As manager of the Extended Technical Support (ETS) Team in the University of Iowa’s Information and Technology Services—Enterprise Services, Shawn Potter always looks for ways to free up ETS professional staff to spend time on tasks that are key to the department’s mission.
And, thanks to the OneIT End User Support Project (EUS), which focuses on increasing the efficiency of end-user support by implementing the new service model, he’s been able to do just that.
As part of the project, individual units across campus adopt the OneIT end user support model for help desk, device management, and desktop support. The goal is to maintain and improve the quality of IT service for campus units, while also freeing up time for professional IT staff to focus on other tasks that are unique and critical to the unit, in support of teaching, research, and service.
Under the old model, a college or department might have had only one or two IT contacts embedded in their unit to help with IT needs. But under the end user support model, customers have one email alias that connects them with a group of IT professionals nearby who have a broad range of expertise.
One example of where the end user support project already is saving professional staff time and improving service is in Jessup Hall, where student employees in the Extended Technical Support group have taken the lead on time consuming tasks, such as receiving equipment, entering it into inventory, and installing software on devices (imaging) before they’re delivered to each department.
Before students took on this work, an individual IT professional would be responsible for receiving, taking inventory, and imaging machines for their entire department, which also meant finding storage room for new devices and finding time to image new machines in addition to providing other IT duties like technical support and consulting with faculty and staff.
“The new model has freed up staff time quite a bit,” says Potter. “Before, if a member of the IT staff in an individual unit had 40 machines show up, they would have to image all of them, and if you’re only set up to do one or two machines at a time, it takes a long time to get through 40 machines.”
Because the student team is now focused on these tasks, they’re able to guide each machine through the imaging process to make sure it is completed in a timely manner. The students are also set up to image 32 machines at a time, meaning they could process 100 computers a day, if needed.
“This process is getting the equipment to end users faster and the IT staff assigned to specific units isn’t spending any time on it, so the hours they would spend on imaging they can now dedicate to doing other things that are more directly impacting the end user,” Potter says.
More than a dozen units, most recently including the College of Pharmacy and the College of Nursing, have transitioned to this model and are already benefitting from the OneIT imaging service.
Potter says this already has proven successful in places like Hancher Auditorium, where Senior IT Support Consultant Reese Reimers played a key role in assisting with IT decisions during the building’s reconstruction.
“They didn’t initially have an official IT support contact, but a lot of technical support questions were coming up as the building was constructed, so it became clear they needed someone from our staff who knew what questions to ask,” says Potter. “Thanks to the EUS model, we had the flexibility to dedicate a member of our professional staff to that project.”
Reimers was able to step in at a critical point in the construction process to help identify solutions to issues with wireless hot spots, and other IT questions as they arose.
“There were quite a few things they had to do differently to better align with the university’s goals from a technology standpoint,” Reimers says. “That consisted of things like getting them to use departmental shared drives, updating workstations, and successfully moving them from their temporary space in Seashore to their new home in the Hancher building.”
Reimers also took on larger projects, which included setting up digital signs in Hancher so their graphic designer could remotely log in and update graphics as opposed to using printed posters and other projects.
“One of the key benefits of the EUS partnership in this case is that if something breaks in the middle of a show and needs to be fixed urgently, they aren’t just getting me as support, but an entire extended technical support team,” says Reimers. “It’s one of the major benefits for Hancher now that they’re using the EUS model for support.”
As technology continues to evolve, Chuck Swanson, executive director of Hancher, says his team is looking forward to continuing their partnership with OneIT to keep current with changes and continue to provide professional service of the highest quality.
“Commissioning and opening a new performing arts center is a very complex task, and Reese provided support for our staff that helped to ensure a successful opening,” says Swanson. “The continued support from the OneIT team will be vital as we look forward to presenting some of the world’s finest artists in our Hancher seasons.”