Cars.com Turns to Automation to Speed Up Processes

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Cars.com automates processes

After outgrowing its existing IT infrastructure, Cars.com chose a service automation solution to eliminate its tedious and time-consuming manual processes.

By April Carter

The evolution of automobile technology resembles a similar evolution in business IT. Just as auto manufacturers implement automated systems to control everything from the engine to the in-dash entertainment system in order to create intelligent and efficient cars, so too can enterprises leverage automation solutions to improve business efficiencies and productivity.

It’s a scenario we have seen play out firsthand as the leading online destination for automobile and truck shoppers. Every month, we help more than 31 million visitors decide which vehicle to buy, where to buy it and how much to pay.

As we continued to grow our customer base, we came to the realization that we had started to outgrow the capabilities of our existing IT infrastructure. After evaluating multiple options, we chose a service automation solution from ServiceNow to eliminate tedious and time-consuming manual processes.

We used to use spreadsheets to manage a majority of business processes. They were all stored in a central repository, which made finding specific pieces of information very difficult. Different people had to update the same spreadsheet, making version control nearly impossible. We could not create consistent workflows, our processes became disconnected, and we did not have adequate visibility or control.

By tapping service management, we replaced spreadsheets with an automated workflow that provides a higher level of visibility and control over information as it moves across our entire network. The solution enables employees to easily search for, access and share specific information and records in real time using centralized portals.  It gives us one version of the truth.

Another problem we had to address was the lack of a mobile solution, which made it virtually impossible for our facilities engineers to detect problems or see new requests unless they were in the office and sitting in front of their computers. That is a rarity because they are constantly on the road, and hours could pass before an engineer discovered a heating problem or found out that the lights weren’t working in a conference room.

Central System Manages Facilities

Now we have established a central system for managing all of our facilities. Any employee can use ServiceNow to create a facilities ticket, and facilities engineers can use their mobile devices to receive alerts and view the specifics of those tickets.

As a result, engineers now respond more quickly, fix more issues and work more effectively when outside their office. The results have been impressive: Each engineer now resolves around 100 tickets a month, compared to about 40 before the new system was put in place.

Another area we wanted to address was employee onboarding. Rapid growth means constant hiring, and when new employees join, they need computers, email accounts, security credentials, telephones and more.

All of this was previously handled manually. However, that created a large and difficult-to-manage workload for both the HR and IT organizations.

Now, the initial requisition request goes into ServiceNow, which starts the workflow for approvals. Once a requisition is approved, the system sends the details to our recruiting system OpenHire. 

ServiceNow then waits for the recruiting process to complete. Once someone is hired, it automatically starts the IT provisioning processes.  Eighty percent of these processes are automated to free up our Service Desk and Desktop teams. 

The system automates everything that can be automated, and it also assigns and tracks manual tasks such as installation. We’ve saved more than 1,000 hours a year in our IT organization and about 300 hours annually in our Recruiting department.

We have also automated additional business processes. These include making inputs to budget planning, planning operations and engineering, as well as managing our documentation library. In every case, we’ve seen positive results, and we’re looking forward to continued success as we drive to new destinations with ServiceNow.

April Carter is the manager of the Operations Center at Cars.com. She is responsible for the 24x7 monitoring of the company's infrastructure service and Website operation.

This article was originally published on 2015-09-11
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