Automating the Mundane: IT Service Speeds Up at WesternU Health Sciences
Like many IT groups, the team at WesternU Health Sciences wanted to automate many mundane, repetitive IT tasks - and now they can without any coding skills by leveraging iPaaS for integration & automation work.
Western University of Health Sciences knew they had a talented IT department but was struggling to take advantage of that talent to provide quality IT experience for students, faculty, and patients. They were too busy trying to tackle problems or tech emergencies. To remedy this, WesternU is using a single platform approach with TeamDynamix to gain a 360 view of their resources and projects - allowing them to plan resources and provide a more effective customer experience.
We have a lot of very smart people who just do not have the time to be innovative... if we could free up some time for our technicians, we could rely on them to think outside the box and come up with ways to improve service.
Like many educational and health care institutions, Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) has a lot of highly capable IT employees. But prior to using TeamDynamix, these staff members weren’t able to use their knowledge effectively to deliver a better IT experience for students, faculty, or patients, because they were too busy fixing problems and responding to emergencies.
Putting IT Resources on Strategic Initiatives Instead of Mundane Tasks
“We’re very good at putting out fires, but we wanted to move toward fire prevention and be more proactive instead of reactive,” says Nic Hayes, lead technical analyst, and project manager for the university’s Oregon campus. “We have a lot of very smart people who just don’t have time to be innovative. We knew that if we could free up some time for our technicians, we could rely on them to think outside the box and come up with ways to improve service.”
Using one platform to manage both IT projects and service requests has enabled this shift to occur. This comprehensive, easy-to-use platform has allowed WesternU to automate many aspects of IT service management, while also empowering the university’s “customers” — students, faculty, and health care patients — to find their own answers to common IT questions. In turn, this more sophisticated approach to IT has enabled users to resolve their IT issues faster, while allowing IT employees to be more strategic in their work. “There has been a cultural shift here at WesternU, we’re now a more mature IT enterprise,” says Technical Support Manager Matthew Wright.
Automating routine tasks is one way that platform is helping the IT staff at WesternU become more efficient. Encouraging stakeholders to find their own answers to tech-related questions is another. “For the longest time, our primary channels for contacting tech support were via phone, email, and a homebrewed service catalog,” Wright says. “Now, with TeamDynamix, email is taking a back seat. We are pushing people toward our service portal for ticketing instead.”
The service portal includes a public-facing knowledge base of articles explaining how to complete various IT tasks, created using templates. “We don’t have enough people to answer the phones,” Wright says. “With our knowledge base, we’re helping people answer their own questions before they even get to a technician, which helps them resolve issues in a more timely manner.” If stakeholders can’t find the information they need to resolve an issue for themselves, they can fill out a customized form that is unique to each service category.
Custom Forms Gathering Specific User Details
“These forms allow us to collect the information we need without burdening the user by having them answer too many questions,” Wright says. “Based on automated workflows, the forms instantly direct the user to an appropriate technician.” “Having an externally facing knowledge base that can drive customer self-service has been a huge game-changer,” Wright avows. “It has removed some of the burdens from tech support staff, freeing them up to serve customers more effectively.”
Wright says his goal is to have everyone use the service portal to initiate a service request, eliminating email altogether. “That’s a hard habit to break,” he acknowledges. To encourage the use of the portal, IT staff gives frequent presentations showing stakeholders how to use it, and they’ve set up a scripted reply to emailed service requests directing users to the portal as well. “We do a good job of explaining its value to customers,” Hayes said. “We tell customers that using the service portal gives them a fast lane to having their IT issue resolved.”
For the longest time, our primary channels for contacting teach support were via phone, email, and a homebrewed service catalog. Now, with TeamDynamix, email is taking a back seat. We are pushing people toward our service portal for ticketing.
Focusing on the Customer Experience
With TeamDynamix, technicians now have more time to focus on how they can improve the IT experience for students, faculty, and patients alike. “The number of tickets that we’ve created is far greater than it was before,” Wright says, “because the ease of initiating a ticket has increased quite a bit — both from the technician’s standpoint and the customer’s standpoint. That has created a better experience for our customers.” As the platform continues to help the IT department become more mature, “we’d like to provide more one-on-one support to help educate users,” Wright notes, “like a Genius Bar experience for students.”
Enterprise Integration & Workflow with iPaaS
Going beyond ITSM, the team at WesternU wanted to improve enterprise integration and automation so they also have now brought on the TDX iPaaS platform. “Things like onboarding and off-boarding users and updating permissions involved a lot of manual, tedious work,” Wright says. “These things happen on a regular basis, and they take away time that could be used more strategically to improve our customers’ IT experience.”
With the new iPaaS platform in place, “we have been able to create internal automation that sets us up well for the future,” Hayes observes. Using the solution’s out-of-the-box connectors to common applications and systems, IT employees can easily automate IT processes without needing complex coding skills, creating true Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) functionality.
For instance, Enterprise Applications Administrator David Mitchell created an automated workflow to help with inventory control by connecting TDX iPaaS with their mobile device management (MDM) software. If an employee has a computer that hasn’t checked in within six months, Technical Support automatically receives a ticket that contains information about the device pulled from the MDM so they can follow up with the employee.
WesternU has also automated processes for updating inventory records when a device is rebuilt or repaired. “Small things that used to take 10 minutes here or five minutes there can save a lot of time when automated,” Hayes explains. “All of those minutes add up quickly. We’re excited about what iPaaS can do for us.”
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