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Colleagues,

Currently, we have a very simple method of posting IT service alerts to our website. I am looking for a much more robust system where distributed contributors can simply and quickly post and categorize service disruptions. We need a system where visual (graphical dashboard), textual postings, homepage feed, and email alerts are all triggered as part of a single process. 

I have been looking at many higher ed IT websites to see what others are doing. Some look Sharepoint-ish, others look homegrown, and I saw a few Wordpress sites.

Would you please share how your system works? Pros and cons? Are you aware of any off-the-shelf applications?

Thanks,
Jennifer

JENNIFER SMITH, PMP | THE NEW SCHOOL
DIRECTOR OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT | INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

55 W. 13TH ST., 7TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10011
P | 212.229.5300 x4568 E | smithj2@newschool.edu URL | www.newschool.edu


********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

Hi Jennifer:

We just did this last year at the University of Rochester. We went from a homegrown system that just wasn't very efficient or maintainable to a customized, self-hosted WordPress site. Our site is only accessible from our network, so I've attached a few screenshots for you.

WordPress made sense for us because of its native blog functionality. We have 10-20 Help Desk agents that can update the site as disruptions/outages occur or as maintenance is scheduled, using custom post templates we built in for them. When a contributor posts an update, the homepage feed is automatically updated (displaying in reverse chronological order) and an email is automatically sent to our IT staff (central and departmental) and anyone else who has subscribed to receive notices (opt-in). Some users use RSS readers to get their updates, and we also pull the feed to display on other websites—for example, on the sidebar of articles on our IT news website. We customized the site to automatically show an icon next to each title to visually indicate what type of notice it is—this is based on the category that the contributor selects when publishing it.

Users can view notices on the website by:
  • Date
  • Service (using tagging functionality native to WordPress)
  • Type (using category functionality native to WordPress)
  • Keyword search

We've received positive feedback from our community since the switch. The Help Desk agents like the ease of using the WordPress dashboard and that the notification process has been streamlined. IT staff like the speed and consistency of the email updates compared to the previous system and manual processes. Users have commented that they like the simplicity and usability of the website and that they can subscribe for updates.

Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Sara


Sara May
Senior Communications Associate
Office of the Vice President for IT/CIO
University of Rochester
Brighton Business Center
585.276.3873

On 2/24/14 1:39 PM, "Kevin Reeve" <Kevin.Reeve@USU.EDU> wrote:

Jennifer,

We built this, modeling it after the way google does things.

We also have a widget that can be included on pages.  You can see it at the bottom left of it.usu.edu[it.usu.edu] with the green indicator.
We have had it for a year, but no one really in our organization is willing to take the time to update it.  Manual process. 
So I am looking for a way to automate its update possibly through service now.

Kevin
Utah State University 


Thanks to you all! I am going to followup with a few of you for a little more information. You have some nice solutions.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

JENNIFER SMITH, PMP | THE NEW SCHOOL
DIRECTOR OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT | INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

55 W. 13TH ST., 7TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10011
P | 212.229.5300 x4568 E | smithj2@newschool.edu URL | www.newschool.edu




At the University of Georgia, we use a homegrown solution for our service alerts, which we call Status. It’s available at http://status.uga.edu

All technical system owners can post to Status during an outage or upcoming maintenance. I’m trying to do a better job getting Status postings more in advance, since people outside of our central IT department can view them. 

Status is intended to be timely 24/7, so that’s why any technical staff member (with the proper access) can post — not just me in communications or the Help Desk. The standard template includes a summary, anticipated time of resolution, impact on users and actions being taken. Many times, it’s just a very brief, initial “We’re receiving reports of this system being unavailable, but we don’t have an answer now” type of post. At least we’re notifying people that we’re aware of a system outage.

The Status postings are automatically distributed via email alerts to our IT professionals on campus. This system has made a huge difference in keeping our non-central IT departments informed of upcoming maintenance work and unanticipated outages. Funny, but when we recently had a major outage in our data center and we were frequently updating Status, some IT people said we were giving them TOO MUCH information! 

Status used to be integrated with Twitter, but we’ve had some technical issues. We’ve had some internal discussions about commercial products that could support what we want for Status. Some solutions include http://www.stashboard.org and https://www.statuspage.io

Hope that helps,
Kerri

Kerri Testement

Public Relations Coordinator

EITS (Enterprise Information Technology Services)

University of Georgia

176 Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center

Office: 706-542-8831

Fax: 706-542-6105

Email: kerriuga@uga.edu


From: <May>, Sara <sara.may@ROCHESTER.EDU>
Reply-To: The EDUCAUSE IT Communications Constituent Group Listserv <ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Date: Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM
To: "ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU" <ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Subject: Re: [ITCOMM] IT service alerts systems

Hi Jennifer:

We just did this last year at the University of Rochester. We went from a homegrown system that just wasn't very efficient or maintainable to a customized, self-hosted WordPress site. Our site is only accessible from our network, so I've attached a few screenshots for you.

WordPress made sense for us because of its native blog functionality. We have 10-20 Help Desk agents that can update the site as disruptions/outages occur or as maintenance is scheduled, using custom post templates we built in for them. When a contributor posts an update, the homepage feed is automatically updated (displaying in reverse chronological order) and an email is automatically sent to our IT staff (central and departmental) and anyone else who has subscribed to receive notices (opt-in). Some users use RSS readers to get their updates, and we also pull the feed to display on other websites—for example, on the sidebar of articles on our IT news website. We customized the site to automatically show an icon next to each title to visually indicate what type of notice it is—this is based on the category that the contributor selects when publishing it.

Users can view notices on the website by:
  • Date
  • Service (using tagging functionality native to WordPress)
  • Type (using category functionality native to WordPress)
  • Keyword search

We've received positive feedback from our community since the switch. The Help Desk agents like the ease of using the WordPress dashboard and that the notification process has been streamlined. IT staff like the speed and consistency of the email updates compared to the previous system and manual processes. Users have commented that they like the simplicity and usability of the website and that they can subscribe for updates.

Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Sara


Sara May
Senior Communications Associate
Office of the Vice President for IT/CIO
University of Rochester
Brighton Business Center
585.276.3873

On 2/24/14 1:39 PM, "Kevin Reeve" <Kevin.Reeve@USU.EDU> wrote:

Jennifer,

We built this, modeling it after the way google does things.

We also have a widget that can be included on pages.  You can see it at the bottom left of it.usu.edu[it.usu.edu] with the green indicator.
We have had it for a year, but no one really in our organization is willing to take the time to update it.  Manual process. 
So I am looking for a way to automate its update possibly through service now.

Kevin
Utah State University 


At Illinois State University, we use a homegrown solution which has evolved over time. We call it Tech Alerts and is available at http://alerts.illinoisstate.edu/.

 

Posting to Tech Alerts is handled by our service desk, the Technology Support Center (TSC). At one time, we envisioned service owners and admins being able to post to the page, but in our experience, that happened irregularly at best. Our new process is such that when an admin wants to report scheduled maintenance or a service outage, they will send an email to a special email address which in turn creates a high priority ticket in our ticket system. The service desk then acts on the ticket by posting to the Tech Alerts site.

 

Postings to our Tech Alerts site are categorized as Maintenance, Outage, or Performance Degraded. We also use this site to post about security and malware issues (which are very rare), as well as phishing emails that target the University (not so rare). When a post is created or updated, notifications are sent to all subscribers. Students, faculty, and staff all have the option of signing up to get email and/or text notifications from the system. IT staff are mandatorily subscribed to email notifications and cannot unsubscribe as long as they are in an IT role. The Tech Alerts site also offers an RSS feed which some IT units on campus consume and display on their own websites.

 

Thanks,

Justin Smith

Client Services | Administrative Technologies

Illinois State University

 

 

From: The EDUCAUSE IT Communications Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Kerri Testement
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:09 PM
To: ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [ITCOMM] IT service alerts systems

 

At the University of Georgia, we use a homegrown solution for our service alerts, which we call Status. It’s available at http://status.uga.edu

 

All technical system owners can post to Status during an outage or upcoming maintenance. I’m trying to do a better job getting Status postings more in advance, since people outside of our central IT department can view them. 

 

Status is intended to be timely 24/7, so that’s why any technical staff member (with the proper access) can post — not just me in communications or the Help Desk. The standard template includes a summary, anticipated time of resolution, impact on users and actions being taken. Many times, it’s just a very brief, initial “We’re receiving reports of this system being unavailable, but we don’t have an answer now” type of post. At least we’re notifying people that we’re aware of a system outage.

 

The Status postings are automatically distributed via email alerts to our IT professionals on campus. This system has made a huge difference in keeping our non-central IT departments informed of upcoming maintenance work and unanticipated outages. Funny, but when we recently had a major outage in our data center and we were frequently updating Status, some IT people said we were giving them TOO MUCH information! 

 

Status used to be integrated with Twitter, but we’ve had some technical issues. We’ve had some internal discussions about commercial products that could support what we want for Status. Some solutions include http://www.stashboard.org and https://www.statuspage.io

 

Hope that helps,

Kerri

 

Kerri Testement

Public Relations Coordinator

EITS (Enterprise Information Technology Services)

University of Georgia

176 Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center

Office: 706-542-8831

Fax: 706-542-6105

Email: kerriuga@uga.edu

 

From: <May>, Sara <sara.may@ROCHESTER.EDU>
Reply-To: The EDUCAUSE IT Communications Constituent Group Listserv <ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Date: Monday, February 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM
To: "ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU" <ITCOMM@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Subject: Re: [ITCOMM] IT service alerts systems

 

Hi Jennifer:

 

We just did this last year at the University of Rochester. We went from a homegrown system that just wasn't very efficient or maintainable to a customized, self-hosted WordPress site. Our site is only accessible from our network, so I've attached a few screenshots for you.

 

WordPress made sense for us because of its native blog functionality. We have 10-20 Help Desk agents that can update the site as disruptions/outages occur or as maintenance is scheduled, using custom post templates we built in for them. When a contributor posts an update, the homepage feed is automatically updated (displaying in reverse chronological order) and an email is automatically sent to our IT staff (central and departmental) and anyone else who has subscribed to receive notices (opt-in). Some users use RSS readers to get their updates, and we also pull the feed to display on other websites—for example, on the sidebar of articles on our IT news website. We customized the site to automatically show an icon next to each title to visually indicate what type of notice it is—this is based on the category that the contributor selects when publishing it.

 

Users can view notices on the website by:

  • Date
  • Service (using tagging functionality native to WordPress)
  • Type (using category functionality native to WordPress)
  • Keyword search

 

We've received positive feedback from our community since the switch. The Help Desk agents like the ease of using the WordPress dashboard and that the notification process has been streamlined. IT staff like the speed and consistency of the email updates compared to the previous system and manual processes. Users have commented that they like the simplicity and usability of the website and that they can subscribe for updates.

 

Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

 

Sara

 

 

Sara May

Senior Communications Associate

Office of the Vice President for IT/CIO

University of Rochester

Brighton Business Center

585.276.3873

 

On 2/24/14 1:39 PM, "Kevin Reeve" <Kevin.Reeve@USU.EDU> wrote:

 

Jennifer,

 

We built this, modeling it after the way google does things.

 

We also have a widget that can be included on pages.  You can see it at the bottom left of it.usu.edu[it.usu.edu] with the green indicator.

We have had it for a year, but no one really in our organization is willing to take the time to update it.  Manual process. 

So I am looking for a way to automate its update possibly through service now.

 

Kevin

Utah State University 

 

 

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