Morneau Shepell tries self-service workload automation

A Canadian company that provides human resources consulting and outsourcing services is only a few weeks away from offering a self-service tool that will let its business users check the status of requests to the IT department around benefit and pension program changes.

Houston, Tex.-based BMC Software on Tuesday highlighted Morneau Shepell as one of the early adopters of its Control-M Self Service, a workload automation product that assists with job scheduling across a variety of enterprise applications.

Morneau Shepell, which is headquartered in Toronto, serves more than six million employees of companies by helping them manage their health-care benefits. When someone wants to change the amount they’re contributing to their company pension plan, for instance, they sent a request through Morneau Shepell, but that also means that Morneau Shepell will need to update its records. Checking on the status of those kinds of jobs means a lot of costs to the company’s help desk, but the company sees Control-M Self-Service as a way to alleviate that, according to Morneau Shepell advisory analyst Michael Bobbato.

“The business users can see exactly what’s happening with their processes – they don’t have to follow up with us or wait for us to get back with them. It’s kind of like a high-level look for them,” he said. “It also means the QA teams can go in, test processes, set up new processes. There are a lot of options there.”

Traditionally enterprises have used job scheduling software to deal with the various workloads that are required of their IT systems, doing batch processing overnight or on weekends. With the advent of cloud computing and a more hectic pace of business generally, the workload automation market is evolving to make IT departments more “on demand” rather than forcing users to accept jobs to be completed on a more planned-ahead basis. BMC’s Control-M, which Morneau Shepell has been using for at least four years, has primarily been used to assist with sending files to insurers, but it can also work with well-known enterprise business applications such Oracle and SAP. 

Saar Schwartz, BMC’s Control-M solution architect, said the growth of new applications is also driving the need for workload automation and tools such as Control-M Self Service can help eliminate what users perceive as IT department bottlenecks. That doesn’t mean they’re going to take over the entire process, however.

“This doesn’t let you build a (car) engine from bottom to top,” he said. “It tells you where the pedals are and lets you drive.”

Bobbato said he’s planning to offer all the Control-M Self Service features as it’s launched, as the product is fairly straightforward and he anticipates a short learning curve. “I’ve already shown a few people from different teams what’s happening and the self-service capabilities,” he said. “I know as soon as I start doing demonstrations and testing teams, there’ll be more and more feedback.”

Morneau Shepell will be able to measure its progress by analyzing how often Bobbato’s team is working after hours to order services that the business could have done for themselves. “What I want to reduce is the amount of time we’re called on to do these things,” he said.

When that happens, added Schwartz, IT departments can spend more time on planning and increasing automation in other areas of the enterprise, which they sometimes neglect because they’re fielding so many requests from users.

Control-M Self Service will be available as a download from Apple’s app store on June 1, according to BMC.


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