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Greetings,

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone that has engaged a consulting group to assist them with assessment of technology help desk strategy and business model and processes. Rider currently operates a Help Desk with limited staff and student resources during business hours and partners with a third party vendor for after hours support and and incident tracking solution.

Theresa
-- Theresa R. Hvisdock Director of Planning, Consulting & Help Desk Office of Information Technologies Rider University 2083 Lawrenceville Road Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 (609) 896 - 5000 x7370 (609) 896 - 3958 (fax) ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.

Comments

Theresa:

I hope all is well.  I have been part of a few Help Desk (HD) efforts.  It's a great opportunity to get "under the hood" on how communication of IT related issues are solved.

Recognize 
  1. The "first contact" role of the HD team and good will (or bad) that can permeate throughout the institution
  2. The opportunity to leverage a new metric landscape to drive decision making is exciting.
  3. Build a knowledge base to improve personnel, customer service and solutions
Please advise with any questions or concerns.

:Steve G.


Theresa,

I am sure you can find a consultant to assist with this but one that specialized in higher ed Help Desks while respecting your specific needs and challenges will be the trick.  Consultants can bring in lots of  industry expertise but some of this has little application in the higher education environment.  Let's face it, we have to deal with things like personally owned devices, gaming stations, ubiquitous wifi, residence halls, multi-campus operations, guest accounts, distance ed students/faculty, financial constraints, staffing constraints, student labor pool, training issues, dated technology, employment of open source solutions, etc.  These are all not bad things and some are very good (student labor for instance) but the demands placed on a well functioning Help Desk that supports the needs of the higher education community can be lost unless you are dealing with a company that has a good track record for doing this for colleges and universities.  Once you find one then you need to ensure they are in tune with your specific needs related to the number of employees and students supported, number of online students, even graduate vs undergraduate needs differ, student labor pool, etc.  I am sure these are all things you have considered but they are important considerations.

All that said, if you are being directed to contract this out then by all means that is the direction to go but if you have options and time then I strongly suggest you do some in depth comparisons with institutions like Rider (private, multi-campus, suburban/metro setting, about 4000 ug/1200 gs, about 250 staff/250 faculty, etc.).  I would draw on the expertise within the higher education community to see what is working well and what matches your needs first.  Our institution is not that different from Rider in employees but we have more distance ed and regional centers and our ug population is about 2200 while gs is about 5000 in a small town setting but we can certainly talk and share what has worked well here. I would do a quick search on the Core Data Service to get an initial listing of similar privates institutions then to out on their IT web site to see what interests you (note - with campus portals there is sometimes less information on public web sites).  From there, you can follow up directly with the CIO or Help Desk manager.

You also mention that you are working with a third party vendor for after hours support - I would imagine that they can help with best practices and assessment of technology as well but you may be looking for an assessment and insight from a neutral third party. Frankly, if they were not able to share some expertise then I would want to double check their overall value to the operation.  We live for these value added (best practices/lessons learned) things from our partners that help us improve our operations and if they are not providing that then there are others that will.

I hope this helps.  Please follow up off list if you would like to have a follow up on our Help Desk (actually we call it the Technical Support Center).

Curtis


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