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Teaching old dogs new tricks The evolution of the OUCS Help Centre Lou Burnard, OUCS Making IT work for the University? I’m trying to.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching old dogs new tricks The evolution of the OUCS Help Centre Lou Burnard, OUCS Making IT work for the University? I’m trying to."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching old dogs new tricks The evolution of the OUCS Help Centre Lou Burnard, OUCS Making IT work for the University? I’m trying to

2 2 Organizational change: the pattern Computing laboratory – Research facility for some specific academic departments Computing Service – Nationally-funded mainframe for the whole university Computing Services – Machine-defined services (ICL, VAX, ermine…) – Functionally defined services (micros, archival storage, humanities, typesetting… ) clustering around these – Research oriented services and facilities Strategic push towards distribution of services Good news: wider range of expertise and a richer variety of services Bad news: duplication of effort, risk of contradiction, drowning in data…

3 3 Duplication of effort: for example Where do I go to ask for help about OUCS ? – Local Support Staff – Advisory Service – Registration Desk – PC Consultancy – Learning and Resource Centre – Centre for Humanities Computing Aren’t these all doing much the same thing? – Well, yes and no… Will these all give me the same advice? – errr, probably

4 4 A reminder University policy is to devolve support to colleges, departments, divisions As a centrally funded department, OUCS has to consider the needs of the whole University This means we urgently need – to respond to changes in the pattern of use – to simplify access to our services By end-users By support staff

5 5 Access facilities Modes – Walk-in face-to-face consultation – Telephone – – Web Finding the right person Asking the right question

6 6 Wouldn’t it be nice if there was… An integrated knowledge-base of expertise Single point of contact for front-line walk-in support, coupled to learning access-points Single automated point of contact for telephone enquiry Single method of sharing, tracking, resolving queries

7 7 The Advisory Services Review Process October 2001: Helpdesk software procurement abandoned: implementation of low cost alternative begins November 2001: Internal “stake-holder” discussions (with ITSS representation) – Staffing, telephone service, training, facilities, Timetable – January: Detailed proposals for a unified Front office endorsed at OUCS SMG – February: implementation begins – April: Help Centre opens

8 8 At the same time… Internal reorganization of OUCS Four major groups – Infrastructure Services – Technical Services Group – Information and Support Group – Learning Technologies Group Repositioning and reprioritization of all services

9 9 OUCS Help Centre New walk-in service at Banbury Road support for – all OUCS front-end services basic computing queries basic registration queries administrative enquiries – direct access to self-help materials, books, videos… – specialist equipment (scanners, multimedia…) Cybercafe-style access to facilities

10 10 Telephone access Automated attendant installed by University Telecomms Help centre calls are routed to four pickup points Seems to be functioning well But is the new telephone:

11 11 Services The preferred route for advice and support Hoorah for request tracker! – Substantial R&D investment is now paying off – Integration with registration data via LDAP – Logging and monitoring of all services Involves all staff at some level

12 12 OUCS Help Centre Who does it? – Two fulltime managers – Two rotas Registration staff, operators, demonstrators Expert advisors from all parts of OUCS – Volunteers welcome! What’s in it for ITSS? – Single point of contact – All queries are monitored and tracked – Complements distributed services

13 13 Consultancy Services The OUCS virtual “back office” – Services all queries from RT – Buck-stops-here queries – Directly accessible for ITSS – Gives specialist advice by appointment Who does it? – All OUCS staff, potentially – An extension to itss-discuss

14 14 Desktop systems consultancy Hardware and software By appointment only May become chargeable (Fixed quota for Undergraduates) Need for university-wide agreement on systems supported

15 15 Who can use it? Anyone with a valid University card What, even undergraduates? – OUCS withdrew eligibility for support from all undergraduates in 1995 – This led to a marked improvement in provision of IT support by colleges and departments… – …and a decline in demand for support from OUCS to the point where it is uneconomic to make the distinction! It is the OUCS front window

16 16 Where does it fit? Information and Support Group components – Research Technologies Service – Information Services – ITS3 – Registration and Databases Gateway to complementary OUCS group activities – Desktop Services and NSMS – Infrastructure Group – Learning Technologies Group

17 17 Research Technologies Service Services – Oxford eScience Centre, – Humbul Humanities Hub, Oxford Text Archive – British National Corpus, Text Encoding Initiative Technologies – Corpus Linguistics – Computational analysis – Database technologies – Grid computing – Interoperability – Text encoding Keeping in touch with the leading edge…

18 18 Information Services Section Integration of web sites Single XML source driving – Web site – (with customizable styles) – Print documentation RSS feed / alerting service

19 19 ITS3 Promotes professional interests of IT support staff (training, awareness, lobbying…) Informal communications channel and clearing house OUCS has now allocated 2.5 staff full time to this activity, and will expand as demand and funding permit

20 20 Database and Registration Sections Development and maintenance of in-house database systems Special expertise in University administrative structure Work closely with Infrastructure in developing new technical solutions Provide extensive “back-office” support to Help Centre

21 21 How are we doing? Steady flow of RT tickets over the week Over 80% of all queries are resolved within a day Majority of clients are University staff, senior members or postgrads (under 10% are undergraduates)

22 22 Advisory ( ) tickets by day of week

23 23 Tickets raised in last 6 weeks, by queue

24 24 All tickets by enquirer (%)

25 25 Password changes in May, by enquirer

26 26 What’s next? New equipment to be installed over summer Training and recruitment exercise in the autumn Work with ITSS to develop common university policies – On support levels – On software and hardware – On building up the knowledgebase

27 27 (w) The ICT Committee will work with Personnel Services, OUCS and other relevant bodies to ensure that the University provides a sound working environment for IT support staff. [para 46] (x) The ICT Committee will work with the Personnel Committee to ensure that the outcome of the Bett Report results in a better understanding by departments and colleges of grading issues for IT support staff. [para 47] (y) OUCS will ensure that it builds and maintains a register of IT support staff, which it will use to ensure they receive focused support and development opportunities. [para 48] (z) OUCS will embark on a graduate trainee scheme, funding arrangements permitting. [para 48] (aa) All units recruiting and employing IT support staff should make adequate arrangements for providing appropriate training and development opportunities. [para 48] ITSS strategy according to ICTC


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