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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.