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NetIQ’s consolidation project puts Customers First

Aug 04, 20034 mins
Data Center

* Seven acquisitions led NetIQ to consolidate its tech support organization

Have you undertaken a challenging consolidation project lately?  If so, then you know that getting the people and technology all aligned can be more difficult than lining up the planets.

I recently talked with Holly Files, senior vice president of worldwide support and services at NetIQ.  Files and her team pulled off a monumental consolidation of the technical support organizations within NetIQ, and they did it in record time, with encouraging results so far.  Their experiences are worth sharing with you.

NetIQ has been growing exponentially, largely due to seven major acquisitions in a three-year period.  The company gobbled up other technology firms, including WebTrends, Mission Critical Software, Pentasafe, Marshal Software and a few others.  Each of those companies came into the NetIQ fold with its own service and support organization, as well as the technology to log and resolve cases.

About 20 months ago, Files looked at her extensive worldwide support organization and acknowledged that she really had seven different organizations, not the single cohesive group that a company like NetIQ needs.  Among them, these seven organizations had five different ways of logging a tech support case; four different methods to escalate cases; three different site management structures; and a wide variance of service-level agreements and ways to interface with clients.

Worse, from a customer perspective, this meant there was no single consistent way to obtain support from NetIQ.

Files pulled together a team of 65 people worldwide, to tackle the challenge of giving customers a consistent experience in the manner in which they choose to get their support from NetIQ.  The project, officially called “Customers First,” required the complete reengineering of the tech support processes as well as the introduction of new technology.  It also required the consolidation of nine separate support centers down to six – three in North America and the other three in Ireland, Japan and New Zealand.   The team only had six months to plan and implement everything, as the project had to be completed by NetIQ’s fiscal year-end.

A critical success factor in the project is that technical support engineers were integral members of the working teams.  They helped to define measurement metrics, select telephone and Web technology, and establish communications.  Most important, these team members felt ownership in the changes – changes that would directly impact their jobs and their ability to serve their customers. “These people became the enablers,” Files adds.  “They knew what would be best for the customers.”

As does any company that has been formed through mergers and acquisitions, NetIQ felt the pain and prejudices of different heritages from the various “pre-merger” groups.  For that reason, the company hired a neutral outside consultant who served as the “guiding light” of the project.  He saw to it that each legacy support organization had its say in the new way of doing business.

NetIQ’s IT organization participated in the project but didn’t have to be a strong driver because of the nature of NetIQ’s business.  “All our employees are very technology savvy, since that’s our business,” Files says.  However, the IT team members did help select the technology tools and ensure they would work in NetIQ’s overall IT infrastructure.  Among the products chosen were Aspect Enterprise Contact Server and Customer Self Service; Siebel’s eService module; and Primus eServer knowledge management solution.

“We use technology as the first line of support whenever possible,” Files says.  “This allowed our people to upgrade their skills to handle more challenging cases.” 

It is now three months since the project completion.  NetIQ offers consistent methods of customer support through business partners, over the phone, via e-mail and via the Web.  Customers can choose what methods work best for them.

Six-month success metrics were developed for the project, and so far, most aspects are right on track:

*Average speed to answer

Project goal: 2 minutes

Status as of July 23, 2003: 2 minutes

*First contact routing to correct agent

Goal: 100%

Status: 97%

*Same day resolution

Goal: 55%

Status: 54.40%

*Abandon percentage

Goal: Under 8%

Status: 6.70%

*Visits to knowledge per day

Goal: 2500

Status: 2200

*Percentage of new service requests opened on the Web

Goal: 20%

Status: 10%

I’d like to hear from you if you have experienced NetIQ’s new support capabilities in the last three months. 

Linda Musthaler is vice president of Currid & Company.  You can write to her at