An ITIL® case study
1 Introduction 03
2 The importance of IT and IT service management to Aquila Heywood and its customers 03
3 Realizing the value of ITIL 04
4 Continual service improvement 04
5 ITIL training and certification: supporting growing services and new development methods 04
6 Measuring project success 05
7 What are your recommended best practices? 06
8 About the author 07
9 About AXELOS 08
10 Trademarks and statements 08
02 Aquila Heywood – an ITIL® case study AXELOS.COM
AXELOS.COM Aquila Heywood – an ITIL® case study 03
Aquila Heywood provides software to over 80% of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). Its
AltairTM platform administers the pensions of millions of members across the UK and Ireland.
There have been many regulatory and legislative changes within the pensions and insurance industry in
the British Isles in recent years. The public sector has experienced major challenges and has had to rapidly
adapt in response. As a consequence, the technology that supports the industry has had to innovate to
Aquila Heywood adopted ITIL® in 2013 to ensure it could efficiently meet the changing needs of the
marketplace. One of the aims was to address issues relating to the management of incidents, problems and
change, including the ability to communicate vital and relevant information to its customers.
2. The importance of IT and IT service management to Aquila
Heywood and its customers
Aquila Heywood provides critical IT systems and services. Some of its customers make 100,000 payroll
payments per month, with one particular customer making 340,000 monthly payments. Aquila Heywood’s
platform enables them to “pay the right money to the right people on the right day”.
Steve Haslam, Head of Service Operations at Aquila Heywood explains:
We have a pretty complex business in terms of software customisation. This involves traditional
developers writing code alongside financial services specialists, as well as regulation and legislation
Customers expect us to react immediately to high impact events, for example, a member-facing
website going down, or the inability to run payroll, as well as routine issues like the need to meet
legislative deadlines (and the fines they risk for failing to meet them). There are also lesser issues,
such as a slow-running server or a financial calculation not providing the expected result.
04 Aquila Heywood – an ITIL® case study AXELOS.COM
3. Realizing the value of ITIL
By adopting the ITIL framework, and providing ITIL training and certification to their staff, Aquila Heywood
can separate the way they manage incidents from how they handle problems. It has also given the
company a more accurate overview of events, so that information can be fed back into business strategy.
We had a large number of tickets and we weren’t differentiating between incidents and problems,
which affected our ability to manage them. It was like herding cats,” Steve says. “If a server’s down,
that’s unavoidable and has to be dealt with immediately, but a software fault raised by a customer
has a longer lead time. We had a large number of tickets involving numerous clients experiencing
the same problem.
User groups and customers want to view real time information about faults that affect them. Customers can
now consult a known error list, with the understanding that Aquila Heywood is actively working on a fix for
We can now update a large number of customers at once, which removes delay in communication
about errors. This is important; errors are inevitable in any complex IT environment such as ours,
where we have two mature applications and 60 developers across two sites constantly updating
code, along with teams working on financial calculations.
Today, we have clear information for managing the business and for the customer relationship team.
For example, what might initially be reported as something wrong with our product can turn out
merely to be a bit of advice the customer needs.
4. Continual service improvement
Aquila Heywood has embraced continual service improvement, which helps when adopting Agile and
DevOps delivery methods.
The company is positioned to feed lessons learned into its development and testing activities. Having
regular meetings with the testing manager helps identify trends and prevents issues from recurring. For
example, there were historic issues within one system at the start of each new tax year; the operations
team worked with the development team to create a testing process that ensured it couldn’t happen again,
preventing the vulnerability leaking into future releases.
‘The interaction we now have between service operations and development has addressed the issue of
siloed-working,’ Steve says.
5. ITIL training and certification: supporting growing services and
new development methods
Certifying staff in service operations at intermediate level has given the Aquila Heywood team in-depth
knowledge about how services operate and how to implement improvement plans. The company’s IT
service operations policy now forms part of its contract with customers. The company is continuing to
invest in staff, and offer training up to ITIL Expert level.
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This has supported the sale of additional services to customers, such as extended service desk working
hours and shift work that needs a formal, first-line service desk. Customer surveys in recent years have
shown an upwards curve in satisfaction thanks to service desk improvements.
Meanwhile, having staff trained and certified in service transition has supported the development team’s
adoption of DevOps. Contrary to the myth, DevOps and ITIL complement each other, and ITIL can be
adapted to accommodate continual deployment of software, automated testing and accelerated release
cycles. For example, in Aquila Heywood’s case, incidents can be assigned to DevOps engineers when
6. Measuring project success
For Aquila Heywood, adopting ITIL was about maintaining consistency in its use of technology and IT
terminology across two sites in the UK.
Steve Haslam said:
There is always resistance to change but, in this case, no greater resistance than for any other
change. Ultimately, we had to sell the idea to people who might have been with the company for 30
years. However, anyone who was initially resistant has been won over because they see the benefits
that ITIL brings.
06 Aquila Heywood – an ITIL® case study AXELOS.COM
Five years on from introducing ITIL, Steve says the whole project has worked well:
We have a more accurate picture of how we’re working, our operations are easier to manage, and
customers feel the benefit of the changes we have made.
We’re now using definitions that create an association between a problem and a configuration item.
That means customers can now view just the problems that relate to them, rather than problems
that don’t affect them.
Our service operations policy dictates that, if a customer is likely to experience an issue through an
incident or problem, we should tell them, however difficult that might be.
7. What are your recommended best practices?
Top 5 ITIL Do’s
z Take time to explain to colleagues and customers the challenges you face, and the benefits ITIL will bring
z Talk to customers about the information they need and about where problems arise
z Make management information readily available to everyone in real time; it drives the desired behaviour
z Invest in a comprehensive service catalogue
z Shift as many incidents and service requests ‘left’ to the first line team as possible; it reduces management overheads
while improving response times.
Top 5 ITIL Don’ts
z Don’t allow customers to set the priority of incidents
z Don’t over-complicate processes
z Don’t create too many problem records; a low rate of incidence and/or small impact does not justify opening a problem
z Don’t make changes to the service desk system unless absolutely necessary; they introduce overheads during upgrades
z Don’t consider the ITIL framework to be set in stone; tailor it to your business needs.
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8. About the author
Having worked in the corporate pensions field since 1986, Steve Haslam
joined Aquila Heywood as a pensions consultant at the start of 1998. Since
then, he has been tasked with developing a separate consultancy and support
division to help customers handle hardware and software issues. He became
Head of Service Operations in 2015.
9. About AXELOS
AXELOS is a joint venture company co-owned by the UK Government’s Cabinet Office and
It is responsible for developing, enhancing, and promoting a number of best practice
methodologies used globally by professionals working primarily in project, programme and
portfolio management, IT service management and cyber resilience.
The methodologies, including ITIL®, PRINCE2®, MSP®, RESILIA®, are adopted in more than
150 countries to improve employees’ skills, knowledge and competence in order to make both
individuals and organizations work more effectively.
In addition to globally recognized qualifications, AXELOS equips professionals with a wide
range of content, templates and toolkits through the CPD aligned My AXELOS and our online
community of practitioners and experts.
Visit www.AXELOS.com for the latest news about how AXELOS is ‘Making organizations
more effective’ and registration details to join AXELOS’ online community. If you have specific
queries, requests or would like to be added to the AXELOS mailing list please contact
10. Trade marks and statements
AXELOS®, the AXELOS swirl logo®, ITIL®, PRINCE2®, PRINCE2 Agile®, MSP®, M_o_R®,
P3M3®, P3O®, MoP®, MoV®, RESILIA® are registered trade marks of AXELOS Limited.
AgileSHIFTTM is a trade mark of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.
Copyright © AXELOS Limited 2018.
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About this Case Study
This article details how one company used ITIL to
contribute to the success of its organization