MetLife is one of the world’s leading financial services companies. In Poland, MetLife began its operations in 1990 as the first insurance company with foreign capital on the Polish market. In early 2014, MetLife was one of the first companies in the country to implement Jira Service Desk in IT services, which was a pioneering experience they willingly share at Atlassian-related events. During Jira Day 2018, hosted by us in mid-March in Warsaw, we seized the moment and talked to MetLife Computer Support Supervisor Joanna Czochara about the details of this story.
How does the work in MetLife IT Department look like?
IT services in MetLife are based on ITIL best practices, which are generally universal and can be applied to any organisation. Therefore, I could say that IT operations in the insurance industry are not so different from other companies managed this way.
For how long have you been using Jira Service Desk? Why did you choose this solution?
Before JSD, we had used several systems and processes to manage requests, which were not integrated with each other. It could be email, open source OTRS, IBM ClearQuest or a very limited use of Jira Software. Imagine that some branches had been serviced even by paperwork!
We just couldn’t work like that anymore. This situation was uncomfortable both for the IT department and for the users. Everyone had to wonder which way to file a ticket anytime they needed something. Also, there wasn’t a clear way to transfer a ticket between these systems.
The only correct decision we could make is to implement one unified and fully integrated system for all kinds of IT inquiries.
So we started to explore the market and test the available solutions. I should admit it wasn’t an easy choice for us. When some product seemed fitting well into the IT support workflow, it didn’t provide a tool for change management, or access management, or something else. We were looking for a solution that would be cost-effective for our team size, customizable, easy configurable and boasting a user-friendly interface. After some time of fruitless search, we noticed Jira Service Desk hitting the market in October 2013.
Adding the Customer Portal functionality to Jira instantly became one of the key selection factors for us.
Unification of several ticket filing systems and processes is a hard challenge. How was it with Jira Service Desk implementation?
It was 3,5 months long. At the time, Jira Service Desk was version 1.2, so naturally we were coming across bugs and performance issues. Anyway, having been one of the first to use the software, we saw great potential in it. Fortunately, Atlassian were working hard to fix the occurring issues on the fly.
We also were lacking many functionalities with these first versions. As told by a friend of mine, “Pioneers’ shoulders are full of arrows”. We experienced this exact kind of feeling, but it was worthwhile in the end.
What features were you lacking then?
Actually, even today you cannot find many of them out-of-the-box. On our Customer Portal, we needed dynamic forms and request type security. Our clients couldn’t see issues waiting for approval nor switch languages automatically. Redirecting a user to another system by clicking on a certain request type was a simple thing, yet unavailable by default. Representation requests and enhanced Active Directory integration were also important for us, as we needed to build steady acceptance process and have more information about users in Jira. All these features were so essential for my team that we could not execute standard issue management on production without having them.
So, in fact, we started customizing our Service Desk as soon as a test instance was established.
We knew that the Atlassian solution was great in terms of adding custom features to it, so we took an opportunity and kindly asked Deviniti (then InTENSO) to develop them for us. All the mentioned features had been written even before we let users into the system.
You mentioned enhanced Active Directory integration. Could you tell us more about it?
At the start, the need for closer integration basically was about having users’ phone numbers, departments and managers in Jira. This information comes in handy, as our acceptance chain is pretty extensive. But after some time we decided on the next step, which was automating access management in terms of network catalogues and applications. So we ordered 2 add-ons: Catalogue Synchro and Application Synchro, which are 100% custom. Both application roles and read/write permission in catalogues are now based on a group membership in Active Directory.
Summing it up, how can you evaluate the effects of Jira Service Desk implementation?
First of all, we’ve completed our goal of having a unified IT service tool in MetLife.
Thanks to Catalog Synchro and Application Synchro, 25% of access management tickets are now resolved automatically.
Recurring notifications on issues waiting for approval have solved accumulation of unaccepted tickets. Representation requests enable delegating permissions in the acceptance chain, which helps us get rid of paperwork. Last but not least, dynamic forms and request type security adjust the Customer Portal to our clients’ needs, as well as ours.
It was a big change, and it was hard to adapt to. We were used to previous solutions, however uncomfortable had they been. But the migration proved right shortly after, and now we’re sure it leads us to the right direction. We see this change as a big plus — thank you Deviniti for your help!
Many of the custom features mentioned during the talk resulted as commercial apps: Extension for Jira Service Desk, Dynamic Forms for Jira and Active Directory Attributes Sync. Take a free 30-day trial from the Atlassian Marketplace.
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