Empowering staff and students to solve their own problems
Rhodes College currently has more than 2,800 end users and 150 active operators using its service management solution, said Stacy Pennington, the director of infrastructure and enterprise applications at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. The service desk is designed to help students and staff, to provide the knowledge to do things like configure the Wi-Fi or a place to request the replacement of light bulbs in a single place.
Prior to implementing TOPdesk’s service management solution, the Rhodes College IT department used an on-premises info-services helpdesk until late 2015. “The system was working well, but we wanted to move to a better, hosted self-service portal and service catalogue. We primarily used the old system for keeping track of tickets that we got through email. Although the system was not near the end of its life, we realized we needed to start looking for better ways to serve our customers,” Pennington said.
Rhodes College’s service desk operators are comprised of both employees and students, with many of the work-study students working between just five and ten hours per week. During its discovery phase, Rhodes College IT leaders discovered that other service management vendors were not able to match TOPdesk’s flexibility in regard to pricing and the license agreement. Other vendors usually required one license per operator no matter how much or how often a user logged into the system. Since as many as 25% of all service desk operators are student workers during the course of a school year, from a pricing perspective it would have been extremely expensive for the college to purchase individual user licenses for all operators, including the students – who only occasionally log in and work. Because of this, the school’s IT leaders quickly realized that the licensing agreement of its service management technology partner was its top priority as it sought a new helpdesk technology partner.
One thing that I love on the administrative side is that the system vernacular is customizable without any coding.
Centralizing service management across the college
Rhodes College began its partnership with TOPdesk in January 2016 and went live in May, just five months later. Currently, multiple departments within the school are using TOPdesk, including the library, front desk, IT, campus safety, student services, financial aid, Rhodes Express (the student service hub) and others. Even more departments are expected to begin using TOPdesk in the near future as the college continues to realize and experience the benefits of the integrated service management technology.
“We’re still in the middle of the shift, and we know that others on the campus want to use it eventually. Some departments just haven’t got there yet. The move forward is continuously progressing,” said Pennington.
Tierney Jackson, another member of the Rhodes College IT team, added, “Our goal is to centralize TOPdesk as a source of help on campus. Our users want help with and information about the services Rhodes offers, and it’s just a matter of us making the answers easy for them to find. This can lower the workload for our lean staff, allowing us to work more efficiently. TOPdesk was always intended to be a resource for the entire Rhodes community – faculty, staff and students alike. That was the intent from the beginning. Anyone can contact us, even a parent, and we’ll help them.”
“Making the solution work for us”
It’s not just TOPdesk’s flexible licensing agreements that Rhodes College likes about the system: users love the ability to manage operators and provide service to customers in numerous ways all in one place. “There are no redundancies, and it’s never out of date,” Pennington said.
There is much more efficiency now, too. “The lack of needing to keep up with backups and updates of the system allows us to work more efficiently. Since we are serving customers across multiple departments in one place, all the work is aggregated and less support on our part is needed.”
“One thing that I love on the administrative side is that the system vernacular is customizable without any coding. We can use our own terminology in TOPdesk for things instead of having to get used to how TOPdesk labels things,” Jackson said.
Darlene Brooks, library director of the Paul Barret, Jr. Library, explains that Rhodes College’s implementation of the TOPdesk was flawless, owing much of that to exemplary support from TOPdesk’s implementation manager, which Brooks said was the best she’s ever worked with. “The implementation manager listened to everything we said, and he didn’t talk over us. There was a lot of information out there that we needed to process and go through to understand, and it was a bit overwhelming, but he made it seamless for us.”
Improving the user experience
The future focus of Rhodes College’s service management effort includes building out the school’s self-service portal and continuing to change the ways users interact with the service desk – to empower them to solve their own problems and issues as they are able.
“A lot of people need help with finding information, so giving them access to the information they want and providing them a way to access it themselves results in fewer tickets that we have to manage,” Pennington said. “Taking that general help and making it more specific helps facilitate success and enhance the user experience.”
TOPdesk: Pleasant surprises
“TOPdesk continues to pleasantly surprise us; we really try to use it as much as we can,” Brooks said emphatically.
For Brooks, the real surprise that TOPdesk offers is how the system can “solve any problem we throw at it, and sometimes there are problems that I didn’t even realize would be problems, and the solution is already in TOPdesk.”