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GIR Member Viewpoint - March 2011

IT Help Desk to IT Service Desk: Achieving True First Call Resolution

Todd A. Leach, Associate Vice President, Information Services
Emma Ramos, Associate Director, Client Services
The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB)

In 2009, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) insourced its information technology service desk, centralized its desktop and server support, and implemented a rotational support model.  The centralized group and rotational model support UTMB’s hospitals and clinics, academic and research enterprise, and institutional support areas.  This service assists over 13,500 faculty, staff and students, 200 locations throughout Texas, and more than 10,000 devices.

UTMB’s previous approach to the service desk was to engage a vendor to process calls and e-mail from customers and route tickets to the various functional areas within information technology.  The desk had minimal knowledge of UTMB’s environment and functioned primarily to reset passwords and enter tickets.  Incorrectly routed tickets caused numerous service delays for customers.  There was general user frustration that the first point of contact was not knowledgeable or helpful in a lot of cases.

The support of the UTMB School of Medicine was vital to the success of the centralized approach.  Prior to 2009, the School of Medicine used a combination approach with smaller departments using centralized institutional support and larger departments such as Surgery, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics using their own departmental IT staff and their own servers and data centers.  After centralization, departmental servers were consolidated into larger centralized storage, eliminating the maintenance and management of many individual systems.  The cost and issues transitioning after a key departmental person left the institution have almost been eliminated.

To address user concerns like those mentioned above and financial constraints resulting from Hurricane Ike, a new service model for distributed support was developed.  With limited resources, UTMB attempted to come up with a design that would leverage a smaller group of staff but still provide service to the customer as soon as possible after the first contact.  The new model includes the following:

  • Two desktop support analysts are assigned to each geographical area of UTMB’s environment.  They alternate on-site support and a service desk role bi-weekly.
  • Desktop support analysts physically sit in larger department areas such as Internal Medicine.
  • Subject matter experts from areas such as access management, network and security services, and server administration rotate on the service desk.

To ensure the UTMB School of Medicine departments had sufficient involvement in setting the work priorities of the centralized support staff, UTMB Information Services (IS) assigned senior level desktop supervisor contacts to each department.  This allows departmental administrators to continue to have a direct relationship with an IT professional for assistance with technology needs or technology decisions within the department.

A component of the model that has contributed greatly to an improved first call resolution metric was including subject matter experts from multiple areas on the service desk.  The SMEs from groups such as access management, server administration, and network services were asked to rotate their staff on the service desk, as well.  This approach has reinforced that individual customer service is as important as larger projects and technical system administration.

Prior to insourcing the service desk and implementing the new model, first call resolution averaged about 50%.  Now, it averages 83% and has peaked as high as 87% during certain months.  Overall Information Services satisfaction survey metrics are higher than other support services, and post service desk call survey statistics consistently average around 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being ‘completely satisfied.’  Regular communication with all customer areas is a critical component to success delivering these services.  The continued frequent communication between IS and school of medicine departments is even more critical in order to meet the complex and highly specialized needs of faculty and researchers.

This Member Viewpoint is based on a 2010 session presented at the GIR/GBA/GIP Joint Spring Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Member Viewpoints

Featured in issues of the GIR Newsletter and the GIR website, these articles are contributed by GIR representatives on current IT-related issues, challenge solutions, and technological innovations in academic medical institutions.