Units within the University of Iowa Division of Student Life rely on technology support year round, but especially during busy times like the fall, when thousands of students move into the residence halls, or over the summer, when IT staff work to refresh computers and other hardware before students return.
Responding to those peak workload periods became a bit more manageable during the 2014–15 academic year, when the Division of Student Life adopted the new OneIT shared service model for end-user support. The change means IT experts are now part of a larger team of IT support professionals who help each other meet the needs of customers—especially during periods of high demand.
Now, using the OneIT shared service model, University Housing and Dining technology users contact the Information Technology Services Help Desk when they have IT questions, which has helped ensure a quick response on busy days. In the first year, the help desk was able to triage 64 percent of the 300 issues and questions University Housing and Dining tech users had.
“Having more hands on deck when we really need them has been a big benefit to us,” says Brandon Mills, IT Director for University Housing and Dining. “Now when there’s a large amount of work that needs to be accomplished in a certain time period, or if we have a staff member out sick, others can jump in and help. On the flip side, when things are slow for us, the IT staff who normally focus on housing and dining can lend a hand where things are busier.”
The OneIT End User Support (EUS) Project focuses on three areas: desktop support, device management, and service-desk unification. The goal of the project is to increase the efficiency of IT support across campus by implementing the new shared service model while maintaining or improving the quality of service for customers.
“The EUS project team believes this project will allow end-user support to be delivered more efficiently by leveraging common processes and tools while maintaining existing levels of service,” says IT Director Tracy Scott, who leads the project along with Senior IT Director Lance Bolton and Project Manager Mike Frangi. “Our overall goal is to free up time for support consultants in the colleges and administrative units to provide more specialized support to faculty, staff, and researchers in their respective units.”
Mills says adopting the OneIT EUS model has helped ensure that his department is aligned with campuswide best practices, including following procedures and standards for IT procurement, operating system and software upgrades, and desktop and help desk support.
University Housing and Dining is just one of 14 units that has transitioned to the OneIT shared service model for end-user support; the model serves about 3,000 technology users across campus.
The project team is taking a unit-by-unit approach to complete implementation of OneIT projects, including end-user support. This work is currently underway with the Tippie College of Business and UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
As part of the unit-by-unit approach to implementation, each unit is surveyed about the current state of its information technology support and infrastructure. After that information is collected, the team identifies and discusses what can be standardized and what is differentiated, determines necessary technology and process changes, finds ways to adapt services, and identifies and plans for any changes to job duties or staff transfers, if needed. Project teams work closely with IT leaders in each unit to determine next steps and the best timing to begin the transition.
So far, Mills says, the change has been relatively smooth for University Housing and Dining.
“There is some culture change as we gradually try to guide people down a path of making the first point of contact the ITS Help Desk,” Mills says. “There was some initial skepticism, but overall, customers have responded positively to the change.”
“In many cases the timeliness of support has gotten better because the Extended Technical Support staff has the ability to ask for additional feet on the ground when needed and the ability to pull from a large knowledge base of a like-minded team that works on and solves similar problems,” Mills says.
For additional successes and milestones of the OneIT End User Support Project, visit the OneIT Year in Review.