Distribution company saves $380,000 annually in productivity losses with Redwood automation

120 Eliminations

or business interruptions per year

$380,000 Saved per year

in productivity losses

24/7 IT Operations enabled

through centralized visibility

Company Overview

A leading distributor of municipal water, sewer, storm drain, and fire protection products in the U.S. has been in business for decades in various configurations due to mergers and acquisitions. Currently 4,000 employees in approximately 350 branches serve nearly every state in the U.S.

Business Challenge

The current iteration of the company was spun off from its parent several years ago, and the IT department had to build out its own data center and IT Operations team. The parent company had not consolidated its many process schedulers into a single platform, so the company was running nearly two million job executions a month across myriad on-premises and web-based systems, including its primary AS/400 ERP scheduler.

The collection of job schedulers was difficult to manage, needed a lot of people to keep them going, and provided no visibility when processes failed.

The IT Operations Manager who was brought in described what it was like. “When I joined, they were scheduling things on Windows Task Manager, and every server had its own scheduler. If the process failed, nobody knew it unless they happened to go check the Windows scheduler. We had groups of people who got up every day to go and ask, ‘Did that run?’”

The company wanted a centralized enterprise scheduling tool that the IT Ops team could use to monitor every process, no matter what it was running on, how often it ran, or what dependencies it needed.

Solution

When the company sought an enterprise scheduling tool, it naturally turned to Redwood, having used Redwood Reporting, originally called Report2Web, for nearly 20 years. Redwood Reporting distributes 4,000 reports a month for the company in real time to 730 users located across the country.

Throughout multiple spinoffs and acquisitions, Redwood Reporting remained in use because of its effectiveness and reliability for the company, said the IT Operations Manager. “When they got purchased, they kept it. And when they got spun off again, they still kept it, because it worked.”

While Redwood was the primary vendor the IT department researched for enterprise automation, it wasn’t the only one. After researching a half dozen other solutions, the company ultimately chose Redwood Business Process Automation for its cloud-native design, event-driven architecture, and excellent support.

The number one reason we went with Redwood was it is the only cross-platform scheduling solution that runs 100 percent in the cloud. Our long-term strategy is to leverage the cloud and minimize our on-prem infrastructure footprint for specific applications where it makes sense.” IT Operations Manager

Results

The Redwood orchestration and automation platform has virtually eliminated business interruptions and downtime, saved money, increased productivity, and become an integral part of this company’s IT strategy.

Eliminating business interruptions
The number one benefit the company sees from the Redwood orchestration and automation platform is that the IT Ops team is immediately notified about problems the moment they occur and can react and fix them before they ever impact the business.

Before, if something broke, nobody knew it, You would have to wait for software support to start their day and notice something failed. Maybe they’d fix it right away, maybe they couldn’t fix it until 11 o’clock. By that point, branches would be adversely affected. If the ERP is down, branches can’t place orders, can’t do receivables, can’t do anything. We have all but eliminated those interruptions.” – IT Operations Manager

He estimates the company has eliminated 120 business interruptions and associated productivity losses per year, saving $380,000 annually, nearly double the company’s pre-implementation estimate.

No downtime for upgrades
The IT team used to install all upgrades on their on-premises scheduling servers manually, causing downtime that also impacted productivity. With Redwood, upgrades happen quickly and painlessly.

“Upgrades are managed and communicated very, very well with Redwood,” said the IT Operations Manager. “We have not had any downtime because of upgrades that Redwood has done. They’re really seamless.”

In addition, the company uses Redwood automation to schedule server maintenance. In the past, they relied on a runbook to tell operators when to manually reboot servers, but now servers are rebooted automatically on a rotating schedule.

Implementation completed ahead of schedule and under budget
The company engaged Redwood Professional Services to help with its initial automation setup. A Redwood Professional Services implementation team member was on-site for a week of full-time training with the company’s IT staff. Then he stayed an additional three weeks to help the IT department gather all the different processes they needed to automate and define them in the tool. The remainder of the implementation was completed by IT staff and went live — ahead of schedule — only six weeks from the project start.

Of Redwood Professional Services, the IT Operations Manager said, “The project came in under budget and went really, really smoothly. I definitely recommend them.”

Integral to IT Operations
The IT Operations Manager emphasized that Redwood’s enterprise-wide orchestration, automation, and monitoring platform was the first key piece in the company’s overarching strategy to build out a centralized 24/7 IT Operations team. The visibility it gives the team means problems are solved when they occur, so delays don’t impact the business.

The Redwood automation dashboard also allows the IT department to self-document resolutions to every process. The IT resource who sets up any given process provides a reference guide that is automatically shown to the IT Ops team in case of failure. “We can now do a lot of things ourselves, which is a huge savings,” said the IT Operations Manager.

Now when things happen, our centralized IT Operations team, which is using the Redwood dashboard to monitor everything, will know right away if something just went red. They can then get the right people involved in the middle of the night. It’s resolved before the business even knows it.” IT Operations Manager

Onboarding Support

Redwood assigned a dedicated customer success manager who checked in weekly with the IT Operations Manager and the operations team for months after implementation. “Redwood very quickly adjusted and resolved every single issue we had,” said the IT Operations Manager.

The company is also taking advantage of Redwood University, a comprehensive, free curriculum for customers to get their staff trained and certified to best use the capabilities of Redwood’s automation solution.

The Bottom Line

Having a centralized orchestration and automation solution has reduced business impacts to virtually nil. This has saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in the two years since it implemented Redwood Business Process Automation.

Beyond that, Redwood has fundamentally changed how the company operates, acting as the catalyst for the company’s shift to a 24/7 IT Operations team that resolves problems before they ever have a chance to impact the business.

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