The Journey to Team Excellence: Optum


by Team HDI
March 28, 2018

Optum won the HDI 2018 Team Excellence Award.
Learn more!

Optum is a division of UnitedHealth Group, Inc., locatedOptum in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. It is one of two major UnitedHealth Group businesses. UnitedHealthcare is focused on health benefits, and Optum is focused on health services. Optum is a leader in the information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to modernizing the system and improving the health of people and communities As a diversified enterprise with distinct but complementary capabilities, the company’s mission is to focus on helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone.

Optum’s End User Technology Services (EUTS) is comprised of 1,193 employees across the globe serving 250,000 employees 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. EUTS services more than 350,000 calls per month with a first call resolution rate of more than 70%. EUTS employees have been recognized by 432 different departments with 7,578 Bravo awards so far this year!

Describe the challenges you faced.

Due to the wide array of services provided to our customers and the fact that we have a global presence, EUTS is faced with challenges daily. We in EUTS believe in what George C. Patton said, “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” What sets us apart from most large IT organizations is the fact that we respond to challenges together. Although we have functional teams with subject matter experts identified, all EUTS teams work together toward the common goal of making healthcare better for everyone.

Although we have functional teams with subject matter experts identified, all teams work together.
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Warm Transfer. Warm Transfer was an idea born out of a desire to shorten the duration of time from when a customer first reports their issue to when they are in direct communication with the person who ultimately can help them. To facilitate this process, Delivery Operations created what could essentially be a second-level service desk. Rather than create an incident and assign it to a workgroup, if the incident is a high priority (e.g., the client can’t work), the Service Center gives the customer the option of being directly transferred to Delivery Operations analysts who are staffing a telephone queue. These analysts take ownership of the call and work the customer’s problem immediately.

Culturally it was also a challenge, as the Delivery Operations analysts were not used to being in a telephone queue. Some felt that it pulled them away from hands-on work; however, once they began seeing customer feedback, most quickly embraced the new approach. Our customers were thrilled with the new experience!

Common Inventory. Over the past 18 months, Delivery Operations has moved almost exclusively to a common inventory to support our customers in the United States. Prior to this transition, most of our local sites across the country held inventory locally, which not only made it difficult to track chain of custody of data bearing devices, but also resulted in a large amount of devices in inventory, many of which were sitting idle and unused. As a result, we made a process change to move the majority of inactive devices to our National Fulfillment Center (NFC). This was a challenge because many processes needed to be updated and new automation created.

Some business groups had very specialized needs, making this transition very challenging. For example, one business had a legal requirement for devices to have a DOD wipe performed on them before being redeployed to a new user. Another business group had a need for a special backup to be run on their devices when returned to the NFC prior to repair or redeployment. The need to identify these devices upon receipt at the NFC resulted in brainstorming between our IT Asset Management (ITAM) team and Delivery Operations. As the National Fulfillment Center (NFC) became extremely efficient in hardware asset management, it became clear that it would be beneficial to have them expand their focus beyond workstations and IP phones. The NFC took over the fulfillment, inventory management, and break-fix replacement of all mobile devices, Work-At-Home Kits (router/modem), and thin clients, as well as designing an entirely new process to install SIM cards into Gobi devices.

Moving to a common model has had significant financial results. Rather than having business-specific stack of devices all managed separately, we now move all inventory into a common pool that allows us to redistribute assets to areas that need them. Since all of the equipment is housed at the fulfillment center, we have a specialized team that does repair and refurbishment on returned equipment. Typically, we fulfill orders with refurbished equipment almost 50% of the time, so the business does not have to purchase new machines. Over the course of a year, that equates to a savings of more than $21.5 million dollars.

This process enables us to be more effective at forecasting future needs, resulting in better control over how many devices are purchased and how much inventory needs to be kept on hand. This process has been so effective we are examining ways to expand it to other types of products, as well as into regional fulfillment centers at other global locations.

Highlight any innovations you introduced to help overcome the challenges.

Warm Transfer. The challenge was in building a process that identifies the type of calls that qualify for a warm transfer. EUTS Development worked with both Delivery Operations and the Technical Service Center to build a tool right into the knowledge management system. If the TSC analyst checks the knowledge, it tells them immediately if the call would qualify for warm transfer and lets them know in what queue to place the call.

Common Inventory. The ultimate solution was the creation of a special project code housed in the back-end asset management database where a device can be flagged and an enhancement to our Check-In Tool to alert the NFC Receiving Team that the device scanned requires special handling. This change allows us not only to save government fines by performing the DOD wipes but also save hundreds of thousands of dollars on lost assessments that may not have been fully uploaded by our nurse practitioners. This had the significant downstream impact of reducing the inconvenience to their patients since the loss of data would result in the nurse revisiting the patient and asking the same questions, possibly delaying treatment.

Taking ownership of these processes involved detailed planning sessions with all teams involved, gathering requirements for enhancements to internal tools such as “Shipping Center,” the development work itself, testing, process mapping, and documentation updates. As Andrew Carnegie said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”


HDI is the first professional association created for the service and support industry. Since its founding in 1989, HDI has remained the source for professional development by offering resources to promote organization-wide success through exceptional customer service. We do this by facilitating collaboration and networking, hosting acclaimed conferences and events, producing renowned publications and research, and certifying and training thousands of professionals each year. At 150,000 people strong, HDI is a community built by industry peers and leaders that gives its members the resources, knowledge, and drive to be great at what they do.


Tag(s): supportworld, support center, service management, workforce enablement, technology, metrics and measurements, desktop support, customer experience, hdi conference

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