Help Desk Groups Serve as Forward Scouts for the Formation of Enterprise Technology & Services

April 21, 2020

by Enterprise Technology & Services Staff

Teams from across the University of New Hampshire System (USNH) have started meeting as the new Enterprise Technology & Services (ET&S) begins to take shape. New service lines within ET&S will integrate existing services across all USNH campuses, including Keene State College (KSC), Granite State College (GSC), Plymouth State University (PSU), the University of New Hampshire (UNH), UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law, and UNH Manchester.  

Help desk services is one of the initial areas being addressed, and UNH/USNH CIO Bill Poirier gathered service desk leaders from each campus in November to form one of the first service line teams. This working group meets every other week, now via Zoom, reviewing roles, responsibilities, and technology resources. 

PSU’s JoAnn Guilmett is the newly minted ET&S Help Desk service line leader. She said the goal of the group is to “leverage the existing help desk staff on each campus and incorporate their unique talents and skills for the benefit of USNH.”

She added that the effort is not focused on consolidation, but instead the formation of a new, USNH-wide team – “to elevate the service offerings and to improve our service metrics.”

Ultimately, the new service line will provide better services for students, faculty, and staff, said Steven Cramton, help desk manager at Plymouth State and a member of the working group. “We really have a big focus goal of looking at safety, improving performance, and then also constraining administrative costs while we're doing this.”

The list of challenges for the team is long, as the campuses use different technology applications, such as learning management systems and call-tracking software. This makes it hard to share data. 

Elise Morrisette, service desk leader at Keene State College, said at times it feels like the group “can only do so much because some of the service offerings themselves really need to align.”

Sean Embree, who wears many hats in his role as IT manager at UNHM, said it’s been eye-opening.

“There are so many tools out there, and barely any of them are shared across all the institutions,” he said. But, he added, “there's a lot of room for improvement as well.” 

Program maturity can be another challenge, said Katie Ellis, service desk leader at UNH, but learning from each other’s experiences will be an asset. For example, while PSU employs a large number of student workers, the UNH IT service desk is relatively new to students performing meaningful roles.

“I’m hoping we go straight to the good things (PSU does) and miss some of the trials and tribulations that they've already gone through,” Ellis said.

Donna Bordeleau is another wearer of multiple hats as the technical support manager at Granite State College. She views this unification as a positive in terms of resources and knowledge sharing.

“We don't have a huge knowledge base (at GSC), so to be able to use other people's documentation has been very helpful,” she said.

This help desk group will continue to meet in the coming months. Members of the group noted that meeting together face-to-face and establishing trust has been an important part of the process – a process other service line groups soon will face.

“I think it was really important for us to be able to meet in person early on,” Embree said. “I feel like I have a personal connection with everybody on the group where I don't know if I would feel that way if our first kickoff meeting was virtual.”

Morisette agreed. “One of the pieces that have been established with this team that is really foundational to the work that we're going to do moving forward is that there's so much trust, there's so much trust in our expertise. Our skills as leaders, as technical support folks, and that ultimately we're all doing this line of work for the same reason.”

Guilmett said one of the group’s first tasks is to “select a single unified ticketing system which will help align our operating norms and standards while ensuring that face-to-face support remains consistent on our local campuses.”

The deadline to choose this system is early August.

“The timeline to do this is aggressive, and it would have been even without the additional layer of COVID-19,” Guilmett said. “The Coronavirus has made it even more critical that our  help desks be united and aligned to meet the needs of the campuses – in order to ensure that institutional and instructional continuity remain at the forefront of the services we offer.”

 

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