Highlights for Children

Quick Wins for IT

  • Implemented Cherwell Service Management in only four weeks
  • Built a Human Resources solution on top of the Cherwell platform 
  • Transformed IT into a customer-centric organization
  • Implemented Asset Management
Highlights for Children

The Business Challenge

Highlights for Children, Inc. was founded in 1946 with the belief "that children are the world’s most important people." Since its inception, the organization has been dedicated to helping children “become their best selves and become confident, caring, curious, and creative individuals." Today, the Highlights for Children, Inc. family of companies includes educational publishers who publish textbooks and offer educational seminars for teachers, as well as a consumer division that publishes books, digital products, and four magazines for children ages 0-12. The flagship magazine is Highlights for Children, well known for its mission, "Fun with a Purpose."


In 2013, Highlights for Children turned to Gartner, Forrester, and InfoTech Research Group in a quest to find an ITSM solution that would help them transform the IT department into a more efficient, customer-oriented service management organization. "We needed to switch from the ‘old guard’ to being customer centric and customer focused. Our customers have other options, and they can go elsewhere," said Bob Huffman, director of IT service management.

"Our previous solution provided ticketing, reports, and marginal metrics, but that was it. We needed a tool that really empowered us and let us automate so that instead of focusing on paperwork, we could resolve customers’ problems and present information back to customers and techs that helped them do their job better."

The Cherwell Service Management Solution

The Cherwell® Service Management platform was implemented in a SaaS environment, going live in less than a month. "The implementation was very fast," according to Huffman. "In four weeks, we learned the system, set up admins, completed the LDAP and active directory migration, and implemented Incident Management and Service Requests." Problem Management was implemented out-of-the-box soon thereafter. Additionally, all configuration items (CIs) were reviewed, cleaned up, and input into Cherwell Service Management as part of the Asset Management implementation. Lacking a good Change Management process in their current environment, Highlights for Children also implemented Cherwell's robust Change Management module, making some modifications to the standard configuration to match their processes.

Additionally, the IT department leveraged internal resources to configure within Cherwell Service Management a solution for the corporate compliance department to automate the control, monitor, and audit of contract employee accounts and the annual IT policy review and acknowledgment process required of all employees. Huffman said, "Cherwel’s capabilities seem to never end. It’s powerful and easy—so easy that an intern with no training was able to pick it up."

"We knew our budget wouldn’t accommodate paying for a developer and consultant every time we needed a new function. We needed a tool we could configure and grow ourselves."

Bob Huffman - Director of IT Service Management

The Results

By dedicating internal resources to configuring Cherwell Service Management, Highlights for Children saved thousands of dollars in development costs with more pending savings as solutions for other departments are added in response to business needs. "The Cherwell Service Management platform exceeded our expectations. We simply don’t have a large consulting budget, and we knew our budget wouldn’t accommodate paying for a developer and consultant every time we needed a new function,” revealed Huffman. "We needed a tool we could configure and grow ourselves."

Also, Cherwell's automation functionality was key to increasing efficiency and improving customer centricity. Using One-Step™ automation (think macros in Excel), the organization was able to simplify and expedite repetitive tasks. For example, the IT team now sends standard notifications to customers when specific field criteria are met. Even simple but powerful enhancements, like having the ability to transfer the customer’s information from one tech to another, have improved customer experiences as customers often became frustrated repeating the same information to multiple people.

The Future

The self-service portal implementation is another critical component with "go-live" planned by the end of the year. The portal enables customers to submit and track tickets, create documents, and search knowledge. Additionally, IT will develop a solution by year end that enables the facilities department to manage work orders, track and schedule maintenance, and track supplies. Also on the horizon is a display of IT dashboards in a common area. Cherwell Service Management will pull metrics from Service Portfolio and other IT tools to present the department’s KPIs.