University of Memphis Brings Support and Service To Campus with Enterprise Service Management Technology

By Ruben j. Franzen, president, TOPdesk US.

Ruben J. Franzen
Ruben Franzen

With only 115 people working as part of the central IT and technology support teams, the University of Memphis requires careful management to provide the highest level of support to its substantial customer base.

Sue Hull-Toye leads the public-facing operations of the division. Until recently, her teams relied upon several disconnected systems to perform ticket tracking, case review, user support, and data collection.  The result was a clunky process that provided little benefit to students or employees.

The situation required change.

Taking on the multitude of disparate technologies

Before changing solutions, the university employed multiple disparate, and somewhat ineffective, technologies cobbled together to power the service desk.

By attempting to integrate multiple, unrelated tools, IT actually outsmarted itself and created barriers of complexity. “We invested heavily in technology and further modified what we had,” says Hull-Toye. “We built a Swiss watch when a sundial would have been adequate,” said Robert Johnson, associate CIO, “and doing so created as much of an internal burden as it was supposed to solve.”

Moreover, the university’s service desk team worked much harder than necessary, especially on tasks that should have been simple – all because of the solutions employed to manage them. “We spent too much money and time ‘solving’ some problems while inadvertently creating more problems than we solved,” explains Hull-Toye.

Johnson said that the most demanding challenges received the least attention because of the work required to manage these tasks, tickets, and assets across multiple systems.

Data reporting suffered tremendously.

When the university’s CIO asked IT directors to review current information about ticket management, service requests, and response rates, they discovered correlated, traceable data was hard to come by.

Modest investment in a scalable solution

The university’s IT leadership sought a sleek, easy-to-use 1capable technology that, in a best-case, could scale across the entire campus. TOPdesk emerged as the leader.

The University of Memphis team selected TOPdesk, in part, because the solution is easy to integrate across multiple departments and the campus.

“The decision was swayed by the value that TOPdesk represents, in terms of what one is able to do with a relatively modest investment of time and effort and in the deal, getting integrations across multiple areas,” said Hull-Toye.

The university layered on top of its incident management, project management, change management, and asset management.

Implementing one service management solution across the university

University IT leaders initially intended for TOPdesk to be used only by the IT department. Based on the solution’s ease of use and power to collect data, report and encourage self-service capabilities, they encouraged using TOPdesk across several other areas of the campus.

The human resources department became particularly impressed with the solutions’ capabilities, using TOPdesk when a caller needs help with a simple information issue. Enrollment services departments use TOPdesk to serve remote students who are not regularly on the campus.

After the University of Memphis’ previous complex multi-tool solution, the last thing the school needed was another overly complicated system because complexity increases cost. “Good software like TOPdesk makes it less expensive to maintain good processes and gather good data, independently of the initial cost. And, the real value of quality software is the degree to which it disappears into the background as you work with it,” Johnson said.

The solution provides access to useable data. With data, the university’s service desk can track the number of calls, the number of times an incident is touched before it’s resolved, the number of events resolved without the need for assistance from a help desk staff member, and how self-service reduces help requests.

And product integration is a breeze, Johnson said.

Creating a culture of ease of use

Because of the university’s enterprise service management solution, the university’s culture is changing, too.

“After many years in IT, I am hard to surprise. One of the pleasant things that I discovered with TOPdesk, is how easily we can maintain conversations among the IT staff about something highly technical, and interact with the user in a non-technical way in the same interface. That is not easy to do in other tools I’ve used because it requires either two different forms, or windows, or whatever the IT staff uses to talk to each other without overwhelming the user,” Johnson said.

Johnson said his team values the rewards of the new solution. “It fits together so well that I can either take assets and track them across to changes, take assets, and relate them to incidents and users and projects. I also can open up the system to some of our monitoring software, it’s the way it seems to fit, and it’s meant to fit with other things.”

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