Streamlining IT support

Students expect universities to harness the power of technology to save them time, effort and stress. So talk to them, says Hannah Price

Streamlining IT support means something different for every institution. Perhaps it’s improving the efficiency of the service desk by empowering students and staff with self-service, or enhancing cross-departmental collaboration to create cohesive services, or even just updating behind-the-scenes processes.

Regardless of the end goal, institutions always have the same question when it comes to developing their IT support: where do we start?

Keele University’s quest for unified services

For Keele University, streamlining meant unifying. Their IT support team had been using service management solution TOPdesk for seven years and realised that the key to bringing together their institution, and enhancing their offering, was through a shared-services solution.

Sandra Gillham, who originally implemented the software at Keele University, explained: “Student records were the first department to use it after IT. A student had gone back and forth to both the student records office and IT because he didn’t have an IT account, repeatedly walking between the two buildings. For me, this wasn’t acceptable, so I used this case to encourage the roll-out to student records.”

After successfully onboarding student records, the solution then grew organically across the university, eventually becoming the software of choice for 19 different departments: “This meant that students got their information much quicker thanks to cross-departmental working.”

Aston University’s simplified support

Elsewhere, at Aston University, self-service was recognised as the key to streamlining processes. By providing users with plentiful options when it comes to self-serving, troubleshooting, and asking questions, the institution hoped to free-up the valuable time of their operators and, therefore, improve efficiency in service delivery.

Aston have been able to provide self-serve capabilities by implementing an accessible, comprehensive and coherent portal in their TOPdesk environment that users can log on to.

Stephen Colden, IT support manager, said: “Through the Solve (self-service) portal we are able to rapidly publish solutions and guides to help our users. By making information readily available we can provide answers quickly and consistently with minimal operator time. Our goal is to continue providing quality information, access to services and news via the portal to drive continued change in our user behaviour.

Where do we start?

The above case studies demonstrate the power of enhancing IT support services for both the user and the service desk. And each example began with an institution identifying what streamlining means to them – that’s where we start.

We could pinpoint this by getting out on campus and speaking to users about their struggles: Sandra recognised where Keele could improve because of a direct user experience. Or we could examine and report on the current efficiency of the service desk to find areas of weakness, like Stephen, recognising that he could find time for Aston’s operators by empowering his user base with self-service.

Once the area for streamlining is chosen, realising the power of technology is the next step to helping us achieve our goals. This is how Keele University and Aston University’s aspirations became a reality.

Hannah Price is a service management consultant and agile coach at TOPdesk

You might also like: Julian Lee: Should you outsource your IT provision?

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