ITIL deployment gets Murdoch Uni's IT support back on track

ITIL guidelines and process-based teams signal end of unanswered IT support calls.

Murdoch University in WA is currently winding up an ITIL deployment that began late last year and has since "revolutionized" the way the university's IT support and services department manages its IT processes and assists its thousands of end users.

With 15,000 staff and students, 3100 PCs and an IT staff of just over 70, Murdoch's CIO and director of IT services, Chris Foley, said the IT Services department was underperforming in the way processes were being handled and completed.

The department was receiving around 500 calls a week - well over 16,000 since the beginning of the year - and some calls were going unanswered.

"They were very inconsistent; processes weren't well published, documented or followed. What was happening was reasonably ad hoc, not necessarily the best practice, not necessarily consistent and not necessarily repeatable. Nor did we have an audit trail," Foley said.

Foley said the university attempted to implement ITIL a few years ago, but with little success. The university needed external help, and turned to Dell to assess and aid in the deployment of ITIL through a series of cultural, physical and organisational changes.

The project involved migrating from the university's legacy incident handling system to Altiris Helpdesk, which was chosen to complement the fact that the university already used Altiris products to inventory its hardware and software assets.

"Our existing stand alone solution wasn't adequate for our needs as it didn't have that connection between what people were talking about and the actual physical equipment - you would look up a person's name and you couldn't actually see the PC or equipment they were using to be able to look at the configuration of it," Foley said.

Dell assessed and deployed teams based on ITIL guidelines, aligning people in the IT department that were previously working across broad functional areas to specific, process based teams.

"They set up an incident management, a problem management and a change management team within the customer services area. Culturally it was very difficult for people to get their mind around, but Dell assisted us a lot in change management and mentoring roles."

The immediate impact for all end users could be seen through a significant improvement in the initial response time to all service desk queries. Major incident handling processes and response times were improved, and the foundations for a measurement and reporting system were implemented.

"ITIL has completely revolutionised the way our customer service area deals with incident management...One of the biggest problems we had was making sure the phones are actually answered, and we've got data to suggest that no phones have gone unanswered in the last two months," Foley said.

Despite requiring a considerable amount of staff retraining, Foley said Dell provided an informal 15 minute mentoring meeting each morning in addition to formal ITIL training that greatly assisted the retraining of staff.

"[ITIL] allowed us to implement processes that everybody understands and follows, and we can then trace back through those processes to see what people have done. It's revolutionised the way we do things and made sure those processes are repeatable and auditable."

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