University of Memphis
Bringing excellent support to staff and students across campus with a shared services tool
With only 115 people working as part of the central IT and technology support teams, the University of Memphis requires careful management to provide the highest level of support to their large customer base.
Sue Hull-Toye leads the public-facing operations of the division. Until recently, her teams relied upon several disconnected systems to perform ticket tracking, case review, user support, and data collection. The result was a clunky process that provided little benefit to students or employees.
The situation required change. Hull-Toye and the Associate CIO, Robert Johnson, found the solution to their troubles in TOPdesk.
We spent too much money and time ‘solving’ some problems while inadvertently creating more problems than we solved.
Sue Hull-Toye, Assistant CIO
Taking on the multitude of disparate technologies
Before TOPdesk, the university employed multiple disparate, and somewhat ineffective, technologies cobbled together to power the service desk.
By attempting to integrate multiple, unrelated tools, the division had outsmarted itself and created barriers of complexity. “We invested heavily in technology and further modified what we had,” says Hull-Toye. “We built a Swiss watch when a sundial would have been adequate,” adds Johnson, “and doing so created as much of an internal burden as it was supposed to solve.”
The only outcome for the university: paying too much for too little return on far too many technology investments. Moreover, the service desk team worked much harder than necessary, especially on tasks that should have been simple – all because of the solutions employed to manage them. “We spent too much money and time ‘solving’ some problems while inadvertently creating more problems than we solved,” explains Hull-Toye.
Counterintuitively, Johnson admits, the most demanding challenges received the least attention because of the work required to manage related tasks, tickets, and assets across multiple systems. Data reporting suffered tremendously, becoming a tough challenge to master. When the university’s CIO asked IT directors to review current information about ticket management, service requests, and response rates, they discovered correlated, traceable data was hard to come by. Lack of alignment across the university’s multiple systems became a burden too tough to bear.
TOPdesk: a modest investment for a scalable solution
The university’s IT leadership sought a sleek, easy-to-use capable technology that, in a best-case scenario, could scale throughout the whole campus. TOPdesk emerged as the leading brand, which thrilled Hull-Toye and Johnson.
At the University of Memphis, upon a deep dive of the product, the selection team quickly became impressed with TOPdesk’s capabilities, foundational strength, simplicity, and ability to scale widely. The University of Memphis team also selected TOPdesk because it is easy to integrate across multiple departments and the campus. “The decision was swayed by the value that TOPdesk represents, in terms of what one is able to do with a relatively modest investment of time and effort and in the deal, getting integrations across multiple areas,” explains Hull-Toye.
The university fully upgraded to all things TOPdesk, layering on top of their incident management, project management, change management, and asset management. These selections speak to the simplicity of the TOPdesk solution and its ability to integrate seamlessly across the campus.
Implementing one service management solution across the university
University IT leaders initially intended for TOPdesk to be used only by the IT department. Based on the solution’s ease of use and power to collect data, report and encourage self-service capabilities, they encouraged using TOPdesk across several other areas of the campus. “The move was the correct decision,” Hull-Toye says. ”Doing so helped bring many of the university’s “houses” in order.”
Because of this, several teams wanted a piece of TOPdesk. “We started implementing TOPdesk for other parts of the campus where leaders saw and liked what we were doing and who said ‘we want some of that,” Hull-Toye says.
“TOPdesk’s ticketing solution quickly became one of the most sought-after features,” according to Hull-Toye.
The Human Resources department became particularly impressed with TOPdesk’s capabilities, using TOPdesk when a caller needs help with a simple information issue. Enrollment Services departments use TOPdesk to serve remote students who are not regularly on the campus.
TOPdesk’s use doesn’t stop there. Other departments are clamoring to get on board, too. “They see a well-run shop, and they want one, too. Everybody feels the pressure to do better than they’ve been doing before and that certainly isn’t limited to the university. This success breeds success,” adds Hull-Toye.
After the University of Memphis’ previous complex multi-tool solution, the last thing the school needed was another overly complicated system because complexity increases cost. “Good software like TOPdesk makes it less expensive to maintain good processes and gather good data, independently of the initial cost. And, the real value of quality software is the degree to which it disappears into the background as you work with it,” Johnson says.
TOPdesk provides access to useable data. With data, the service desk can track the number of calls, the number of times an incident is touched before it’s resolved, the number of events resolved without the need for assistance from a help desk staff member, and how self-service reduces help requests.
TOPdesk stands apart: framework, ease of use and excellent support
Three factors helped TOPdesk stand apart from any competition: TOPdesk’s framework, TOPdesk’s ease of integration, and TOPdesk’s support.
In the first place, the fact that TOPdesk is built on a recognizable global service framework based on ITIL concepts makes the solution simple to use. There is no need to learn an “idiosyncratic language” or set of metaphors or thought processes for using the solution, like many other technologies on the market. For the university, this ease is substantial to its success.
Second, TOPdesk’s product integration is a breeze. “One can use TOPdesk either as a change management system, project management system or incident or asset — or all together as a sweep,” Johnson says.
Thirdly, the support received from TOPdesk’s consultancy team is always outstanding. “The last, and perhaps the most important thing, is the support received,” Johnson says. “I can’t say enough good things about how easy it is to do business with TOPdesk.”
It’s easy for IT staff to discuss something highly technical, and interact with users in the same interface.
Robert Johnson, Associate CIO
Creating a culture of ease of use
Because of TOPdesk, the university’s culture is changing, too. “After many years in IT, I am hard to surprise. One of the pleasant things that I discovered with TOPdesk, is how easily we can maintain conversations among the IT staff about something highly technical, and interact with the user in a non-technical way in the same interface. That is not easy to do in other tools I’ve used because it requires either two different forms, or windows, or whatever the IT staff uses to talk to each other without overwhelming the user.”
Johnson says his team values TOPdesk’s rewards. “It fits together so well that I can either take assets and track them across to changes, take assets, and relate them to incidents and users and projects. I also can open up the system to some of our monitoring software, it’s the way it seems to fit, and it’s meant to fit with other things.”