Things here at SysAid are gearing up as we put the finishing touches on the Beta version of our newest release, SysAid 6.5. As we fine-tune many of its new features, I'm struck by the fact that so much of SysAid 6.5 reflects the feedback of SysAiders worldwide. Your input inspires many of our developments, so in SysAid 6.5, you may just recognize your own ideas in SysAid's new capabilities.
For a small taste of what's to come on October 19, we're happy to provide you with a screenshot sneak preview of SysAid 6.5. We've developed almost 90 new features, including two brand new modules. With innovative tools and functionalities offered by no other software, SysAid 6.5 is truly unique!
Starting October 19, you also have the opportunity to try SysAid Beta 6.5 for yourself. With the SysAid Pathfinder Program, you can see every new release first and give us the feedback that helps us make SysAid even better. SysAid Pathfinders form a unique group of tech innovators that help forge the future course of SysAid - and have a pretty good time as they do it. Read this month's Pathfinder story on veteran SysAider Jonathan Purvis to see why being a Pathfinder is worth your while.
I would also like to remind you that in November, we are offering our next course of the SysAid Certification Program. Featuring techniques and methods to maximize your use of SysAid, the November course is also your chance to explore SysAid 6.5 in depth. We're currently offering a special early bird price for the November course, but don't wait to register - the promotion ends on October 12!
With almost 90 new features, SysAid 6.5 is one of the most impressive SysAid releases we've ever developed! While we don't want to entirely ruin the surprise of the Beta release on October 19, here is a sneak preview of some of what you'll be able to enjoy in SysAid 6.5.
You asked for it, you got it! Inspired by user feedback, SysAid Chat is a brand-new module that offers a new way for administrators and end-users to communicate. Even better, the Chat Module is included for free in every edition of SysAid.
Completely integrated with the rest of SysAid, SysAid Chat provides an impressive new interface for administrators to work with: the Chat Console.
With the Chat Console, admins can:
Initiate chat conversations with end-users
View queues of end-users that have initiated chats
View the end-user's entire service history including personal details, open and closed service requests, chat location, and previous chat conversations
Transfer chat conversations to other pre-defined queues - Sales, Human Resources, whatever you decide
End-users can initiate chat conversations with admins via the End-User Portal as well as from external websites. Communicating about service requests - and resolving issues - has never been so easy.
Innovation never stops here at SysAid. In Release 6.5, we are excited to introduce you to a new landmark module: IT Benchmark. This measurement tool is completely unique to SysAid!
With the IT Benchmark, you can achieve IT success by using concrete facts and numbers to evaluate your activities. You can then set new monthly goals accordingly and gain a global perspective of where you can improve.
The IT benchmark provides dynamic measurements of your IT department's activities, including:
Ratio of administrators to end-users
The average resolution time of service requests
The average number of service requests closed per administrator
These statistics provide important insights into your IT performance. To further evaluate the status of your department's operations, a local measurement history chart displays activity trends over the previous 60 days.
And most excitingly: ever wondered how your IT department performs in comparison to others? Innovative distribution charts display the activity statistics of SysAiders worldwide, and a flag indicator lets you know where you stand in relation to the international average.
Welcome to the next generation of IT management!
New and Improved Interface
SysAid debuts a new facelift! The new and improved interface makes SysAid even more intuitive and easy to use.
Among almost 90 innovative features, some other SysAid 6.5 highlights include:
You can now extract key license information from Microsoft Office
You can set reminder notifications about your assets, catalog items, software products, suppliers, CI's, and Projects and Tasks. Never again forget about the expiration of your software licenses!
And finally, a quick reminder: in preparation for the new release, make sure your support account is still valid. To check, try to log in to the SysAid helpdesk. When SysAid 6.5 is officially released in November, you'll be able to upgrade immediately and get started!
The SysAid Pathfinder Program
Jonathan Purvis, SysAid Visionary
As we gear up for the release of SysAid 6.5, Pathfinders around the world are beginning to buzz with anticipation of what's to come. These attentive Beta testers provide input that directly influences the new features and functionalities of SysAid. Jonathan Purvis, a veteran Pathfinder, is one such innovator. With every new release, Jonathan has discovered the implementation of features he personally requested and reviewed. Armed with a passion for tech development, a good sense of humor, and a festive Irish brogue, Jonathan provides an inspiring example of how Pathfinders can truly make a difference.
DMG Group, Dublin
Make a real impact
"SysAid is the only application I've used where you can directly tell the development team, 'I want this to happen' - and it happens. You can sit down at Word and think about the functions you'd like to see, but there's no chance that you'll be able to directly influence what Microsoft develops. The SysAid team has always been very responsive to my feedback and input, and that motivates me to continue as a Pathfinder. I'm always excited to see what comes next - and how I can help."
Stay Two Steps Ahead
"I quite enjoy doing the Beta testing. Every time there's a new feature, we implement it immediately to see how it works. In Release 6.0, we got started right way with the SNMP Discovery agent for all our printers and other machines. That's why we like the Pathfinder program - we see how we can make the new features work for us."
The Features You've Requested, Realized
"The Out-of-Office Notification feature was something I really wanted to see, so I strongly pushed for it. When it was released, I was excited to see that the SysAid team had listened to what I suggested. Sometimes the features I suggest are small - clarifying the functions of the 'OK' or 'Cancel' buttons, for example - but it's always fun to be a part of the experience. When you see that your input has been implemented, you feel like you're making a difference."
Contribute to the IT Community Worldwide
"Being a Pathfinder is for the benefit of everyone. If there are enough Pathfinders that give SysAid feedback about the Beta release, it makes the software even better than it already is."
The next SysAid Certification Program begins November 23, 2009! In 8 two-hour webinars, learn how to maximize your use of SysAid 6.5 with real case studies, practical exercises, and personalized feedback. Get advice from SysAid technical experts, and master the techniques that help you get the most out of SysAid's features and capabilities. Earn a diploma to show off your SysAid expertise!
"We have been using SysAid for about two years and I thought we really understood most of its features, but this class has been a real eye opener! I am gaining a much better understanding of how the system works as well as how it could help our IT Department be more productive. I would recommend this training to anyone using the SysAid program."
Robert J. Phillips
City of Garden City
SysAid Certificate graduate
Establishing a SysAid Culture in the Age of Accountability
Like many IT professionals, Shawn Kostiuk's experience in IT began as a hobby that developed into a fulltime career. As the Network Coordinator of Good Spirit School Division, Shawn has succeeded in providing the teachers and students of East Central Saskatchewan with reliable technical support. With over a dozen different information systems, the Good Spirit School Division depends on an IT infrastructure that can provide immediate solutions for the schools throughout the region. For Shawn, providing this support depends on an effective collaboration method and a strong sense of accountability - what he calls "a culture of SysAid."
Good Spirit School Division
What IT issues are unique to the Good Spirit School Division?
In 2006, the Provincial Government consolidated the number of school divisions in Saskatchewan, and the Good Spirit School Division was formed. We now have 28 schools located throughout East Central Saskatchewan, so remote support is critical for the 2,200 machines and 6,500 users we serve.
Before implementing SysAid, what were your main IT issues?
When the Good Spirit School Division was formed, we took stock of what each of the legacy school divisions had. We found that we have eight different workstation images, six types of workstations, and a host of laptops that required support. Additionally, we have six different Student Information Systems including paper-based systems, and six Library Information Systems, including card catalogues.
Before SysAid, our IT department relied on email only. This created silos of information instead of collaborative and usable data. Furthermore, as the IT staff moved on to other jobs, their IT knowledge went with them.
How did you first discover SysAid?
We were searching for a product that would assist us in tracking the calls we were receiving. South-East Cornerstone School Division gave us a very favorable recommendation of SysAid. We tested it very thoroughly before purchasing and found that while other products had similar features, SysAid was very competitive, and is always releasing new features.
How has SysAid helped you?
SysAid allows Tech Services to provide better service and evaluate how we were able to achieve the results that we did. In the age of accountability, it shows that we are indeed demonstrating accountability to our organization. In addition, SysAid has provided the IT staff with an effective collaboration method. With the Helpdesk module, most IT issues are resolved within minutes as opposed to hours. Furthermore, we now have the records that provide insight into both our users and machines.
What feedback have you received from your administrators and end-users about SysAid?
Our Network Technicians like SysAid because they can see who has taken what steps to resolve an issue. Our end-users really appreciate the quick response that we are able to provide. The speed of resolution is especially critical when a teacher's lesson is interrupted by an IT glitch. We need to move quickly and decisively so that our staff members can continue with their lesson plans. SysAid allows us to do that very efficiently.
What future plans do you have for the Good Spirit School Division IT department?
We will soon be rolling out the SysAid agent so that we have a better grasp of what is installed on each particular machine. This will also enhance our remote control abilities. With a number of upcoming projects this year, we will also begin utilizing the Project Module more.
On a personal note, how do you think your colleagues would describe you?
Most people would say that I am a steadying influence as things change in the Good Spirit School Division's IT infrastructure. I tend to be more of a Picard than a Kirk, if you get my meaning.
What are Yorkton and the rest of the Good Spirit School Division like?
There is a saying about Yorkton - it is a place where good things happen. Hockey in the winter is huge in this area - we have SJHL teams in Yorkton and Melville. In fact, a number of NHL players (past and present) come from communities in the Good Spirit School Division! The many lakes provide good summer fun whether you hike, bike, swim, fish or just soak up the sun. Activities abound in all our communities and schools in every season.
Could you be next SysAider of the Month?
Only one way to find out! Simply fill in our quick 2-minute Application Form, for your chance to win a sensational SysAid prizes and more.
Award categories include: SysAid Moderator, Community Contributor, Loyal SysAider, Internal Promoter and SysAid Evangelist. Don't miss out!
Know your Knowledgebase
Add these useful tips to your local SysAid Knowledgebase
You've deployed SysAid Agents throughout your network, and you now have control over all your hardware, software, licenses, printers, routers, and other network elements. What's the next step? Making sure that your asset inventory stays up-to-date.
Here are two easy ways you can keep your asset inventory updated:
Schedule a task for asset updates
Under Preferences --> Asset Settings --> Asset Updates, you can schedule automatic updates of your asset inventory according to the frequency you set.
Make sure you are running the most updated version of the SysAid Agent
We are constantly upgrading our agents so that they can collect more information from your assets. You can schedule an automatic upgrade of your agents in the same menu as above by choosing "Upgrade client version."
Staying up-to-date on your asset inventory will soon be even easier! In SysAid 6.5, enhancements to Remote Discovery services will help you better manage deployment of the SysAid Agent. You will be able to install the Remote Discovery tool in remote locations, where the SysAid Agent will then be deployed. This is very useful for deployment behind firewalls and other security settings. All task management of the Remote Discovery services will be accessible under the Network Discovery tool of the Asset Management Module.
For more important tips and information to add to your SysAid Knowledgebase, Visit the Knowledgebase forum in the Community. Feel free share your ideas, too! If we publish it, we'll send you a cool SysAid notebook!
A Tip for Managing and Tracking your Reserve Assets
From Sarah Lahav, Head of SysAid Customer Service and Support
Managing your assets is essential to the successful operation of your IT department. A key aspect of effective asset management is gathering and maintaining a detailed inventory of your network items. SysAid offers several ways for you to track and account for your operating, reserve, and out-of-service assets.
The SysAid Agent is a powerful tool that gathers and maintains an up-to-date inventory, but it can only deploy to machines that are connected to your network. Your inventory of course also consists of reserve machines that cannot be detected by the SysAid Agent. To account for your reserve machines, you must enter the asset information manually.
When entering the asset information manually, it is absolutely essential that you record the serial number and manufacturer information. (You can find this information on the invoice you receive; you don't even have to open the box.) Why is this so important?
When you put these reserve machines into operation, the SysAid Agent will automatically deploy. If you have already entered a specific asset's serial number and manufacturer information, the Agent will recognize this asset as an existing one and will only add information to the line you've created. If you haven't entered this information, the Agent will assume that this is a new asset, and you will have duplicate lines.
You can also effectively track your reserve assets by taking advantage of the Available Columns in the Customize List menu (available in SysAid Full Edition only.) In these customizable columns, you can create Reserve, Operating, and Out of Service statuses so you can quickly view the defined status of each asset.
In the upcoming release of SysAid 6.5, creating an asset inventory will be even easier. The deployment tool will be accessible in the web browser as an integrated part of SysAid, so you won't have to download anything!
SysAid Poll of the Month:
What is your target level of availability?
One of the IT department's greatest responsibilities is providing high levels of availability. After all, users expect their systems to be ready and working at all times, and any downtime is generally met less than enthusiastically. While it is often possible to plan downtime and minimize business impacts, even the best of IT departments experiences power outages, system failures, or severed network connections. Luckily, you can measure availability and prevent the expected with the SysAid Monitoring Module's powerful monitoring capabilities! So what's your goal?
In your 24/7 critical systems, what is your target level of availability? (Not including scheduled downtime.)Take our poll and let us know!
As it turns out, SysAiders are a pretty green group! With the practical approach that a 100% reduction is probably not possible, 58% still believe that their organizations can drastically cut down on the amount of paper used around the office. Another 22% believe that some kind of reduction is possible. While 13% of SysAiders don't believe that it's possible, an enthusiastic 7% of SysAiders are committed to going 100% paperless. We at SysAid have a particular connection to green as both a color and a concept. Here's to going green!