University of Southern Queensland Expands Its Ivanti Solutions Portfolio to Enable Greater Remote Working During COVID-19
- As COVID-19 unfolded, USQ quickly provided faculty and administrative staff working remotely a portal to access Knowledge articles, FAQs, and other key information all in one place.
- Before the mad rush of staff leaving with their devices to work from home, USQ quickly installed the Ivanti agent on 2,600 devices with help from Ivanti partner Fusion 5..
- Going live in April 2017, Ivanti Service Manager in the cloud is also now an enterprise service management tool. Virtually every department has a form in USQ’s dedicated staff knowledgebase—HR, Facilities, Legal, Faculty, Student Service teams, Marketing teams, and more.
Ask Naomi Lutvey what it’s like working at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Toowoomba, Australia and her genuine reply will be “Fantastic!” Naomi has worked at USQ for 25 years and currently serves as its Director of Client Services for ICT Services within the Enterprise Services Division.
Situated west of Brisbane about 1.5 hours by car, Toowoomba is nicknamed “The Garden City”, with a population of around 137,000. USQ has three campuses: the main Toowoomba campus and two other sites in the cities of Ipswich and Springfield, respectively.
“Toowoomba isn’t a large city, and our university is considered a regional institution, enrolling approximately 26,000 students,” Naomi says. “We are primarily a distance-education provider, with around 75% of our students attending online. We were one of the first institutions in Australia to provide distance education, and the majority of our degrees can be completed via online study. It’s been our bread and butter for a very long time, so we’re pretty good at delivering online content now.”
Students of More Mature Age
Naomi explains that USQ attracts students of more mature age due to the flexibility of online learning. Students can study at night after the kids have gone to bed. In addition, many students of mature years who never thought they could attend university are doing so via a number of Pathway Programs. USQ also offers people opportunities to “upskill” through four-week Short Courses.
“Our Short Courses have been attractive, particularly for people who have found themselves out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Naomi says. “We’ve done a lot of work around the ‘upskill’ effort, creating the opportunity for people to undertake study to not only give them something to do while they’re unemployed, but to help boost their self-confidence and enhance their resume.”
She adds, “I love graduation time because you see the moms and dads attending graduation with their little kids. The effort involved with working full-time, raising a family, and taking six years to complete their degree part-time—how awesome is that? It’s pretty amazing.”
“I love graduation time because you see the moms and dads attending graduation with their little kids. The effort involved with working full-time, raising a family, and taking six years to complete their degree part-time—how awesome is that? It’s pretty amazing.”
A Full Plate of IT Responsibilities
With the help of Ivanti partner, Fusion 5, ICT went live with Ivanti® Service Manager in the cloud in April 2017, upgrading from HEAT Classic, to help deal with an increasingly full plate of IT support tasks. Naomi and her staff of 60 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) professionals are heavily involved with the customer side of the service experience, looking after the service desk, information management, reporting, training, relationship management, and collaboration.
ICT also employs students in Student Support Assistant roles who function as Student Relationship Officers (SROs). In fact, earlier this year these support services were combined with the library and other areas of the University under the “iConnect” umbrella to provide front-end or T1 support for all student inquiries offered through these SROs.
“Our SROs receive considerable training and acquire the skills to answer Tier 1-type inquiries—for example, items pertaining to our learning environment, how to reset a password, how to set up a wireless connection—so that not everything needs to funnel through the service desk,” Naomi says.
COVID-19, Remote Working, and the Need for Knowledge Articles
Ivanti Service Manager in the cloud was put to the test most recently in the face of COVID-19, which lead to university employees needing to work remotely.
“When COVID-19 unfolded, we were asked to support some other areas of the University by quickly providing faculty and administrative staff a portal to access Knowledge articles, FAQs, and other information all in one place,” Naomi says. “We also helped create a service form to track staff requests to work from home. Back in January we started trialing certain areas to move off campus to see if the technology would work and whether staff would be able to keep up with their workload. We were fairly certain things were going to escalate.”
By March, as Naomi says, “things had gone pear shaped. We had created the needed forms so that pretty much every staff member at USQ, apart from a very, very small number, could work from home. We could report back to the executives on how many people would be working from home and where, which USQ assets and any other peripheral devices they were taking with them—all sorts of things.”
Patching Remote Devices Made Easy After Rapid Deployment of Endpoint Management
Another challenge in the midst of the pandemic was the need to patch, configure, and maintain devices remotely, which in turn called for the use of the Ivanti Endpoint Manager—a solution USQ didn’t have as yet.
Naomi explains, “So we reached out to our Ivanti partner, Fusion 5, so that we could at least have around 2,600 devices of staff reporting back before the mad rush of staff leaving for home with their devices. We didn’t need to manage them yet—but needed the agent out there so we could start pushing out patches via Endpoint Manager.”
“In one way,” she says, “COVID-19 was the best thing that happened to us because it allowed us to move ahead very, very quickly and demonstrate the reasons why we wanted to manage remote devices without staff needing to be connected to a VPN.”
“In one way, COVID-19 was the best thing that happened to us,” Naomi says, “because it allowed us to move ahead very, very quickly and demonstrate the reasons why we wanted to manage remote devices without staff needing to be connected to a VPN.”
ELA: Ivanti’s Flexible Software Licensing Vehicle
Naomi adds, “We’ve since signed an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA). But the support from Fusion 5 and Ivanti that helped us get the agent out within two weeks was just phenomenal. We would have been in a pickle otherwise.”
The Ivanti ELA is a flexible software licensing vehicle. It enables customers to take advantage of Ivanti’s full portfolio to unify their IT and deploy solutions that match their business initiatives—without spinning up a new procurement cycle or worrying about where to find budget for each initiative.
Concerning this “full portfolio”, Naomi says software license management has been a challenge. “As you can imagine, we get a lot of tickets for requests for software applications, so with the purchase of a full ELA we’re working out our plan of attack for integrating Ivanti Service Manager with asset management, automation, and endpoint management capabilities.
“That means when a customer requests a piece of software in our catalog, they’ll be able to hit ‘request’, it will go to their supervisor or whomever for approval, and it will get installed whether they’re on campus or not, because we’re using Ivanti. We won’t touch it. That’s where we’re going, and I cannot wait until we get to that point.”
Flexible, Configurable Service Management Automates Processes Across University Departments
When asked if there’s something about Ivanti Service Manager that Naomi wasn’t expecting, she replies, “It’s configurable. I can’t emphasize that enough. There is no coding—it’s all configuration. And the flexibility which that has allowed us is enormous. The Ivanti Service Manager instances are now essentially an enterprise service management tool. Virtually every department in the University now has a form in our dedicated staff knowledgebase—HR, Facilities, Legal, Faculty, Student Service teams, Marketing teams, etc.”
Naomi says she received a letter of support from the executive manager of one of the University’s faculty areas that capsulized why faculty love the tool so much:
- Provides consistency in services provided; all staff follow the same process and receive the same information.
- It reduces manual processes and increases the ability to enforce guidelines and approval processes.
- Ability to store process documentation in the Knowledge Center.
- The chances of things going missing in someone’s personal email inbox are gone.
- Oh, wow! This does this, and I can do all these things now and I can report all this information. I can keep track of what my staff are doing. I know how much workload they’ve got and whether we need to add additional resources to that team.
According to Naomi, this all came about organically. “Yeah, it was definitely organic. We didn’t do any sales pitch or something we were seeking purposely. People came to us saying, ‘Wow, I really like your tool; it looks really good. Can we have access to that and get a form?’ and we replied, ‘Sure, you can. What do you need?’ And I think that’s probably what’s made it work—the fact that we’ve never said no.”
“People came to us saying, ‘Wow, I really like your tool; it looks really good. Can we have access to that and get a form?’ and we replied, ‘Sure, you can. What do you need?’ And I think that’s probably what’s made it work—the fact that we’ve never said no.”
When asked what she would say about Ivanti Service Manager to an organization looking for a new ITSM tool, Naomi replies, “I would say definitely give it a go. It’s awesome. We’ve been very, very happy and the support we’ve received has been great. I can’t wait until we get our full Ivanti ELA implemented with all the modules. The response from the various University departments tells us it’s obvious this is where things needed to go. It’s gone above and beyond what we ever thought it would be.”
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