A University-Wide Service Management Platform Fit for Purpose and Student Success
Mark Temple, IT Service Project Manager at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, is no stranger to keeping technology fit for purpose and expanding its uses. April 15, 2020 marks his 29th year of employment with the university—the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world, founded in 1451. It’s a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities and welcomes students from more than 140 countries.
Mark spent the first 12 years of his career at the University of Glasgow working as a motor mechanic, repairing and maintaining tractors, motor boats, lawn mowers, chainsaws, and more. “We worked on anything that had an engine,” he says. While in that full-time job, he attended another university two evenings each week over six years to earn a degree. An opportunity in IT opened up at the University of Glasgow and Mark jumped on it.
As Mark explains, he worked in desktop support for a couple of years and also worked on the IT service management (ITSM) tool the IT department had used for more than a decade—an on-premise system with an installed client. However, the university needed a flexible, cloud-based, enterprise-scalable solution that could support the numerous requirements of all departments, and deliver from one point of contact a smooth, responsive service experience to 28,000 students and 8,000 staff members.
Today Mark is the Service Owner for the university’s enterprise service management platform, powered by Ivanti® Service Manager, which went live in April 2019. Mark manages the staff and student IT Help Desks as well as the IT Tutors and IT Trainers, numbering around 40 employees full-time and part-time.
Publicizing the Public-Tender Process
A solid writer in his own right, Mark has blogged for the Service Desk Institute (SDI), a global network and community of service desk professionals. Published under the SDI banner of “Service Desk Journeys,” Mark has journaled about the public tender process that resulted ultimately in the selection of Ivanti Service Manager.
Since the University of Glasgow is a public institution, the IT team was bound by public-sector procurement rules, which meant the search for a new Enterprise Service Management (ESM) solution needed to be open to public tender. Mark writes, “So, the tender process began, and we were all a bit more tender by the end of it!”
Ivanti Checked All 150 Requirements
The tender process included a 150-point “does it do this and that” checklist. Nineteen submissions were received from an array of vendors, several of which were proposing the same solution. “After much deliberation,” Mark writes, “the list was narrowed down to three vendors, each proposing a different solution. On-site demos and follow-up web clarification sessions ensued, and we were pleased to announce that Ivanti and their Service Manager product had been selected as the preferred bidder. Ivanti’s Service Manager software-as-a-service platform scored highest against our list of criteria and licensing requirements, and they were awarded preferred bidder status.”
Mark explains that this then led into the mandatory ‘stand still’ period, “where unsuccessful bidders could seek clarification or challenge the award. No challenges were forthcoming, so that closed the door on the procurement process.”
He adds, “Having moved out of the procurement phase, we then met up with Ivanti’s project team and set about the daunting task of creating the blueprint for our staging environment.”
The Grand Plan: To Underpin the Service Delivery Model for the New Campus
According to Mark, the University of Glasgow is in the midst of a huge expansion process, and Ivanti Service Manager will underpin the service delivery model of the new campus, of which the first building is the Learning and Teaching Hub.
In one blog for SDI, Mark writes: “I’ve been saying to colleagues for long enough that this isn’t just a change of platform, but an opportunity to change the way we deliver and support the services which our students and staff rely upon to achieve their objectives. We’ve been working closely with service providers and other work streams to reinforce the need to adopt ‘Shift-Left’ thinking, utilizing Ivanti Service Manager’s Knowledgebase, and where possible, empowering front-line services to ‘push the buttons’ that back-end teams and even other services were traditionally responsible for—a concept that IT has been making good ground on, but one that works just as well in other areas.”
For example, through Ivanti Service Manager, staff in the new Learning and Teaching Hub are able to provide students with the information they need for a better student experience, rather than being sent from one building to the next to find the experts that have the information.
In terms of ratings, we’re up to a 4.8 out of 5.0 on our Knowledgebase articles. People do want to help themselves where and when they can. If you lead them to the tools to do that, they appreciate it. It’s a win-win.”
Mark says, “Our students are experiencing less of ‘sorry, I can’t deal with this for you; you’ll need to go and see someone else.’ More and more often it’s colleagues that can help students, or that other students and staff can help them—and help them help themselves. That’s a real measure of success that service requests are being well used, and that people are finding answers they need when they need to through the Knowledgebase.”
He adds, in terms of ratings, we’re up to a 4.8 out of 5.0 on our Knowledgebase articles. People do want to help themselves where and when they can. If you lead them to the tools to do that, they appreciate it. It’s a win-win.”
An Enterprise Service Management Platform vs. an IT Platform
Ivanti has a powerful platform. It is not just an IT ticketing tool. It is a platform that can be used outside of IT as easily as within IT. It’s flexible, it’s powerful, and we can make the changes we want to do ourselves.
Focused on the vision of service management across the enterprise, the system will support staff and student services such as student records, accommodation, library services, student registry, exams, finance, HR, and campus security, as well as performing the traditional IT service desk role. For Mark’s IT team, the Service Manager implementation means that the university’s four colleges—Arts; Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences; Science and Engineering; and Social Sciences; as well as operational services—will be unified under one central service desk.
“We always took the view that we were looking for an Enterprise Service Management platform, not making or bending an ITSM system into a shape that was acceptable for other functions to use, but was in the end, still an ITSM system,” Mark says. “We didn’t want a system that could be made to look attractive to HR, college professional services, campus security, or our data protection office, we wanted a platform that did all of this out-of-the box anyway, but that we could configure without being beholden to the vendor every time we wanted to make a change.”
Mark says the old system was an installed client that wasn’t going to work going forward. “When you made a change,” he says, “it tended to be a global change. Other functions were being forced to use an IT system that didn’t always work for them.”
He adds, “Ivanti has a powerful platform. It is not just an IT ticketing tool. It is a platform that can be used outside of IT as easily as within IT. It’s flexible, it’s powerful, and we can make the changes we want to do ourselves.”
Dashboards Have Helped Significantly
The university’s vision of enterprise-wide service management is one that supports staff and student services such as student records, accommodation, library services, student registry, exams, finance, HR, and campus security, as well as performing the traditional IT service desk role. The focus on streamlining processes is particularly important for the busy autumn period when student registration and enrollment support requests are at their highest.
Mark speaks to the value of dashboards: “We use the system across all support teams and can surface useful data in meaningful formats—lists, pie charts of what happened over the weekend, etc. It’s very easy for the teams to drill into the data and spot trends. For example, why are we seeing an increase in demand? How quickly is that demand being fulfilled? Is the backlog going down? I would say it’s a different approach to managing volumes and spotting emerging trends. It’s been quite revolutionary for us.”
I would say it’s a different approach to managing volumes and spotting emerging trends. It’s been quite revolutionary for us.”
Taking Paper-Based Forms Out of Circulation
In one of Mark’s blogs for SDI, he acknowledges that service management isn’t about “presenting the same old services in a new skin.” He writes that many of the supporting processes “haven’t been looked at for ages,” and that many of them “rely on ‘cut out and keep’ Word docs which need to be printed out, signed, then scanned back in for authorization—a perfect opportunity to streamline and speed up these processes.”
Mark’s team is working to remove these Word docs from circulation and describes the image of a pile of paper forms rising from the floor to above his desk. “Turning those into smart forms will help symbolize the transformation we’ve been going through that’s leading to greater success for students and staff,” he concludes.
Note: A customer’s results are specific to its total environment/experience, of which Ivanti is a part. Individual results may vary based on each customer’s unique environment.