff person input the data, because we would be losing that time anyway.”
The department is also able to use Normalize to run reports in under two minutes, reports that formerly took 45 minutes to compile from various data sources, an outmoded process Warren likened to putting together a puzzle.
“We’ve always had a lot of different IT tools, but more and more we’re trying to simplify and move toward containing all of our data sources within ServiceNow,” Warren said. “I would say that BDNA is part of the engine that drives that ability.”
As President of BDNA, Walker White creates a better way for enterprises to extract value from their existing IT data.