The local authority’s ICT Services team is using Supportworks to make best use of technical resources while improving customer service.
East Sussex County Council (ESCC) provides services to nearly 232,000 households; these range from providing social care for vulnerable adults and children to transport and waste management. The council also promotes East Sussex to businesses and visitors.
The county is mostly rural (including part of the South Downs National Park) but includes larger urban areas such as Eastbourne and Hastings. The in-house ICT Services team is constantly looking at ways to improve efficiency through the best use of IT. As part of this continuous improvement, effective IT service management is critical.
ESCC’s ICT Services team supports 5,000+ users across several business departments, with five hub sites, a data centre and multiple lines of business applications, plus core IT services including email, internet, WAN/LAN, telephony, etc. A separate team supports ICT in the county’s schools.
The team therefore has to deal with high volumes of varied service requests, intensified by current infrastructure transformations such as migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. In an average month there are over 9,000 contacts and almost 7,000 new jobs, handled by a team of just 15 including first- and second-line support, admin and access management.
To make processes as efficient as possible, the team began moving towards an ITIL culture around 2012, but found improvements were constrained by its existing ITSM solution. An imminent upgrade was not affordable, partly because of customisations.
In 2013 the Council decided to go out to tender for a new solution. Requirements included improved ways of working, with workflow automation; improved customer focus, with a dedicated customer portal; and support for continued improvement of service management processes.
The team selected Supportworks after seeing demonstrations of leading products. Features that distinguished Supportworks were its user-friendly self-service capabilities and the opportunity for better process automation using the graphical business management tool. Other advantages included robustness and reliability, to which existing users at nearby local authorities testified.
Supportworks was implemented by an in-house team of technicians and managers including service desk representatives, with help from a Hornbill consultant. The solution went live in October 2014.
Supportworks is used by 150+ people within ICT services. The service desk uses it to log all incidents and requests received by phone and email, while analysts and other technicians manage their work with features like workflow. End-users county-wide are actively encouraged to use the self-service portal. Users can access the system at any time via either the full client or the web client, from mobile devices if required. Technicians and end-users alike report that the solution is much easier to use than its predecessor.
User-friendly self-service portal
The portal provides a one-stop shop enabling users to raise requests and review their progress, as well as accessing a knowledgebase and a growing body of other self-help material, which will further cut down on calls to the service desk. A shortcut to the portal has been put on all users’ PC desktops.
The percentage of calls received via self-service doubled from 17% with the old system to 34% with Supportworks in just three months. The self-service process collects all the necessary information, removing the need for follow-up calls. Supportworks’ workflow then routes the requests to the appropriate analyst, bypassing the service desk (with the previous solution self-service calls had to be processed by the service desk).
The team’s goal is now to get all requests logged via the portal, so that the service desk can concentrate on managing incidents.
More and better information
The team has gained the ability to schedule a range of reports that are helping to monitor and improve performance, and to detect and tackle recurrent problems. For example, after implementing Citrix the team identified that there were repeated reports of slow logins. These were flagged up to the infrastructure team who rapidly implemented improvements.
The service desk team is keen to collect customer feedback in order to keep improving the service, but before the move to Supportworks it received feedback on only 2-3% of calls. Three months after Supportworks the proportion had increased dramatically to 19% – and around 92% of that feedback is positive.
The previous tool was extensively customised, which made upgrades and maintenance difficult and expensive. Determined to avoid this pitfall, the team encouraged users to find ways to work with Supportworks’ capabilities, on the basis that the processes already reflect best practice.
Representatives of all key processes had been involved in the selection process and implementation, which encouraged
their colleagues to embrace the new processes.
To keep customisation to a minimum this time, the Council has taken advantage of Supportworks’ configurability. Key staff have been trained to configure the solution, so that the team can continue to fine-tune it – or restore configuration after upgrades – without the need for consultancy.
The result is highly maintainable, and annual maintenance costs have reduced by 50%.
Scalability and adaptability to support future plans
As the ICT Services team’s processes mature, the tool can scale and adapt. The team sees opportunities to activate more ITIL processes such as asset, problem and knowledge management, and to add further self-service processes.
Longer term, other back-office functions such as facilities management could be brought on to the system too.
For commercial reasons, the Council chose to implement Supportworks on-premise initially. However, the long-term strategy is to introduce more cloud-based solutions, and so in future the team may consider moving to myservicedesk.
com, the Software as a Service (SaaS) implementation of Supportworks. Because myservicedesk.com offers the full functionality of Supportworks, this transition would be straightforward.
At a glance
East Sussex County Council
Introduction of a user-friendly self-service portal enables ICT service team to focus on providing optimal service to users; support for continuous improvement of service management processes.
- The percentage of calls logged via self-service more than doubled in three months of use – the team’s ultimate goal is to receive all calls this way.
- Number of requests received via email reduced by 75%, decreasing the need for follow-up calls by the service desk.
- Solution is configured rather than customised wherever possible, helping reduce support costs by 60%.
- Management has better visibility of information, including patterns in requests, allowing underlying problems to be solved before incidents escalate.
- Simplicity of user interface makes the solution appealing to technical and non-technical users.
- The solution can readily scale and adapt to accommodate future plans.