How educational institutions can improve IT support

What can under-pressure education-IT organizations do to stay relevant, and to cope, in such a consumer-driven IT landscape?

In this white paper, discover 4 ways to improve your IT support:

Moving from contact via telephone calls to self-service capability: Done correctly it’s a win-win for IT & end users.
Benefiting from automation: Use of fit-for-purpose service desk/ITSM solution can help through process workflows, notifications, and knowledge reuse.
Outside IT: Educational institutions benefit from ITSM solutions outside of the IT dept, e.g. admissions office, libraries, legal, and more.

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How Educational Institutions  
Can Improve Their IT Support  
By Oded Moshe,  
VP Product at SysAid Technologies Ltd.  
Like most IT organizations in any sector, private or public,  
educational institutions are having to provide IT support  
to end users – students, faculty members, and other  
employees – in what is a classic “doing more with less”  
On the downside, the likes of BYOD, with the myriad of  
mobile devices and apps, and personal cloud services,  
potentially make IT support trickier. On the upside, the  
use of cloud service providers is a potential opportunity to  
both improve service and reduce costs – as long as cloud  
services can be easily managed and integrated into the  
existing IT ecosystem.  
However, it’s not just the new technology and its support that provide  
educational institutions with an IT support and service delivery challenge.  
The majority of end users are tech-savvy students, or staff members, who are  
potentially not only using the latest in personal technology but also:  
Use different ways of contacting and receiving services and support in their  
personal lives. For example: self-service and self-help, chat, social support  
including communities, and support via remote control.  
Have higher, consumer-world-driven expectations around IT services, IT  
support, and the overall service or customer experience. If they don’t like the  
services and/or service from a given supplier they just move to another.  
So the challenge of delivering IT today relates to so much more than the  
technology itself. More importantly, what can under-pressure education-IT  
organizations do to stay relevant, and to cope, in such a consumer-driven  
IT landscape?  
You might already have help desk technology. If you do, please bear with me.  
However, if you are still using email, spreadsheets, and a lot of manual effort to  
manage IT support, then fit-for-purpose technology can improve the efficiency  
and effectiveness of IT operations – raising end-user satisfaction and potentially  
reducing costs.  
Various options apply to technology adoption; these include:  
Operating your own help desk (and therefore invest in your own help  
desk software) vs. outsourcing the capability and thus the need for such  
technology. Both have their pros and cons – with the latter often cited as a  
cheaper option, but sadly “cheap” can be at the expense of the end-user  
experience. After all, how is a third party ever really going to understand your  
organization’s operations and your end users’ needs and wants?  
Using on-premise software vs. migrating your help desk to the cloud – the  
latter taking away the need to manage and host the application locally (so  
you can concentrate on supporting your end users), getting new capabilities  
more quickly (due to a more rapid software release cycle), securely  
accessing the solution from anywhere, and potentially reducing the total cost  
of ownership, including the ability to grow and shrink user number as needs  
and demand change.  
Operating a help desk vs. using ITIL to move to a service desk and possible  
other ITSM capabilities such as change management.  
Using the technology purely for IT vs. extending the help desk or ITSM  
solution to outside IT – the latter taking a campus-use approach to your  
technology investment and service provision, and supporting processes  
and people.  
Beyond the technology, and the process-based workflow and automation  
benefits, there are benefits to be reaped through a number of other ITSM best  
practices. I offer the following four:  
1. The IT service management (ITSM) best practice framework formerly known as the IT infrastructure library.  
Moving from Contact via Telephone  
Calls to a Self-Service Capability  
There’s a lot of interest and investment in end-user self-service right now,  
across all industry sectors. If done correctly it can be a win-win for both IT and  
end users:  
End users can use a self-service portal to log issues and service requests,  
reset passwords, or they can access a knowledge base (including FAQs)  
for self-help. It saves them time and gives them a better, consumer-like  
experience. Plus, of course, they can check on the progress of incident  
resolution or service request fulfillment without needing to call the service  
From an IT perspective, it takes some of the volume burden from the service  
desk – in terms of physically logging tickets, as well as the fact that many  
service desk tickets are avoided due to end-user self-help. Consequently,  
self-service should save IT money – especially when the adopted ITSM  
solution offers unlimited end users, thereby saving additional licensing costs.  
The proof is in SysAid’s customers’ successes, or more specifically a sample of  
them who elect to anonymously share their performance statistics with other  
customers, globally, via a facility we offer called IT Benchmark.  
5% Others  
24% Admin  
43% Email  
28% End-User Portal  
Source: SysAid IT Benchmark  
In terms of our customers’ use of self-service,  
and knowledge management in particular:  
28%, so just over a quarter, of tickets now come in via self-service. This of  
course doesn’t show how many potential tickets have been avoided by the  
use of the self-help capabilities.  
The top 500 customers (in terms of knowledge base use) have between 200  
and 8000 knowledge articles, with an average of 500 articles per customer.  
Customers can also share knowledge articles via our customer community.  
Amount of Articles  
> 2000  
How do our customers check the value of their FAQ knowledge articles to their  
end users? They can of course assess the number of views but they can also  
see the number of end-user votes just like with YouTube and other consumer  
technology – either thumbs up or thumbs down based on the article’s usefulness.  
Reducing the number of telephone contacts not only saves the service desk  
time, it also allows it greater flexibility to deal with incidents based on priority  
rather than in a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t forget though, modern IT  
support should cater for choice of access and communication across self-service,  
email, telephone, chat, and other social channels.  
Benefiting from Automation  
Most service desks are under-resourced and overworked, especially as we  
continue to see a greater reliance on technology, and thus they experience more  
IT issues. Education-IT teams are definitely not alone in this. The use of a fit-for-  
purpose service desk or ITSM solution can help through process workflows,  
notifications, and knowledge reuse.  
However, IT pros can go beyond this with the use of automatic routing rules  
that do specific things within the ITSM solution, “automagically,” based on the  
scenario and given variables. For example, our top 100 SysAid customers, with  
an average of 160 service desk agents and other IT users, have an average  
number of 150 routing rules each. Customers that have 10 to 20 IT staff members  
have an average of 13 routing rules.  
Also, don’t forget that automation, and the associated benefits, doesn’t need  
to stay within the ITSM solution – third-party technologies can be called up and  
executed to extend the power of automation.  
Look for the  
SysAid Barcode app  
in the App Store  
ITSM can get overly complicated, often through the best of intentions. Overly  
complex ticket classification hierarchies is a great example – our customers,  
on average, have a total of 205 categories, defined across three levels but,  
again on average, only 34 categories are actually in use. The rationalization of  
ticket categories can save time during ticket logging and make management  
reporting easier.  
On average, customers have a total of 205 categories defined in three levels:  
BUT, on average, only 34 categories were actually in use for the past 30 days:  
barcode asset management app to make the logging of asset details,  
including asset moves, and the auditing of asset data easier. Plus it doesn’t  
have to just be for IT assets – you can use the same technology for facilities’  
assets, such as tables, chairs, or portable electronic whiteboards.  
Outside IT  
While ITSM solutions were originally created to support IT pros in the delivery  
and support of IT services, many customers – especially educational institutions  
now use them outside of IT. Example campus non-IT use cases include, but are  
not limited to, managing the services of:  
The admissions office  
The alumni office  
Faculty services  
Medical centers  
Research departments  
Shared services such as facilities, finance, and HR  
Why shouldn’t all internal service providers benefit from a fit-for-purpose service  
management solution and best practice processes for handling issues, requests,  
and changes?  
So how could you improve both IT and non-IT  
support and service delivery?  
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