The art of delivering core IT services at huge scale
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The art of delivering core IT services at huge scale

Kenny MacIver — October 2018
Dieter Pütz, head of IT Shared Services for Deutsche Post DHL, explains how the logistics giant fulfils the common technology needs of its vast global workforce — consistently and cost-efficiently.

Providing a consistent, high-quality set of IT services to an organization’s workforce — desktop PCs, digital telephony, video conferencing, mobile devices, communication services and all the associated software and support — is one of the fundamentals of any IT department. But two factors turn that provision from a standard deliverable to an epic challenge: scale and global footprint.

At Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL), the numbers behind that challenge are truly eye-popping. The 3,900-strong IT Services group at the world's largest mail and logistics company is responsible for 260,000 desktop PCs spread across 8,000 locations, 330,000 mailboxes, 133,000 unified communications and collaboration clients, 52,000 smartphones and countless applications, while providing support for that technology estate in 50 languages across 210 countries and territories.

Dieter Pütz, head of IT Shared Services, Deutsche Post DHL
As head of IT Shared Services, Dieter Pütz leads the consolidation and fulfillment of that IT demand from all five divisions of DPDHL, as well as the design and introduction of service innovations. As he outlines, the challenge is to offer core IT that serves end-users’ diverse needs well and delivers a great user experience, whatever physical, regulatory or political environment they are in, whether they are close to an IT delivery center or in some remote corner of the world. And all the while, extracting efficiencies from the operation’s scale and common IT standards.

“Holding all those [elements] together is definitely a challenge, but dealing with these kinds of mega environments is what makes it so interesting,” says Pütz, who also sits on the management board of the wider IT Services group. The organization’s biggest challenge, he says, always comes with the introduction of major new services for the group.

“That’s where my passion lies, and it’s also where, in the last two or three years, we’ve brought together a capability that is new and unique,” he says. A good example of a new service roll-out might be the switch from analog telephony to the Lync/Skype for Business service platform for audio, video and instant message communication, or the establishment of consistent telepresence facilities across the global organization. “As always, what makes that so challenging is the sheer size of DPDHL and the expectation around the smooth management of that.”
Offers and orders

As an internal service provider sourcing products and services in-house and from close partners, IT Shared Services also has to ensure it puts forward a compelling and up-to-date set of offerings. “It’s all about offers on our side and orders on their side,” says Pütz, with end-users making selections from an online catalog. “Our order management platform enables them to choose the services they need through a group-wide portal, RequestIT. Fortunately, our close alignment with the business means most divisions exclusively take services from our portfolio.”

As that model has become standard, demand has grown fast. Pütz reports that Request IT took around 550,000 orders in 2017 and he expects the order book to cross the million mark this year. Reflecting just one aspect of that, Microsoft classes DPDHL as one of its top dozen customers worldwide for desktop software.
Building blocks for digital transformation

The development of that common portfolio of services has its roots in efforts to rationalize the IT service offerings following multiple acquisitions made in the previous decade. “The real will to integrate everything came during 2011-13,” says Pütz, whose 25 years with Deutsche Post pre-dates the German company’s largest acquisition — of DHL — back in 2002. “All the different subsidiaries that came together had different operational models for their IT and we rolled the bulk of those into a shared service. That harmonisation and consolidation program resulted in the RequestIT product portfolio.

Pütz supports that with the concept of ‘Digital Frontrunners,’ a group of around 5,000 — mostly young — users, who are selected to try out new, innovative services quickly and without any bureaucratic interference.

The recruitment and further development of new employees is also critical to the success of his organization. Pütz refers to them as “product managers” and, as an honorary professor at the Faculty of Economic Sciences at the University of Aachen, he is able to approach many young under-graduates as potential recruits.

Supporting that efficiency has also meant bringing together back-end infrastructure. Over the past six years DPDHL has moved from an operational model of 40-50 different business IT ‘islands’ spread across different countries to three big data and delivery centers: Ashburn, just outside Washington, DC; Prague in the Czech Republic; and Cyberjaya near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Those are also supported by a data center run for the parent company by Deutsche Telekom in Germany.


Pütz characterizes those as the building blocks for digital transformation, providing the services that DPDHL teams need not just to get their everyday work done but also to build out new digital models. Those digital initiatives are increasingly requiring IT Shared Services to work hand in hand with corporate development and business unit teams on projects such as the creation of a data lake, common APIs for market interfaces or the company-wide cloud strategy. It’s an example of DevOps in action. “We are working together to define how the future will look and what their business needs will be; how DevOps, cloud and software-as-a-service can support new business models.”
Payback and satisfaction

The large-scale consolidation of demand for IT services across the whole organisation has resulted in major benefits — for both the business and its employees.

The paybacks for the business are significant. “Through the introduction of these kinds of shared services we have made 35% to 40% of cost savings in the overall journey,” reports Pütz.

He also points to workplace efficiencies brought about through elements such as systems interoperability that allows employees to work collaboratively from any desktop at any location. Users seem to appreciate that flexibility. Pütz highlights a detailed survey undertaken each year by DPDHL’s Global Business Services (GBS) division (in which IT Services sits) that gauges users’ satisfaction levels of their IT experience. The overall Net Promoter score has risen from a credible 58 to a ‘world-class’ 77. “Achieving that is not easy when 260,000 users are evaluating your central service across their very different working environments,” he says.

Those results sit against a backdrop of changing user expectations. “The consumerization of IT means users come with expectations from their personal life where almost everything is available everywhere. Because we have to be a bit more concerned about security and data privacy we have to serve their business needs while also protecting the company from things like data leakages and cyber threats,” he says.
Evolving services

So how will the service offering evolve in coming years? Pütz points to two directions. Further harmonization and consolidation of the back office will be followed by the migration of more services into the cloud — as long as users see the benefits. “While we want to drive efficiency in the back end [through cloud], we have to ensure we listen very carefully to what the user needs and adjust our service portfolio to fit that.”

The other aspect he sees as vital is ever greater agility. “In the past, something like a desktop operating system change would come along every four years or so. Now you might be upgrading a basic PC every six months and mobile phone technology even more frequently. While we don’t think very frequent changes are a good idea for big environments like an email, we have to be more agile. That way, we can meet constantly evolving user expectations and needs.”

First published October 2018
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