Field Report: GlaxoSmithKline Streamlines Form-Driven Processes - InformationWeek

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Field Report: GlaxoSmithKline Streamlines Form-Driven Processes

Drug giant speeds 50,000 requests per month using Web-based forms routing and approval software.

Whether someone wants paper for a copy machine, a conference room and lunch for four, e-mail and telecom accounts for a new employee, or a custom report out of SAP, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) handles the request through a single system that serves some 75,000 employees in 60 countries and in eight different languages. The Web-based form routing-and-approval system has helped the pharmaceutical giant shave days, and in some cases weeks, off process cycle times.

Things weren't always this standardized at GSK. Until 2005, the company had dozens of different systems for handling requests, including everything from Lotus Notes databases and Cardiff Liquid Office to custom-built Web forms. "We had a lot of small, one-off solutions on different bits of infrastructure," says Neil Weitz, director of IT Help in GSK's Process and Service Improvement organization. "We wanted something that would work across a big, multinational company with many different business units, so it had to be scalable. We also wanted something that would be simple to use."

In early 2005, GSK selected Integrify "request management software" for an initial project involving 25 to 30 IT request forms in North America. That project, which involved the basics of IT provisioning – PC, telecom, security badges and account setup -- was completed within a couple of months, and the system was soon extended to the UK and then worldwide. Applications spread beyond IT to parking and facilities requests and HR and benefit forms.

"It started out under the radar, but we quickly discovered we could replace a lot of custom applications and Web forms," says Weitz. "We now have 800 active forms, and the system handles about 50,000 requests each month."

Integrify offers both on-premise and on-demand software, but GSK hosts its implementation internally while outsourcing form development. Project costs average $200 for a simple form with basic routing and approval steps, says Weitz, but that escalates if integrations are required. In one example, GSK used the system to automate name-change requests within the telecom system, but it required an integration between Integrify and the switches. "It cost us about $2,000 for the API, but that cut out the need for somebody in telecom to make the change manually," says Weitz. "People can just go online now and make the change on their own."

Volumes run anywhere from several hundred per month (typical for custom SAP reporting requests, says Weitz) down to just a handful per month (for, say, server rebuilds or complex technical requests). A Web-accessible reporting dashboard tracks the cycle time of each forms-driven process so managers can track adherence to service-level agreements and drive process improvements.

In one of the most dramatic improvements, the system was used to automate complex, IT-to-IT requests to host new applications. The process involved lots of technical detail as well as handoffs among nine different participants. "We moved that process from 55 days down to five days," says Weitz. "It wasn’t just a matter of putting everything into a form. We redesigned the process and handled approvals concurrently so the request wasn't passed around requiring the same questions to be answered over and over again."

GSK has invested roughly $500,000 in the system, including the cost of form development. "When you think about what we've done, that's not a lot of money," says Weitz. "We really haven't had to advertise this; people are coming to us to use this system."

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