CIS3008 – Information technology service management 19
Case Study: Northern Sydney Institute
Presented by Paul Paterson TAFE NSW at itSMF Tasmania Branch Seminar 2009 (used with permission of author)
This case study examines customer self service within the NSW, Northern Sydney Region, TAFE Institute. As a Service Desk with no inbound phone number, the only means for customers to log a call is via a web based self-service form.
How this was achieved, what were the drivers and has it succeeded?
The NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) delivers high quality education and training services from early childhood education through to post-compulsory education and training to meet the needs of more than 1.25 million students. DET issues over 140,000 group certificates annually to a workforce of predominately teachers, public servants and ancillary staff. This equates to 95,000 full-time equivalent employees. DET is the largest single organisation, public or private, in Australia. With a recurrent budget of around $10 billion and an asset base of about $17 billion, DET is responsible for almost one quarter of the State?s total recurrent budget.
DET is made up of ten regions which divide the state into self managed networks. The regions are supported by a shared corporate service which includes Finance & Administration, Human Resources, Infrastructure & Assets, and Information & Communications Technology.
TAFE NSW is an entity within DET which delivers vocational education and training (VET) to around 500,000 students throughout some 131 colleges organised into the regions. TAFE NSW has a recurrent budget of around $1.5 billion and an asset base of some $2.6 billion.
One of the ten regions “Northern Sydney” is typically made up of a TAFE Institute and Schools. Northern Sydney schools service over 80,000 students who attend 170 schools in the area extending from Sydney Harbour in the south to the Hawkesbury in the north; from the Pacific Ocean in the east to Meadowbank, Castle Hill, Dural, Annangrove and Kenthurst in the west and north-west.
Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE (NSI) is a Quality Endorsed Training Organisation certified under ISO 9001:2000 international standards. In 2003 NSI became only the second TAFE institute in Australia to achieve ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) certification.
NSI represents around 12% of the total effort for TAFE NSW. The Institute offers over 1,000 courses to more than 50,000 local and international students annually. These courses are delivered at colleges based at Bradfield, Crows Nest, Hornsby, Meadowbank, North Sydney, Northern Beaches and Ryde. Off-shore operations include partner colleges in Bangkok, Shanghai, Schenzhen and Songjiang. In all, 2,700 full-time and part-time staff deliver close to 13 million student hours per year. The Institute has an annual budget of more than $130 million and an asset base of around $370 million.
NSI has over 130 specialist and standard IT classrooms which have a minimum of 16 desktops in each. In addition there are as many non-standard classrooms or speciality facilities such as libraries. NSI facilities are in use from 8:00am to10:00pm weekdays and most weekends. To allow 24 x 7 portal access most systems are kept up 99.9%. In all, over 4,200 desktops/laptops with over 100 servers and countless printers and peripheral devices make up the IT fleet in NSI.
1,500 of the desktops/laptops are designated to teaching and admin staff which are also heavily utilised.
So how does NSI provide Service Desk support for such a large, highly demanding, organisation? Simple, it does not have one! At least not in a traditional sense of a phone number for clients to call. NSI is the ONLY institute in NSW which DOES NOT HAVE a help desk, in that there are no people on the end of a phone to vet, diagnose, log, resolve where possible and assign incidents. Yes, NSI relies solely on the client logging their own incidents via a web interface to the service desk application. The astounding thing is that this “no phone” policy has been in place for several years.
The culture of self service is entrenched.
The scenarios that created this environment were vexed, the most critical were:-CIS3008 – Information technology service management 20
? Our clients, mainly teachers, are on deck for many hours a day, way beyond the capacity to staff a help desk phone line for 14 hours a day.
? Access to networked PCs and therefore the web are plentiful (if yours is broken the one next door is probably OK)
? ICT Support staff are disbursed across the seven colleges. Management at the time believed it was a negative to reduce their “hands on” capacity in order to take phone calls.
? The clients? IT skills were deemed to be “mature” therefore peer support was encouraged.
? Internal restructures had forced cuts to ICT support staff therefore providing drivers for this rationalisation.
? Support organisations today face many similar business challenges as they strive to effectively service their internal and external customers, regardless of their size or industry. In the face of these challenges, customer service managers may find themselves searching for new technology to address their customer service initiatives.
Business Challenge for NSI
The Service Desk was/is under constant pressure to reduce costs and improve service delivered to end users. Many of the calls to the service desk were not critical in nature, but requests such as password re¬sets and account access, limited our support staff?s ability to focus on critical incidents and restore vital services to the business.
? Provide end users self-service for more than just service desk incidents
? Reduce the time and cost associated with phone support
? Empower end users to enter and check all types of requests
? Enable end users to resolve incidents on their own.
An “in-house” help desk application built using „Cold Fusion? software was implemented about 10 years ago. End users could submit, track and re-open incidents. End users can access frequently asked questions (FAQs) to resolve issues on their own, albeit on a separate web page to the help desk.
Key Features & Benefits
? Reduces the cost of support by offering self-service capabilities to end users
? Improves end user experience
? Improves the value of support staff by freeing up their time to pursue strategic initiatives
? Reduces call volume by extending knowledge management to end users
So what does all this mean? Has NSI got it right? Can others learn from NSI?s lessons and mistakes?
Self-service is emerging as a tool of choice for consumers and organisations alike. Increasing numbers of people are now selecting self-service options, such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR), e-mail, Web, and chat, as their primary means of contact with organisations providing services, and a greater number of forward-thinking organisations are increasing the emphasis they place on self-service and adopting additional customer contact channels. Organisations that are not at the forefront of self-service processes and technologies are, at best, missing opportunities for greater cost savings and improved customer satisfaction. So why did NSI choose to reduce their channels of communication by removing the phone?
The number of Internet users has grown to 700 million and still expanding at a phenomenal rate. The demand of selfservice portals is also increasing, more and more users want interactive self-service websites to reduce the time and effort of consuming a service. This case study highlights the emergence of a customer self-service portal, its benefits, pitfalls and more. The service desk is where ITIL can really shine. In ITIL, the service desk function performs a number of critical tasks.
To say it is simply the traditional help desk renamed does not do the service desk justice. In many respects, the serviceCIS3008 – Information technology service management 21 desks role as the single point of contact is one of the most important facets because the service desk personnel are customer facing. In other words, the professionalism, communication skills and overall attitudes of service desk personnel will reflect upon the entire IT organisation and serve as the measure by which all of IT will be judged. In terms of benefits the service desk brings, this case study explores its role as the single point of contact between ICT and its customers.
For the purposes of this case study, let?s label the people contacting the service desk as “clients” for simplicity whereas ITIL differentiates between the users of services and the customers who actually pay for the services.
Having explained that nuance, clients should not be forced to try and contact various numbers, email addresses and/or websites for assistance. First off, with incidents they are already frustrated because they can?t do their jobs and calling all over again, in vain, will only make matters worse.
Second, we, as an organisation, wanted these people working, not wasting time trying to get help because any time spent on efforts other than helping the organisation attain its goals is time irrevocably lost.
Instead, by consolidating the point of contact to one website, the ambiguity over whom to contact when some event happens, or need arises, is removed. By having one point of contact, callers can immediately reach a representative, answer the necessary questions to populate the incident or service request and then go back to work.
This is very important because we need them to be productive in their roles so they can move the organization towards its goals in order for ICT to have a reason to exist.
This isn?t a one-sided benefit. For ICT, there are very real benefits as well. For example, ICT personnel are no longer
haphazardlyinterrupted by callers needing help or ambushed while walking down the corridor. Anytime someone is working and interrupted, there are switching costs associated with them changing trains of thought from one task, to the new task and then attempting to get back into the “groove” of the old task. If ICT can?t account for activity and reflect the value it adds to the organisation relative to its costs, then ICT risks being outsourced or downsized. Many business people do not realize that by skipping the service desk, they are ultimately causing long-term harm to the organisation. In addition to the accounting costs, there are economic opportunity costs.
The ICT resource that takes a call or assists a caller will likely need to stop doing their assigned work in order to help.
As a result, planned work stops. Again, it is much better to have the client self-service the incident, the system then follows the established rules on selecting the correct ICT resource to use.
A risk with the old fashioned way of receiving phone calls was in the accounting and economic cost impacts in that a caller may leave voicemails and emails to many ICT personnel resulting in redundant responses from ICT that waste resources. From an accounting cost perspective, clients may be using ICT?s most expensive resources vs. using designated personnel because of relationships, simply going down the ICT phone list looking at titles, etc. When the users need help, unless there is a coordinating influence, they will call whomever they think can help. Instead, if they self-service the incident can then be properly routed based on skills required, resource availability, defined service level agreements, etc.
ICT must understand its costs and value-add to the organisation at all times. If callers are bypassing the formal recording mechanisms and going straight to their favourite resources, or resources at random, unrecorded and untracked activity takes place.
Traditionally by using a service desk to log and filter calls, matching can be performed to see if the incident record is already in the system, what the status of the incident is and so on. Once the initial call is logged, clients often want status updates and then may begin a new flurry of calls further interrupting personnel. Instead of this, the service desk can keep the customer and/or user informed both proactively and reactively.
A proactive approach, whether by phone or email, by the ICT Service desk can reap rewards as well. Clients just want to know that their needs are being addressed.
From a reactive perspective, clients wanting status updates should look up the service desk. The intent, as with other issues brought up previously, is to shield the rest of ICT from the interruptions and to place the ownership of ensuring the caller is taken care on the service desk.CIS3008 – Information technology service management 22 The case for a phone line
Moreover, the service desk personnel must be professionals who are skilled empathetic communicators, which are capabilities that not all ICT people have. Again, people will judge all of ICT by the experiences they have when talking to the individuals who help them. Choose your service desk people with care.
Lastly, by routing clients through the service desk, the service desk can track all open unresolved service request and incidents, determine if they are being resolved on a timely basis, escalating if needed and so on.
No longer does a call “fall through the cracks” because a desktop services technician is out sick, on vacation, too buried with other work and so on. Because the incident or service request is being actively monitored by the service desk, there is an assurance to the client and management that agreed upon service levels will be met.
In summary, there are many benefits both to this business and ICT by focusing all user contact, both incoming and outbound, through the service desk. By doing so, the proper resources can be used to make sure that needs are met on a timely, effective, efficient and economical basis.
UTS self service desk: https://servicedesk.uts.edu.au/CAisd/pdmweb.exe
The self service desk Uni of Lechester UK: http://www.le.ac.uk/its/help/sshd.html
NSW Department of Health: http://www.mhcs.health.nsw.gov.au/index.html
The Techrepublic: http://www.techrepublic.com/whitepapers
BMC Service Desk Express Client Services: http://documents.bmc.com/products/documents/12/43/91243/91243.pdf
Dell: “The Benefits of a Single Point of Contact” August 10, 2006 by George Spafford:
ITIL® is a registered trademark of the Cabinet Office.
This assignment specifically addresses four of the learning objectives of the course:
• LO1: demonstrate a critical awareness of the importance of IT service management and the need for organisations to ensure that effective processes are in place to manage the significant investment in IT infrastructure
• LO2: demonstrate an awareness of the nature and contribution of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and ISO/IEC 20000 in providing good practice frameworks for IT service management
• LO3: demonstrate the capacity to comprehend and evaluate the objectives, activities and associated roles and responsibilities to enable effective planning, management and improvement of IT service processes.
• LO4: apply the international standard for IT service management to case studies including the IT service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement.
Students are encouraged to work in teams to complete the assignment as teamwork is an important skill required by industry. You may choose to work alone. If you opt to work as a team, the same marks will be awarded to both students. No team can exceed more than two students. It is up to you to find a team-mate and this can usually be achieved through a request on the Study Desk.
Submit only one assignment if you elect to work as a team to complete this assignment. Note that marks will be awarded on the basis of the student name(s) and student number(s) that appear in the file name and in the report introduction.
Read the North Sydney Institute (NSI) Case Study.
Assume the role of consultant(s) who have been hired by the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) to contribute to a review IT Service Management at NSI. You will prepare a report for Ms Pam Christie, Managing Director of TAFE NSW and Deputy Director-General, TAFE and Community Education.
Refer to the marking criteria for details of mark allocations.
Note: the word count does not include letter of transmittal, executive summary, references or appendices.
USQ has a licence for Turnitin software. This online software enables students to check their assignment prior to submission. Details on accessing Turnitin including user identification and passwords will be provided on the Study Desk for the course. I encourage all students to use this facility to avoid allegations of academic misconduct from unintentional plagiarism from internet sources.
Referencing requirements for assignment 3
References are required and the Harvard AGPS standard of referencing must be used. This standard is detailed in the Faculty of Business Communications skills handbook, available electronically on UConnect Library Site, and available in most academic libraries. Plagiarism, collusion and cheating will be severely penalised. Refer to the Faculty of Business and Law Policy for further details about plagiarism, collusion and cheating.
Ensure that your reports are fully referenced, including any reference to the text book. AVOID PLAGIARISM – YOUR ASSIGNMENT WILL BE AWARDED ZERO MARKS if it does not have in-text references AND a List of References at the end.
AVOID COLLUSION AND CHEATING – THE PENALTIES ARE SEVERE.
Another useful link on referencing is from USQ’s Library site:
Do not repeat verbatim large slabs of information from other sources such as the text – you must put the ideas/information in your own words.
Activity A: Journal (maximum 500 words) 10%
Prepare a journal which records your activities and progress related to completing this assignment.
In date order, clearly list the following:
• Date of research activity/discussion
• Web sites visited to collect information; other references accessed
• Time duration of the activity.
Submit this journal as an appendix to activity B. Any references to web pages and online documents, such as white papers, should be listed at the end of the journal.
Activity B: Case study (maximum 3,500 words) 90%
Structure, presentation and introduction 10%
Your report should include a letter of transmittal, executive summary and introduction to the report. State the name(s) of student(s).
Part 1. Importance of ITSM at NSI 20%
Explain why is it important for NSI to have effective processes in place to manage IT services.
Part 2. Service Design 30%
In the current design model of IT service provision at NSI, the service desk function is provided in-house by TAFE employees. Consider the option of outsourcing the service desk. Discuss the roles and responsibilities associated with IT support and the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing the service desk.
Part 3. ISO/IEC 20000 Certification 20%
NSI is certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 and is now considering ISO/IEC 20000 certification. Ms Christie has asked you to advise on the decision. Provide a brief of why NSI should or should not seek certification for ISO/IEC 20000. Identify the benefits and drawbacks of certification.
Part 4. Conclusions and Recommendations to Managing Director 10%
Provide a summary of your findings and make recommendations to the MD.
The assignment must be electronically submitted through UConnect CIS3008 Study Desk.