ISS delivers spectacular service at scale with Atlassian

As ISS quadrupled in size over the last 30 years, many new hires brought their favorite tools with them, resulting in a growing set of disconnected technologies and operational roadblocks.

With the help of technical consultant and Atlassian Solution Partner Aety, ISS discovered the answer to these questions: IT service management supported by the Atlassian platform. By standardizing onto Atlassian and embracing the latest ITSM practices for request, incident, and change management, ISS now has a single source of truth for IT service management for all employees, vendors, and customers around the world, which has helped solve their most pressing challenges today, while paving the way to continue scaling in the future.

For over 100 years, ISS has helped thousands of organizations across the globe keep their facilities clean, safe, and productive. What started as a small Danish security company has evolved into a worldwide leader in comprehensive facility solutions, with almost half a million employees serving over 60,000 customers.

“One of the large benefits of having ITSM and Development on the same platform is that we can communicate seamlessly without having to spend time developing tedious integrations that need to be maintained when statuses are changed in different systems.”

Kristian Thomsen, Partner at Aety

Over the years, ISS has earned a reputation for outstanding service that’s consistent from Copenhagen to Kuala Lumpur, Australia to Argentina, and everywhere in between. But as the company expanded its teams and toolsets over the last two decades in particular, it became more difficult to collaborate across departments, stay aligned, and deliver on their promises. The platforms and practices that ISS had adopted over the last 20 years would need to evolve to continue scaling for the next 20 and beyond.

After turning to Aety for guidance, ISS centralized onto Jira Service Management as a unified, global system to support the team’s collaboration, documentation, and service request management. Since implementing Jira Service Management along with Confluence, Jira Software, and Bitbucket, the firm has seen noticeable improvements in efficiency, teamwork, and visibility across global teams and vendors, not to mention performance. These technological and process transformations have helped ISS make substantial progress toward achieving their purpose of “connecting people and places to make the world work better” – both inside and out.

A partnership paves the way for progress

When ISS was preparing to upgrade one of their legacy facility management software systems, the opportunity arose to modernize their IT processes and tools too.

Facing a huge undertaking, ISS analyzed several potential solutions, finding that “products from Atlassian were competitively priced and offered a rich ecosystem that couldn’t be matched elsewhere,” says Marie Bjørke, Head of IT Service Management. Next, they reached out to Aety for help with implementation. The Atlassian suite’s customizability, easy setup, high availability, and integrations across the product life cycle would all support ISS’s process improvements, centralize collaboration for over 400,000 employees and vendors, and create solid infrastructure for future growth.

With Aety by their side, ISS went all in on Atlassian and implemented Jira Software, Jira Service Management, Bitbucket, Bamboo, and Confluence. The company was especially excited about Aety’s flexible approach, which would enable their team to start small and gradually expand.

ISS and Aety began with a small proof of concept for an IT service desk, with one workflow for service management and one for change management. Marie says this approach made it easier to test a solution, see its impact, and identify potential improvements before going further: “Instead of analyzing for months and months and then trying to implement a huge package, we started small and got going. Then people began seeing the value and requesting assistance from us, rather than us pushing it.”

Streamlining IT for speed and simplicity

After seeing encouraging results from their proof of concept, ISS and Aety began expanding Atlassian to address other technology and process pain points. First up: simplifying IT business management and IT service management.

In an effort to maximize their limited development time and to contain costs, ISS and Aety implemented Jira Software and Jira Service Management to streamline the process of intaking, prioritizing, and completing IT requests.

Now, whenever a customer reports a technology-related incident through Jira Service Management, Automation for Jira creates tasks in Jira Software. When the ticket reaches different stages, details are automatically added to the linked Jira Software ticket, and the customer is notified. This automatic feedback loop keeps customers informed, instills confidence that their request is being addressed, and saves staff time providing manual status updates.

“We have been able to reduce the CRITICAL and HIGH incidents greatly, as we have clear insight to what is going on in the different support teams,” Marie says. “That way, we can pursue any ticket that might need attention and make sure it reaches the correct resolution as fast as possible. This has reduced the time to resolution on those incidents from several days to a matter of hours.”

Development, Operations, and vendors come together to deliver smoother, faster service

In addition to saving valuable time, Marie and Aety Partner Kristian Thomsen say integrating Jira Software and Jira Service Management has helped connect Development and Operations.

While ISS is still in the process of realizing a comprehensive DevOps practice and workflow, they’ve begun testing it out with their largest customers. For these engagements, the company supplies a facility management software for the customer to invoke service from ISS. The ISS team then uses Jira Software (integrated with the BigPicture Marketplace app for project management and project portfolio management) and Jira Service Management for incident management. If an incident relates to a program defect, ISS links the Jira Service Management ticket to Jira Software so developers can work on the issue, and a notification is automatically sent to the Operations agent for awareness and customer communication.

“One of the large benefits of having ITSM and Development on the same platform is that we can communicate seamlessly without having to spend time developing tedious integrations that need to be maintained when statuses are changed in different systems,” Kristian explains. Marie adds, “The integration between Jira Service Management and Jira Software has allowed Operations and Development to achieve a better understanding of the workload across team borders and also support a more structured process, allowing us to efficiently manage workload and prioritize tasks.” Plus, because comments and work are synced between Jira Service Management and Jira Software, team members can work in whichever solution they prefer, and ISS saves on licensing costs.

Integrating these solutions and teams has proven invaluable for streamlining change management and handling over 80,000 service requests each year, including requests that require multiple vendors (who, in turn, require different levels of system access) to work together. With Atlassian’s multi-vendor setup, everyone can collaborate to deliver fast, thorough service as a team and monitor performance through their own dashboards. Shared systems and dashboards have also helped ISS’s change managers evolve their practice. Their first workflow helps reviewers distinguish between standard, normal, emergency, and exception changes; gain additional context to make faster, more informed decisions; view real-time status updates; and track important metrics such as deployment velocity. ISS plans to continue building on this workflow to harness that efficiency even more.

While sharing information has been key for delivering faster, better service, security is still a top priority. Thanks to native functionality and Marketplace apps like Queues for Jira Service Management, ISS can control stakeholder permissions. Integrations with Confluence and other Marketplace apps provide even greater control, plus time savings and visibility across vendors. For example, ISS integrated Jira Service Management with Confluence so employees and vendors can search the knowledge base for answers without ever leaving Jira Service Management. They have also opened this search functionality up to their customers.

ISS also uses the Rich Filters app to quickly pull data across many vendors for global performance management. In addition, integrating the Mindville Insight app into Jira Service Management helped the firm’s German office build a configuration management database that supports their automation processes and gives the team more control over their data. This will enable them to better anticipate the impact of changes to critical business services and respond to the unexpected faster.

Through every step of implementation and optimization, Aety and an Atlassian Technical Account Manager (TAM) have been by ISS’s side. “Aety has been a trusted partner from the very beginning…Having that partnership where advisory is at the center, flexibility is proven, and trust is mutual has been absolutely key for the success we have achieved,” Marie says. “Our TAM has also shortened the path to finding solutions and brought value to our team and our business.”

Customized for local teams, standardized for global organizations

As ISS empowered their staff to explore new service improvements and leverage Atlassian to their advantage, teams across ISS started experimenting with the tools. “The transformation sort of initiated organically. People just really needed to get out of inboxes, Excel sheets, and legacy, siloed knowledge sources,” Kristian says.

Jira Service Management, in particular, spread quickly as people saw how much faster and easier it was to have one central catalog where everyone could request work from other teams, manage dependencies, and collaborate through resolution.

For example, while IT was in the process of modernizing their ITSM practices, ISS’s UK Finance team was working on redesigning and restructuring their processes too. Their suppliers and vendors can now use Jira Service Management to submit questions on invoices, payments, and more via one of 22 mailboxes. Messages are automatically forwarded to one handle in Jira Service Management, which Finance employees use to resolve requests and manage purchases from procurement to payment.

HR is another group that was inspired to apply ITSM best practices to business processes and transform their workflows with Atlassian. They use Jira Service Management to onboard internal employees and external contractors each year, as well as automate tasks like requesting and tracking leave.

Regional teams are taking automations even further. “Germany has a fully automated flow that integrates with SAP and SCCM,” Marie explains. “People can request licenses for software, get approved, then get the software deployed on their laptop. Hardware ordering is integrated with SAP so they can see if it’s in stock or needs to be ordered. The whole process is handled automatically unless it needs approval, which managers can do in Jira.”

“Atlassian fuels process improvements so it’s easy to mature the process and improve the way ISS is working.”

Marie Bjørke, Head of IT Service Management at ISS

To maintain standardization while building out a single, global ITSM solution, Aety has created a playbook for local solution partners, which includes naming conventions, how to use add-ons, when to use scripting, and documentation requirements. This playbook will continue to come in handy as ISS rolls out service desks to new teams and countries, starting with the U.S., Turkey, and France.

An ITSM solution, helping the world work better

From IT to Finance to HR and more, teams across ISS are embracing enterprise service management and Atlassian as more modern, efficient ways of working. Marie says it’s been a game changer to go from a fragmented toolset to a single point of contact that can be used globally and locally by employees, vendors, and customers alike: “Atlassian supports our processes so we all work in the same tool, in the same way…Now we have a single place of truth from which we can extract data and base our reports. This provides us with a better overview and a common understanding throughout the organization.”

Kristian adds that having access to real-time data and visibility across vendors means ISS can measure performance. From increasing response time to meet SLAs, to completing daily tasks faster, to alleviating bottlenecks, the team can see exactly what’s going on and make informed improvements. “Atlassian fuels process improvements so it’s easy to mature the process and improve the way ISS is working,” Kristian says.

Connecting people and places to make the world better will be an ongoing mission for ISS. With the help of Atlassian and Aety, the company has made monumental progress in just a few years, while laying the groundwork needed to deliver the fast, consistent service their team has always been known for, to more people than ever before.