Helpdesks, at the front line of an organisation's day-to-day operations and often a gateway to the IT department, attract quick judgements from end users about the IT shop's ability to deliver.
For an IT manager, however, it is not just about support, but controlling cost and more importantly, up time.
At the Holmesglen TAFE in Melbourne, IT manager Ron Gascoigne is rolling out Computer Associates' Unicenter ServicePlus ServiceDesk solution, replacing a seven-year-old paper-based system with a Web interface which lets users submit requests directly.
Serving more than 50,000 students and 1500 staff, the solution has removed the need for helpdesk staff to re-enter data, Gascoigne said, and the Web interface means users can check the progress of their requests.
Response times are immediate instead of the previous 24 to 48 hour delays.
While the solution is a far more efficient process for end users, improved workflow has freed up IT staff to undertake training and provide additional services.
Gascoigne has also saved on one full-time salary, keeping the helpdesk staff numbers to two.
Holmesglen TAFE has an operating budget of more than $100 million; however, IT expenditure is around $3 million and Gascoigne said the IT shop now has a total of 20 staff.
In 2002, the educational institute opened a new campus increasing its already large computer network by 30 per cent.
"This resulted in an increase in the volume of requests sent to the helpdesk and the previous system was so old it was becoming unstable; helpdesk requests have been increasing at about 1000 per year," he said.
The purchasing selection process began last year and Gascoigne looked at a broad range of solutions before considering four products and trialling two.
"Lack of functionality and customisation were the main reasons we didn't go with the other solutions," he said.
"Installation only took a couple of days but it took close to three months to work the configuration and align the package to our business needs. "If I did the process again I would have CA consulting services work with us from beginning to end, because there are so many features that the time to self-teach outweighs the cost of the consulting services."
Gascoigne said an immediate benefit has been the ability to introduce end user surveys to monitor satisfaction levels with the reply rate as high as 50 percent.
The rollout is expected to reach completion toward the end of this year and Gascoigne has purchased a couple of Storage Resource Management licences to trial with the TAFE's Novell and Windows servers.
Holmesglen TAFE uses the following systems: