The University of OxfordITSM Transformation

The University of OxfordITSM Transformation

University Service Desk

The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. As one of the leading universities, the IT Executive Management Team (EMT) embarked upon an IT Transformation programme designed to ensure it remains at the leading edge. With a need to provide improved levels of service to over 40,000 IT users, they identified an opportunity to create a vision of the future based upon operational efficiency. The university is comprised of 38 independent colleges, with over 100 departments, including research, university staff and library support. There were three key IT departments offering services as well as local IT officers in each of the colleges, each autonomous and able to make purchasing and management decisions both on infrastructure and support.


Our Approach Phase one

Pink Elephant facilitated a vision workshop, focusing on the service desk provision, to assist the EMT in defining their long- term view and short-term objectives and priorities for the new consolidated service desk. Any major programme of change requires a compelling vision so that employees can understand, support and deliver the required changes to organisation structure, culture and working practices.

Without key support at this stage, many projects fail to deliver the expected outcomes. The workshop involved the key stakeholders of the project and was deemed a successful and positive exercise, delivering value to this stage of the project by clarifying the future desired state of the service desk. With the vision defined, Pink Elephant embarked upon a review of the three existing help desks to identify how the support offerings could be consolidated into a single service desk.

The remit of the assessment also included identifying best practices from the existing three help desks. The university is quite unique in the current climate in that reduction in costs was not one of the key drivers behind the project. The goal was to deliver improved efficiencies and offer a single point of contact for their user base. Through a series of structured workshops involving key IT staff and business users, Pink Elephant conducted a review of the three help desk functions and included an assessment of their ITSM processes such as Incident, Request Fulfillment and Access Management.

Pink Elephant worked with the university to understand and define how the toolset functionality and capability would support the vision of the future state. Over 500 requirements were captured and collated into a formal request for proposal document for the university to use as an integral part of their procurement process.

Phase two

For Phase Two, Pink Elephant was asked to provide assistance with the critical tool selection process, the design and documentation of agreed processes for Incident, Service Request, Problem and Change Management as well as delivering an ITSM Business Simulation for the CIO and her direct reports to bring to life the desired end state.

Pink Elephant utilised its PinkSELECT product to draw upon their years of experience within the market place to provide a detailed, but flexible, approach to selecting the ITSM toolset that would underpin the integration project.

Within Phase One, Pink Elephant had assisted with the production of the toolset RFP, based upon the functionality and capability that were important for the university. A total of eight vendor organisations responded to the RFP were scored against the outlined criteria, resulting in an initial shortlist of four organisations that were evaluated in Phase Two. An initial round of demonstrations and evaluations would reduce this to two organisations that would be taken forward for detailed evaluation.

Pink Elephant was asked to provide SME support in advance of the initial demonstration by the four shortlisted organisations.
Aside from a suggested scoring mechanism, Pink Elephant was tasked with providing use case scenarios, which were as close as possible to how the university wanted to use the toolset. In order to prepare the scenarios, support was drawn from a parallel piece of work which was focused on designing the end state IT Service Management processes for use in the university’s IT Services.

In order to ensure a smooth transition to combined working practice, there was a need for ITIL®-aligned processes to be defined and agreed across all areas. Pink Elephant hosted a series of one- and two-day workshops to agree on the framework for the processes that were in place.

Our Solution

The output of these workshops provided the knowledge required to develop the relevant use case scenarios to support the ITSM tool selection process. Pink Elephant engaged with organisations on behalf of the university, freeing the project team up to work on other areas at the same time. This helped both organisations understand the complexities and priorities of the university, and ensured that the evaluation was effective and thorough. Not only did the university now have high-level process frameworks in place to support them as they moved forward, but it also allowed the shortlisted organisations to be assessed against how the university planned to actually work rather than vanilla ITIL or how the toolset worked ‘out of the box’. John Ireland, Director of Customer Services, commented:

“The use cases were very helpful, they were used in not only assessing the tools but also in getting a broad engagement from teams across our department and getting buy-in from the distributed IT staff who we work with across the wider university.”

A final shortlist of two vendors was selected for a more detailed and longer assessment. As a result of this assessment, the university was able to select a preferred vendor and move into the next phase of implementing its new processes in the chosen toolset. This will ensure that the desired way of working is reflected in the tool as it starts to be implemented. Following the successful selection of the ITSM toolset, and high-level process frameworks in place, Phase Three is now focusing on implementing the chosen ITSM toolset and launching their new integrated IT service desk.

Customer Benefits


  • A clear and concise roadmap
  • An improved procurement process
  • Business simulations that help to secure management buy-in
  • Consolidation of the service desk
  • ITSM Toolset selection support
  • SME support
  • Improvement of IT services


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