UCISA Support Services – After the event

After the event

Most delegates come away from the UCISA Support Services Conference full of energy and bursting with ideas and a few have already blogged about the event. We even managed to trend in Edinburgh for three hours! Anyway if you would like to do some further reading here are a couple more blogs for you to peruse

Matthew Saunders https://learnaddict.com/2015/07/20/ucisa-support-services-conference-2015-the-experience/

Claire Donlan http://donlantechnologies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/ucisa-ss15-conference-day-2-ussc15.html?spref=tw

Chris Sexton http://cicsdir.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/real-itsm-in-real-world.html

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UCISA Support Services Conference – Day 3

Tim Burton – Bomgar Business Showcase

This session generated a huge discussion around utilising Bomgar Chat Facilities and whether we should all consider turning off email. Certainly food for thought. I do have some concerns around maintaining service quality in chat – particularly when we are looking at Service Desk Analysts are encouraged to handle multiple sessions. However the Bomgar product looks great and Reading University have integrated it with their ITSM Tool (TopDesk) something we are in the process of piloting at the University of Leeds. I will let you know how we get on!

Antonia Jones – Reward and Recognition to motivate staff

Happy staff give great service so it is worth investing time and effort into making the people who are responsible for service delivery feel valued and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be big grand gestures, something as simple as pay day treats or a team advent calendar can have a big impact. Antonia’s advice is to make sure you don’t let your Service Desk team be the Cinderella of IT;

  • Don’t be afraid to fly the flag for your team and make time to celebrate success.
  • The team that plays together stays together so encourage social activities and outings, charitable initiatives are a great example and also support the values of a University.
  • There is a difference between career development and job opportunities – we cannot guarantee job opportunities but we can always support career development but make the distinction between the two clear. Career development is a really valuable took for motivating staff and demonstrating that they are valued.

Antonia finished off the session with a question – as managers and leaders what are we doing each day to make the people in our teams feel valued and appreciated.

Andy Parfitt Enlightened Leadership

Self -Care! Leaders need to take care of their Intellectual, Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Health – we are going to fail as leaders and managers if we rush from one meeting to the next without taking time to reflect and feedback. And we need to make sure that we take the time to truly listen – waiting to speak is the lowest form of listening and is unlikely to result in positive, nurturing relationships.

UICSA Support Services Conference 2015 – Day 2

Sharon Mossman – Service Desk Certification

Sharon Mossman from the University of Newcastle gave a session on Service Desk Certification, a subject very close to my own heart as we share a similar journey. This programme is not just about the star rating but is about where you want to be, giving your service desk and IT Services a strong framework for continual service improvement. Service Desk Certification can also be a great way of addressing poor perceptions and be used to raise the profile of the Service Desk and can provide the team with a real sense of pride and achievement. You can find out more about this at http://www.servicedeskinstitute.com/service-desk-certification/

Emma Andersen – It’s not just Twitter and Facebook, how students use tech

Emma is a third year Law student from the University of Leeds and her session covered how students use tech in her everyday life – from setting her morning alarm on her smartphone to accessing her timetable via the Leeds Uni App. Although not ground-breaking information as conference organiser we feel it is always important to include a student session in our conference. Emma’s session was light hearted and refreshing and gave a truthful and honest insight into what students actually want and need from University IT. Key points were;

  • Laptops is vital but Emma prefers writing essays on a traditional desktop PC, as long as there is plenty of desk space for ipads’, books etc
  • Student systems should be portable and accessible – this gives instant access and the use of tablets mean tech is now handbag friendly
  • Email is still an essential service
  • Students like Facebook conversations for group work but don’t necessarily want these formalised. Need to be safe spaces
  • Apart from books all students really want from libraries are wifi and plugs!
  • Comfy seats and flexible learning spaces are nice to have as well
  • Students like social media as a way of receiving information in small chunks
  • New services such as Lecture Capture and the LeedsUni Mobile app have been really well received

–          Students appreciate walk in support – they like having a real person that they can talk to. IT needs to have a friendly face (think Apple Genius Bar)

Panel Session

The Panel session provided delegates with the opportunity for a focused discussion on we can lead, manage and support change in our own organisations.

  • Change can take so long that sometimes we forget what it is for – we need to look for more agile change approaches
  • There has to be money put aside for innovation, otherwise you will never innovate
  • Do not think about what is going on today but think about what will be happening tomorrow
  • Students will deal with service disruption if they know about it and can see the outcome we need to be honest about delays and disruption

–          But be careful not to over communicate – students get bombarded with email – we need to tailor and target our email communications

Innovations Team – University of Lancaster.

In September 2014, Lancaster University created an Innovation Hub, designed to raise the profile of innovation, engage with students and deliver fast and agile results. This session gave insights into the 300+ ideas generated, how the team engaged students and staff and delivered some of their ideas. This session caused quite a lot of envy amongst colleagues with quite a few comments on twitter from people wishing they worked at Lancaster University. They have implemented a wide range of initiatives ranging from a Student Recipe Website, Gameification for the Library system to being the first University to build the entire campus to scale in Minecraft. There was lots of fun stuff going on but it did raise a few questions around support – does all this new stuff get chucked over the fence to Service Desk and how is it formally moved from innovation into a BAU service. As exciting as it all sounds, I’ll be honest and say I wouldn’t want to be the Service Desk Manger! Phew, how would you keep up.

20*20 Sessions

The 20*20 sessions are always really popular as they give delegates the opportunity to talk about what is happening in their own institutions. They can take a variety of formats; short presentations in the 20*20 format, prerecording power points or videos. This year we had quite a variety. My favourite came from Gareth Edwards who gave a fast paced funny and brilliant session on using Personal Kanban. Personal Kanban is a clever way of visually representing your task list and helping you track and prioritise your work and understand your productivity. This is something I am currently experimenting with myself so expect a blog post shortly but if you interested in finding out more have a look at http://www.personalkanban.com/pk/#sthash.1SohNjmj.dpbs but be prepared to buy post it notes!

Sarah Peace from York University also gave a presentation on the battle of the phone stats between Leeds Uni, Durham and York and how we have used our competitive natures to create a phone stats league table. If you are interested in joining in with this then please feel free to email me s.l.bogg@leeds.ac.uk

UCISA Support Services Conference 2015 – Day 1

UCISA Support Services Conference 2015 – Day 1

This year’s Conference was held at the Oxford Belfry Hotel (which is not actually in Oxford. The Conference is an opportunity for colleagues working in University IT Support Services to get together and share ideas and experiences from the past 12 months and this year’s theme was around change! It was a brilliant event but of course being part of the conference organising committee means I am slightly biased. However feedback has been great so far. I have tried my best to summarise some of the best sessions but there was so much brilliant content I ‘ve found it difficult to keep it short. Anyway here it is – my view of UCISA Support Service Conference 2015.

John Fijalkowski From superhero to mild-mannered Process Engineer Reaching the highest level of process maturity is a fine target, an ambitious and noble quest that will sap your spirit and drain your soul. This was a light hearted look at the potentially dry topic of process optimisation. The key point for me from this session was the process optimisation and improvement needs to be linked to service improvement – how many of us are delivering process for process sake? Process optimisation requires quality checking and this in turn requires a culture of trust not blame. We need to

  • Motivate people to recognise where processes are broken so that they can start to fix them.
  • Habitualise our teams and teach them good habits

Dave Churchley – Real ITSM in the real world

The first of two sessions from Newcastle University – Dave Churchley talking about their journey of ITSM, a story of tea breaking printers, dad documentation tests and open tickets that belong to dead people! When they first started looking at ITSM they soon realised that change was the biggest cause of service instability and major incidents so they introduced change management, this approach has been successful and the team are now recording how many days since the last major incident, currently about to move into 100 days plus. I really like this positive metric, perhaps the first of my conference takeaway! Dave also talked about taking a pragmatic approach when implementing Service Catalogue – don’t aim for perfection in the first instance or you will never get going with it, instead focus on a steady and evolutionary improvement. Wise Words! His other key point is the People will always be the most important element of the four ITIL P’s, it is important to understand the environment you are working in and work with your culture rather than against it.

Heidi Fraser Krauss and Thomas Krauss – Process Through Technology

This session including some tongue in cheek role pay from Heidi (Director of IT at York University) and her husband Thomas Krauss a leading researcher. The key take away from me for this one is that IT should not assume we know what researchers will want. We need to take the time to engage and to make sure we are offering services that make their lives easier by making systems easy to learn, use and access. Shared services are good but we also need to ensure that they meet the needs of individuals; we cannot keep offering one size fits all.

Improving customer experience through employee experience

Last week I was at an SDI event talking about some if the improvements we have made at the IT Help Desk and I was asked how we had achieved such excellent results – my answer! Through staff satisfaction and motivation! Studies have shown that there is a huge difference in the performance of motivated and non-motivated staff so actually it is really important to invest time and effort in the people that are responsible for service delivery. Happy people give great service and if you want to improve customer experience then first start with employee experience.

We started off this process by looking at our Vision & Mission for the service. For people to be successful in their roles they need to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how the work they undertake supports the overall organisation. We created the IT Help Desk Vision, Mission posters, these provide the whole team with a common goal and shared sense of purpose and helps ensure that we are all pulling in the same direction.

Professional and personal development can be a great motivator for people and we have developed a culture and working environment that gives people the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their knowledge. In many organisations Service Desk staff are seen as the Cinderella’s of IT or the Desk is viewed simply as a springboard into other IT roles. We work hard to ensure the role of IT Support Advisor is as varied and interesting as possible. Everyone gets the opportunity to work in the different areas of the service; phone, face to face and email and we take turns to work on our additional services. We also aim to provide career development and have developed processes to support job shadowing and secondment opportunities. We have supported staff in long and short term secondments and we provide help with writing job applications and putting CVs together and always encourage individuals to apply for internal roles.

We have implemented rigorous recruitment, induction and training procedures and our standard training package includes ITIL Foundation, Service Desk Analyst, IT Security and Equality & Diversity Training. We also provide the team with individual call coaching that gives both team members and management with an on-going quality and personal development mechanism. We also regularly audit staff skills via our skills matrix. This gives us an understanding as to the level of skill from a technical and customer service viewpoint. The skills matrix allows us to identify where there are gaps and how these can be closed as well as revealing any hidden talents. Staff that are given continuous training and evaluation are better able to deliver the excellent customer service we are looking for. Most people are stimulated by leadership roles even in spot appearances. For example, when we have visitors we usually allow someone on the desk to take the role of visitors guide and on the odd occasion when there are no supervisors or managers around we have let others step up and take the role. When the Help Desk are involved in the implementation of new and enhanced services we appoint project leads from within the team to be the main point of contact and represent Help Desk at project meetings. Again this is a great way for individuals to be given additional responsibilities.

The organisations who get the most out of people are the organisations who care most about people and staff happiness and well-being is essential if you want to deliver a great service. As part of the work on Service Desk Certification we have introduced a staff satisfaction process and we now hold surveys twice a year, this helps us understand issues and concerns and address these early before they start to impact the service. For the past 2 years our overall staff satisfaction rating has come back at 100% – it is great to know that every single person in the team enjoys their job.

We are a team that is not afraid to fly our own flag! To recognise and reward good performance it is really important that we celebrate success. We have put ourselves forward for number of industry awards and events. We get the whole team involved in putting together the submissions for these and it is actually a great exercise in team building. Last year we were finalists in the IT Service & Support Awards and came runner up in the ‘I Love My Service Desk’ Competition, and Laura was a finalists the Best Student Intern category at the National Undergraduate Awards. Although we didn’t win we had a lot of fun putting together the evidence and creating some short videos and I have to say that for us it really is the taking part the counts. Team members regularly give presentations and sessions at different industry events both internal and external. Giving people the chance to talk about the great work they do are great opportunities to raise the profile of the service and give people a real sense of achievement and pride.

They say that an army marches on its stomach and I think that this is definitely true of our team and we love nothing more than a tasty treat and these can be a great, low cost way of rewarding and recognising staff effort. We’ve had healthy fruit to keep us going during the hectic start of team period and a star cake to celebrate our Service Desk Certification. From time to time the managers have provided breakfast for the team, as we have said food is a great motivator for our team and this will get the day off to a great start. During major incidents and busy periods when the pressure is really on the management team will make the drinks or do the sandwich run. It is important that managers are not afraid to pitch in and get their hands dirty sometimes! And it doesn’t have to be big things! For the past couple of years we have had a team advent calendar, with team members taking it in turns to eat the chocolate and read out the joke. Cost was £2 but a really easy way of having a little bit of fun each morning.

Using Customer feedback and customer compliments can also be a great way of recognizing excellent customer service. We make sure that we share our customer feedback with our key stakeholders including the senior management team and we have a customer feedback page on the IT intranet. All customer compliments are logged in our ITSM tool so that we can report and benchmark the data and use it to praise individuals and each month we publish the customer satisfaction data including comments on twitter and our external IT Website. We get a lot of thanks and recognition from customers, and these come in lots of different forms, anything from home made preserves and plums for a customers plum tree to chocolates (always a firm favorite

We know that a team is not just a group of people that work together but also a group of people that respect, trust and care for each other and that actually it is really important to have some fun along the way. The team are encouraged to get involved in lots of charitable initiatives and we have regular social outings. We’ve done Children in Need, Red Nose Day and Genes for Jeans and just last month we collected and filled 30 shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child Appeal and raised money for Save The Children through the IT Christmas Jumper Competition.

Reward and recognition isn’t something that is the sole responsibility of management either, it is something that involves every single member of the team and they are actually quite good at praising each other and you can regularly hear team members telling others they handled a call really well or did a good job an a tricky techie issue.

If you want an engaged team then treat people well, listen to them, be helpful and give them room to grow. Staff will perform well when they are paid well, mentored, challenged, inspired, involved, appreciated, trusted, trained and empowered. And when they are allowed to have fun as well!

The result will be a team that is hardworking, enthusiastic, committed, humble, positive, confidence, honest, creative and persistent. And who doesn’t want this. Whilst there has been a big investiment is staff satisfaction I like to think that the results speak for themselves.

Staff absence days have halved and service levels are up, we have increased our 1st contact resolution by 4% and decreased our phone wait times by an average of 26 seconds per call.

We have excellent staff retention rates demonstrating the desk is now a place where many of us are happy to stay and develop our careers. The average length of service is 4.2 years which is actually pretty good. but the most impressive result? Customer satisfaction is up from 88% to 98%!

So I can say with confidence, making sure the team feel valued and appreciated has really paid off.

When we started out on our Service Desk Certification programme 3 years ago we really thought it would be about processes, procedures, tools and technologies but what we learnt is that really it is all about people. A good service needs good people and a strong team and that is what we have. Our improvement process has really focused on the development of a team that can stand tall and be proud of the service that they deliver. Happy people really do give good service!

Educause 14 – additional resources

There is so much content at Educause 2014 it has taken me until now to pull all my notes together. I have now fed back to my colleagues at the University of Leeds about my experiences and I even used the new Lecture Capture System to record my presentation. I just need to make a few tweaks and it will be ready to publish to the wider community. Because there were so many fantastic sessions at this conference I have only been able to provide a very high level summary of my favourites so I have pulled together a list of additional resources in case anyone wants to do some additional reading around the subject. Hope you find it useful

4 things you may have missed at Educause 14 http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2014/10/educause-2014-4-things-you-may-have-missed

30 technology trends that will change education http://www.teachthought.com/trends/30-incredible-ways-technology-will-change-education-by-2028/

Top 10 hottest technologies in Higher Education http://bit.ly/10KT1QA

Online learning could fundamentally change education http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2014/09/educause-2014-online-learning-could-fundamentally-change-role-universities

The Agile Manifesto http://agilemanifesto.org/

Kanban http://kanbanblog.com/explained/

Scrum https://www.scrum.org/

14 uses for Google Glass in Higher Education http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vala-afshar/14-google-glass-innovativ_b_5410893.html

Lechal Shoes http://lechal.com/

Narrative Clip http://getnarrative.com/

Cyber attacks a growing problem for Higher Education http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2014/10/educause-2014-cyberattacks-are-growing-problem-higher-education

Data security a top concern for higher ed IT Teams http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/media/video/educause-2014-data-security-top-concern-higher-ed-it-teams

Sit With Me Organization http://sitwithme.org/

Female CEOs make way for Female Directors http://online.wsj.com/articles/female-ceos-make-room-for-female-directors-1415732625?mod=e2tw

The Confidence Gap http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815/

Text books are dead http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2014/10/educause-2014-publisher-says-textbooks-are-dead-and-adaptive-learning-rising-ashes

Is big data there yet? http://linkis.com/po.st/H6lQG

Motivating through metrics https://hbr.org/2005/09/motivating-through-metrics/ar/1

Educause’s Top 10 IT issues for HE http://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/research/top-10-it-issues

Doris Kearns- Goodwin http://www.doriskearnsgoodwin.com/

Skills that every leader needs to have https://hbr.org/2014/07/the-skills-leaders-need-at-every-level/?utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet&utm_campaign=Socialflow

3 lessons ITSM could learn from Disney http://www.conferenceinabox.io/itsm/3-things-can-learn-itsm-disney/

Leadership Lessons of History from the American Presidents

This was perhaps my favorite session from the whole conference and was delivered by Doris Kearns Goodwin the American presidential historian and award winning author. Doris used her knowledge and stories about Roosevelt, Lincoln and Johnson to provide insights into what makes great leadership. I have to say she really brought these presidents to life and reminded the 7000 delegates why a passion for history is so important for the future.

Lincoln, Roosevelt and Johnson had to engage with voters and constituents using very different media and as the media changed so did the communication styles but one thing that did not change was their ability to truly reach out and they all they all figured out ways to stay connected to the constituencies that they served

They were all very different men, very different leaders but they also had some shared traits Lincoln, Roosevelt and Johnson were men that were able to learn from their mistakes Lincoln is quoted as saying ‘The man who has never made a mistake is the man that has never made anything’ . They never forget where they came from and understood the importance of having both roots and wings!

Great leaders have the confidence to surround themselves with people who will argue and challenge their perspectives – Lincoln was known for surrounding people who weren’t afraid to question him and Johnson was famous for saying it was better to have your enemies on the inside pissing out of the tent than have them on the outside pissing in.

All three understood the importance of not losing touch with the people – and here is a key lesson for HE, we need to engage with our students and engage with our academic communities.

They were also able to take criticism with grace and able to motivate themselves in the face of great frustration and adversity and of course they had the ability to bounce back after a great crisis and use the experience – all traits of great leadership. We all get setbacks – but it is how you handle the setback that truly defines who you are.

They also were able to develop an exceptional sense of timing and knew when to hold back and when to move forward. How many of us here are work a holics that are constantly connected – would we all become better leaders’ better people if we took time off to recharge as these three presidents did?

And finally they learned to laugh at themselves.

Leadership is not management, it is not a role or a position that you hold but rather it is something that you do!

I cannot even begin to do this speaker justice – she was so engaging so inspiring but the one key message I took away from this session was that whatever the environment, whatever the challenge the traits of truly great leadership remain the same. And more importantly people will forget what you said and they will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel!

IT Help Desk Manager at the University of Leeds. Mostly blogging about conferences and Service Desk Stuff