The Birth of BOSS811

Forsyth County, with the help of BOSS Solutions, has implemented a cloud based 811 ticketing solution BOSS811 to replace a costly web-based service for managing utility service marking/location requests.

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The state of Georgia has a central service where citizens can call 811 to have utility services lines marked before doing any construction or digging. The state office determines the local agencies responsible for providing those utility services and notifies that local agency about the utility marking request.

Forsyth County used a web-based vendor to track these service requests and to transmit status updates back to the state agency. The county paid the vendor for each service request posted on the vendor’s website, and there are 100-200 service requests each week. This web-based service was very limited, had no reporting functions and had no workflow to monitor/manage service requests.

BOSS Solutions worked closely with Forsyth County to replace the existing service request listing website with web services to receive an XML data feed from the Georgia state agency and turn that into Support Central tickets. Forsyth County water utility service crews use Support Central in the field to manage service requests. They have dashboard reports to list any emergency service requests and to show service requests inestimated completion date order. When service requests are completed, the Support Central web services transmit updates back to the Georgia state agency. We call the new BOSS Solutions application “BOSS811”.

The new BOSS811 service provides all of the functionality of the website listingservice and more. Support Central has workflow to monitor ticket status and escalate unassigned tickets. Timesheets can be used to track the time spent on each service request. Service crew workload can be tracked as tickets are assigned to crew members.

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How one US state got much needed Elections TLC from BOSS Solutions

 Elections.jpgElections can be a busy time for the State Departments and the sheer number of requests from county precincts can be
overwhelming. The Elections Division of the GA Secretary of State’s Office organizes and oversees all election activity, including voter registration, municipal, state, county, and federal elections. They are responsible for certification of election results as well as certifying the qualification of candidates and preparation of ballots and election forms and materials. State departments have multiple zonal officers who manage various geographical areas to address incidents and requests quickly and efficiently.  It is the dream of every Secretary of State to have one efficient solution that will handle county request submissions, workflow routing based on the business process, escalations on pending requests beyond SLA, email notifications, and dashboard reporting. 

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Considerations when choosing a new IT Service Management tool

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When it comes to deciding on a new IT Service Management solution for your organization, there’s a wide array of products to choose from. Whilst certain considerations such as size, budget and specific organizational needs will be different from one company to the next, there are some essential criteria areas that will be common among most during the ITSM tool selection process. Here, we examine the eight key elements that should to be considered during the decision making process.

1) Out of the box readiness

It’s obvious that choosing a tool that most suits your needs straight out of the box will always be more convenient to get set up and functioning compared to a tool that requires lots of early stage configuration. What is often less obvious during this stage of the selection process is checking to see if the product will require any additional software packages in order to operate as required and also deliver any specific requirements that the organization has. As well as this, considerations should be given and even tested as to the specific platforms the new product will support such as Windows operating systems, browser editions and mobile compatibilities.

2) Customization and flexibility

Many tools allow the flexibility to easily customize components of the product such as forms, fields, reports, workflows and permissions. The ability to customize these items is often a very important deciding factor when choosing a new ITSM product. Not having the ability to customize such areas of the product prevents you from being able to tailor the product to your organization’s needs now and in the future. Even if the product does allow for customization, consideration should be given as to how easily these changes can be made. Will it require a third party consultant or can the customizations be carried out by internal IT resource. Similarly, it’s important to check if future software updates will have any effect on both the customizations that have been made and on any third party integrations that work with the product such as remote desktop platforms.

3) On premise or hosted

For many organizations choosing a product that has the option of being hosted or being available via the cloud makes sense. Typically a hosted product requires little or no maintenance, has no additional cost in terms of hardware and can easily be accessed from anywhere using most web browsers. However, many organizations still prefer to keep such products hosted locally so that they can easily and securely access to the information that’s contained in its databases. The other advantage of having the data readily available is in a scenario of having to migrate the information to a different product at a later stage. As the data is hosted in your environment, it’s often easier to extract and move to a new database than it would be if the data resides in the cloud.

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Addressing the pains of systems migrations and infrastructure changes - Part 3

Blog_part_3.pngIn part one of this series, we examined the increasing security risks faced by organizations running outdated operating systems. While many businesses still rely on Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 environments, the implications of unsupported architecture can have a major impact on business operations. In part two of the series, we explored the system requirements and configurations that should be considered as you to prepare your environment for operating system migrations.

In this final installment of the series, we will delve into the best practice considerations that should be applied to assist with the smooth and successful completion of operating system migrations.

As any IT professional or service desk technician knows, with changes to an organizations IT infrastructure, be it a new phone system, a new network or in this particular case new operating systems, comes the inevitable end user issues. To be fair this needs to be expected as these users have for the last few years been using systems they are familiar with navigating on a day to day basis. Then, the introduction of the new operating system that they are expected to use, with its increased functionality and alternative interfaces that many of these users have never worked with before now.

However, before the flood gates open of helpdesk tickets from end users requiring assistance with the new operating system, a proactive stance can easily lessen the burden on your IT department by providing training on the new systems before the upgrade. Often the simplest approach leading up to the new software roll out is to schedule a series of dedicated training sessions that are conducted by the IT team, where end users can learn about the new operating system and become familiar navigating the new interface of the product. Coordinating such training sessions in conjunction with your HR department will also assist in staff participation and reinforce the importance of the training.

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