Yvonne Holland – Kinaxis
Imagine you work at a supply chain management company, helping global manufacturers respond to volatility in the markets. Disruption of any kind—like a slow computer of not having access to the right information—can put a dent in profitability.
So when the disruptions happen, you’d better get help—fast!
So says Yvonne Holland, the company’s vice president of information technology. Since joining the Canadian supply chain management software company in early 2020, Holland’s made it her mission to create an IT department employees will want to brag about.
Seeking to improve how the company of 1,000 employees resolves service tickets, Kinaxis recently partnered with ServiceNow to create a programmable chatbot that can answer inquiries or direct them to appropriate sources.
“It’s been an important project to get things done quickly,” Holland says. “With so many processes baked into the tool, we’ve implemented a responsive consistent system that’s easy to use—and delivers results.”
Matter of mindset
When Holland joined the Ottawa, Ontario-based company in January 2020, one of her objectives was to “change the conversation about IT”—whether it was fixing a computer or renewing a software license. The goal, Holland says, was not only to make the department more proactive, but “more positive” as well.
“The answer will never first be ‘no’ at the service desk,” Holland says. “I want people to know our IT Department has their back—offering technical information, software and the tools they need to do their job. We want to make it easy.”
For many software as a service, or SaaS, companies, time is money and a rapid response is crucial—whether an employee lacks access to a business application or if a computer needs repair. Holland ensures her staff provides speedy solutions to any of these scenarios, and more—including toilet paper shortages during a pandemic.
“In any business there are many moving pieces and parts,” says Holland. “Our data initiative looks at how data itself operates. There are many aspects to consider—from how we move data around, to how we offer support services.”
Spot and solve
Of course, technical glitches and last-minute requests can—and do—arise. Even more reason, Holland says, to have a frictionless response. In March, Kinaxis partnered with American software company ServiceNow to launch a cloud-based computing platform for processing electronic tickets (with the help of programmable chatbots) to improve the digital workflow throughout the enterprise.
“The platform is loaded with lots of capabilities to deliver on quality with consistency,” Holland says. “We wanted a system without barriers for operation—one that only offers solutions to help our employees do the best job possible for our clients.”
The new ticketing system was rolled out this spring to cover all areas of the business, from facilities and security to purchasing, IT and—soon—HR. Phase 2 of the project, which includes bringing in additional cloud services and global customer care, will begin in May.
Kinaxis is also in the process of teaching chatbots how to answer more frequently asked questions about licensing issues, HR or how to onboard a new employee. Holland wants to get the system to the point where an employee can ask a chatbot anything, such as “I need a new laptop,” or “tell me about my medical coverage.”
Another initiative revolves around data governance, integration and analysis. As Holland explains, “it’s not really a project. It’s more of a way of thinking.”
With close to 20 years working in just about every IT capacity—from CIO to global engineering and operations—Holland says three things drew her to Kinaxis: its impressive products, the company’s dynamic culture and the opportunity to take a deep dive into the information-management space.
Holland prioritized data integration. When she arrived, she found IT information managed by separate IT groups. So, she synthesized operations into one dashboard by creating a single service desk and implementing metrics “to create simplicity, understanding and efficiency.”
As she puts it, “Different departments—from marketing to finance—use and record data in different ways, simply importing and exporting information and running reports. All the departments represent different pieces of the puzzle. What we needed was more analysis of the information to get a total picture.”
That data is critical, she says, because it drives decisions. Holland knows the terrain well, having spent decades working for Ontario companies like Ross Video and Enghouse Networks. Earning an executive MBA degree from the University of Ottawa in 2003 gives her further insight into successful business operations, she says.
“It showed me a methodical way of knowing how to bring processes forward into a department that may not have had this before,” Holland says. “What is equally rewarding is working with a team of people receptive to growth and working together as a team.”
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