Mary Kay Gets IT Makeover

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Maryville Technologies implements business service management capabilities.

Mary Kay is in the beauty business, though the company's IT systems were anything but pretty not long ago. It was time for a makeover.

In 2004, Mary Kay's combination of homegrown and packaged applications, installed over time, no longer cut it. So the company turned to Maryville Technologies, of Kansas City, Mo., to implement BSM (business service management) technology. Maryville reduced the number of servers in use and found ways to support corporate growth without increasing staffing.

Maryville also created a global system to ensure consistent IT support to Mary Kay's independent sales consultants around the world.

Managing growth

Founded in 1962, Mary Kay has more than 1.7 million people selling its cosmetics and fragrances in 30 markets worldwide. In 2005, the company had about $2.25 billion in wholesale sales. Currently more than 95 percent of Mary Kay's independent sales force places orders via the Internet.

"As an organization, we were facing the problem of large growth of IT staff and systems in the environment and how to get that sorted out and classified in order to provide a high level of service to the sales consultants," said Steve Moore, technology leader at Mary Kay. As Mary Kay expanded, so did its IT organization. In eight years, it grew to more than 450 from 100.

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The IT department is split into three divisions: e-commerce, supply chain and back office support. For the makeover, the company focused on e-commerce because of the contact with sales consultants. The company, over the years, had cobbled together different systems to handle such tasks as incident handling, asset management and change management. But the systems didn't communicate, making a comprehensive picture of the company's IT infrastructure nearly impossible.

Creating cohesion

Three years ago, the company decided to deploy BSM for a more cohesive IT approach. "Business service management is the concept of how to connect IT departments to the ultimate customer," Moore said. "I saw BSM as a way to bridge the gap between what our consultants do and how we connect either directly or indirectly." The company chose BMC Software and Maryville for the project, having worked with both before.

"We had a relationship with Mary Kay dating back five or six years and have done work with them on a number of management technology projects," said Mike Thornhill, vice president of sales at Maryville Technologies, in Kansas City, Mo. "We were one of the first BSM certified partners for BMC and one of the only partners that knew BMC's Remedy technology."

After discussing challenges and hopes with Maryville, Mary Kay decided to move ahead with the project. "The more we talked to Maryville, the more confident we were of their abilities," Moore said.

The solution provider helped Mary Kay get a clear picture of its organization and IT workflow. One of the biggest challenges was the dynamic nature of Mary Kay's IT environment. Mary Kay leases all its IT equipment, including servers, PCs, routers, switches and hubs, and replaces it on a two-year cycle. The approach keeps technology current but makes keeping records on services and applications difficult.

Moore said Maryville helped define the scope of the project, and the result was clarity about the needed direction. "We realized we needed to place top priority on three core areas that have a significant impact on the business: downtime associated with incident and problem management; changes to our applications, systems and other infrastructure components; and the management of our IT assets," Moore said.

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Maryville also helped Mary Kay understand how far its current processes were from where they should go. "The first thing we gave them was a process gap analysis, which effectively said, 'Here's how your current processes are functioning, here's where the gap against industry best practices is, and here's how you can implement best practice,'" Thornhill said.

As a well-established company, Mary Kay's corporate culture demands a high level of buy-in from employees to succeed. "Maryville was able to come in, talk to people, remove themselves from the environment and figure out what they are really saying and where to go with that," Moore said.

Putting in the product

After the planning stage, Mary Kay and Maryville worked together to implement the BMC technology to achieve best practices. First, Maryville replaced five service request systems with BMC Remedy Service Desk. The new system ensures that consultants in 30 countries are served in a standardized way, Moore said.

Maryville also helped Mary Kay implement BMC Atrium CMDB (Configuration Management Database), an intelligent data repository that dynamically maintains a logical model of the IT environment. The system allows Mary Kay IT staff to access a consolidated view of the entire IT environment.

In addition to providing better IT support to consultants, the project produced other benefits such as greater efficiency, reduced costs and downtime, and improved service. For example, IT staff members now have a shared language and can view, on a single screen, information that previously required 10 separate reports.

"We've been able to reduce the number of servers we need, which saves money-not only in terms of hardware and maintenance, but also in terms of administrative burden and data center space," Moore said. "In terms of human resources, it has allowed us to handle the company's rapid growth without a substantial increase in staffing." The changes also allowed IT personnel to focus on strategic tasks. "We are finding our engineers and technical people are having time to do other things," Moore said. "They want to be involved in cool engineering things, but support is something they have to deal with, and now it's become less of a daunting task."

The project worked out so well that Mary Kay is considering engaging Maryville for future work. "We may have Maryville come back this year to do a check up and discuss how they can add further value," Moore said.


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