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Success story

Unified IT Service Management for One of the World’s Leading Universities

Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge consists of 31 colleges and 100 academic departments. Gaining one of the cherished 20,000 student places is the reserve of the extremely academic. Once students have gained their coveted place, they have access to 10,000 academic and admin staff to support their studies. Equally important to the modern-day Cambridge learning experience is having constant access from any internet device to digitally enabled infrastructure services.

Consolidating service desks

In 2015, two independent IT support divisions each running their own separate service desk merged into one University Information Services (UIS) department with 300 staff. Their remit — to provide cohesive IT support to the University’s 20,000 end users that conforms to ITIL best practices, with expansion capabilities to 65,000 accounts for support staff, alumni, visiting researchers, students and those with multiple IT users.

Given the size of the environment and the disparate nature of former IT helpdesks, the opportunity to merge and modernize could not have arrived too soon. Both service desk systems leveraged entirely different software, both classified all queries as incidents, and both offered limited ticketing capabilities with no metrics for reporting. With no linkage possible between the systems, tickets were lost, staff and student confidence plummeted, and complaints were frequent. The situation escalated at the start of each academic year as new students arrived and inbound queries peaked.

Steve Hoensch, head of frontline services, UIS, knew that the new department’s service delivery ambitions would only be fulfilled with a service management solution available centrally in the cloud. Once established, this infrastructure solution would assist not just IT, but would also help automate processes across Estates, HR, Finance, and Operations. Hoensch recalls how decisions to deployment were made:

“We had taken the previous service desk systems as far as we could. Not only were they incompatible, they were falling out of hardware support, which left us vulnerable and unable to Band-Aid the systems any further. It was apparent that with the new UIS department framework, we needed to offer a single portal solution for future centralized services that would give us the unified structure to work efficiently and cohesively, and provide reporting so that we can understand and improve on the student’s digital experience.”

University of Oxford mentors on their service management from the cloud

Five vendors were invited to present their solutions directly to the new UIS group before reducing the shortlist to two. Before the final decision was taken, the Services team spent two days on-site consulting their peers at University of Oxford, gaining valuable insights into how they had made similar decisions three years prior when the University of Oxford had opted for Ivanti Service Manager to combine three independent service desks.

With striking similarities between both universities’ requirements, Cambridge was able to immerse themselves with the platform and explore the customization approaches that Oxford adopted. Armed with insight and peer recommendations, UIS commenced rollout with a phased approach to include migration and merger from existing support desks to full incident, request, self-service, and knowledge base rollout. Sixty departments were included in the first migration phase. The complexity of merging so many different departments was eased by using the software’s workflow designer tool to drag, drop, trial and build workflows that could flex and change before and during deployment.

Incident management was the first process to roll out. Given the former systems were devoid of all metrics and all inbound tickets were frequently lost between departments, complaints and dissatisfaction were the only prior measurement index. Using Ivanti incident management, UIS for the first time had access to accurate first-time fix rates. They were able to correctly classify incidents, requests, and problems, and gain a better understanding of the types of calls. This in turn allowed them to allocate the best support resources from the 15-person first-line call team more effectively.

Automated self-service to go

For the ITSM request module in Phase 2 of rollout, the system featured 30 automated service requests, including popular requests such as "password reset" or "increase mailbox size." Today, UIS continues adding further requests configurations and envisions a total of 100 automated requests, including drop downs for specifying new laptops, attaching approvals and POs, and providing requester status feedback.

The self-service module means that requests are submitted seamlessly via any device onto the portal for simplified student experience. On access, relevant planned maintenance and software updates are highlighted so that students can self-assure without contacting UIS. The module also highlights communal problems, such as "Connectivity problem in the Chemistry Department." If there is still an issue, users can self-serve and log tickets. When they have identified their issue from a dropdown, they can opt to connect to a knowledge base of articles written by Service Managers who suggest easy fixes to common problems, such as "My printer is broken." The knowledge base features a variety of levels to accommodate all technical abilities. At all times, users can track their service requests for updates. UIS hopes to increase self-service usage to around 25% of all inbound tickets.

Ongoing positive results

With 12 months of rollout and with increasing confidence and acceptance of user self-service, UIS reflects on the significant achievements that the deployment has afforded. Hoensch notes:

“This deployment wasn’t just about unifying old ticketing helpdesks. This was about providing ITIL-based processes and results metrics while deploying across IT and other departments. From the outset, we understood that we had differing levels of ITIL maturity across the university, so we have used the features within Ivanti Service Manager to simplify and enable custom roles, layouts, and workflows according to the requirements of those using them.”

Cross-departmental satisfaction

The results are not just limited to IT. Hoensch has garnered internal reactions on usage from HR and Finance. Hoensch shares the HR departmental feedback: “HR have found that moving from a simple system to Ivanti has improved their efficacy, being able to share tasks and tickets with IT. Using the same system means jobs are completed faster without spanning across multiple systems and productivity gains will be increased further still as more complicated HR procedures are turned into service requests over the next few months.”

Hoensch also shares feedback from Finance after a month of usage: “The transition in Finance has been simple, due to the customization of the tool. It is now easy for us to share tickets directly and view the process of each job, which was previously not an option. In total, we are aiming to create around 400 service requests to support the finance procedures and processes.”

Note: A customer’s results are specific to its total environment/experience, of which Ivanti is a part. Individual results may vary based on each customer’s unique environment.


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