Accelerating Thames Water’s IT Flow

By Philip Taphouse, Command Centre and ServiceNow Programme Manager at Thames Water

I once came across a quote by Tim Huval, CHRO of Humana, on how ‘a good employee experience is one where each employee feels that they can fully be themselves, freely contributing their talents, bright ideas and energy, to support the organisation’s mission and success’.

quote echoes with what we are striving to achieve for our own employees at
Thames Water. We want to create amazing experiences for our workforce and our
15 million customers and inspire them to become our lifelong advocates.

technology plays a fundamental
role in transforming perceptions of
customers and employees. But this means organisations have to be smart about
the way they invest in new technologies to build a high-performance culture and
customer advocacy.

Thames Water, it’s fair to say that, at first, we learnt this the hard way. We had no real
control or visibility of our IT infrastructure and that restricted our
understanding over how to build customer trust and drive positive
employee experiences.

Taking back

problem was that we were allowing multiple suppliers to manage and report on every
aspect of our IT support and operations. Our suppliers were determining our
approach and telling us how well they were doing – in essence, they were
marking their own homework.

ServiceNow allowed us to take
back ownership of all our tools, data, governance and processes, by creating a
platform for a service integration and management (SIAM) model.

We now have a full command centre
for all Thames Water IT operations and support, offering visibility of every
application, incident, project and machine in one place — and the results
have been dramatic.

When you’re running a vast and varied
portfolio of more than 650 essential business applications, visibility is key. If
one goes down it can mean hundreds of field engineers are left on the road
without knowing where to go, customers that can’t access their accounts online,
or water testing putting quality control on hold.

With ServiceNow, this has completely changed.
For a start, the increased visibility of our IT operation means outages are few
and far between. If they do happen, then we can almost immediately identify the
issue down to the level of a specific database queue or even a single line of

the digital workflow tap

The cost and
time savings generated through orchestration and digital workflows have been
immense — and there are numerous, concrete ways these have manifested in the

For example, the
time taken for virtual machine builds has been reduced from 45 days to just three
days. We can pop up microsites or create and run fully-automated scripts to
build an entire platform in only three hours. When we demonstrated this to our board
recently, I can honestly say they were gobsmacked. It’s a transformational
change for the organisation

The Return on
Investment (ROI) is staggering too. Our estimates indicate cost savings of between
£6m-£10m a year as a direct result of the orchestrations and accelerated
digital workflows that are enabled by the ServiceNow platform.  

agents, chatbots and mobile capabilities to support any worker, anywhere

Our service desk used to be called the
‘unhelpful desk’ by many of our 6,000 employees, but we’ve completely turned
around perceptions.

Our employees really care about the work they
are doing, whether it’s they are dealing with a pipe leak in the field, talking
to customers in our call centre, or working in head office. We have a
responsibility to make sure we are giving them the IT infrastructure,
applications and support to empower them in their roles.

The Thames Water employee portal, Taps,
provides a modern way for everyone in the organisation to interact with IT,
with digital workflows ensuring any problem, incident or request is processed at

We’re also adding some exciting features with
ServiceNow’s virtual agent and chat capabilities. If an issue or outage occurs,
ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent automatically sends a message to any employee
that might be affected via Microsoft Teams and a banner is created to flag that
IT is already working to fix the problem.

Chatbots are
also on hand to give employees an immediate way to find out more information
and get updates in real time – with no human intervention required.

productivity and more meaningful work

The transformation within Thames Water has
been dramatic. The ServiceNow platform has given us back control and digital
workflows and AI-powered technologies have removed time-consuming, manual

But we’re not about to replace humans. Our
journey with ServiceNow has only served to highlight how much potential we were
stifling within our organisation. By freeing up the IT team and our wider workforce
from dealing with IT and operational issues, we are giving them the freedom to add
value to the business.

As the CHRO of Humana pointed out, enabling
our employees to contribute their talents, bright ideas and energy is what a
great employee experience is all about.