My Story - How 811 Damage Prevention became my calling!

How 811 Damage Prevention became my calling

 

If you would have asked me 15 years ago what I wanted to do and was working towards, Damage Prevention would have been the last thing I would have said.  I was studying constitutional law and theatre at a small private university in Indiana.  I had a 5 year plan that would take me through law school. However, life took a few surprise turns changing the carefully made plans over the following 4 years.  

 

Damage Prevention blog post

 

In February 2010, I started working for Underground Safety Alliance, the umbrella organization for Indiana811 and Kentucky811 as a Damage Prevention Specialist, taking one call tickets for homeowners and excavators.  At first it was just a “job” to make ends meet while I figured out what I wanted as a career.  Although I took every call seriously, my heart wasn’t in it. 

 

Change comes with a ring

Then I took a call that changed my life.  I had been at the call center for about a year.  “Thank you for calling 811. My name is Kristin, how may I help you?”

 

“We were digging and we hit a gas line,” said a terrified voice on the other end of the line. 

 

Processing a damage ticket wasn’t new, I had helped report numerous damages in that first year. Except the voice on the other side was scared and unsure, and there was an odd whooshing noise. This was not going to be a typical damage reporting call.    

 

It was two homeowners who had just hit a line, and were standing within feet of the blowing gas. At once I realized what the background noise was, even though I had never heard it before.  Immediately, I instructed them to move slowly away from the gas line, at least 100 feet.  The last thing these frightened people needed was a random spark igniting the gas filled air.  

 

After they were far enough away, I needed to calm them so we could continue and make not only them, but their neighborhood safe. The panicked edge in their voice took a couple of moments to reduce, but the moment it did, I asked if the homeowners had called 911.  Unfortunately they had not, so that was our first task to accomplish.  After having them confirm again that they were a safe distance away, the one person stayed on the phone with me while the other used their phone to contact the fire department.  

 

By this point the initial panic from both of the homeowners had receded. While one talked to emergency services and then the gas utility, the other one and I were able to complete the Damage Ticket. It has been a long time since that call, and while I don't remember if they had called to have the line marked before they started digging, that call stayed with me. It was the catalyst for my dedication to damage prevention. 

 

Damage Prevention-my passion!

 

Since that call I have been passionate about Damage Prevention. I threw my whole self into every phone call and resulting locate request.  I wanted to protect others from injury due to unsafe digging.  I learned everything I could about the 811 process. 

It wasn’t long until my superiors and others took notice of the dedication developing within me and I was given more opportunities to learn about damage prevention, advancing from taking tickets to working directly with the member utilities, learning every step of the way. Once I started working with the utilities is where I really found my stride.

 

I love helping utilities protect their facilities and keep job sites safe. Without those markings on the ground anyone who disturbs the dirt could get hurt, and I wanted to be a part of a solution that helps utilities get their locating accomplished.  That is how I ended up here at BOSS Solutions.  Now I am able to help provide support for the utilities to manage their one call tickets.  

  

I still adore learning more about damage prevention, and incorporating what I am learning into our BOSS811 solution.  I am committed to our customers and how we can partner together to minimize damages.  

 

Now if someone asks me what my calling is, the answer is easy: Damage Prevention!


 

BOSS Solutions is a proud partner in Damage Prevention

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About the Author:

Kristin Reed is a Senior Support Engineer with BOSS Solutions. Kristin has been part of the Damage Prevention Industry for 11 years. She is committed to helping utilities and locators protect their facilities and keeping excavators safe at the dig site.

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Why You Should Always Call 811 Before You Dig - A Reminder On 811 Day

811 Day Graphic 1-2

Why You Should Always Call 811 Before You Dig - A Reminder On National 811 Day

Damage to underground utility lines is a major problem in the United States. Incidents caused by unsafe digging practices can compromise community safety and disconnect people from critical services. This is why the 811 service remains one of the most important national services available to contractors and homeowners. 

In this article, we will be discussing what 811 day is and why it is essential to always call 811 before you dig!

What is 811? 

811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground utility line.

 

811 Day is an annual initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to ensure that the practice of safe digging is echoed in communities by calling 8-1-1, a nationwide toll-free number, before any excavation project. 

 

811 is an essential service for damage prevention and seeks to eliminate damages caused by digging, which remains the leading cause of pipeline incidents. The 811 service was enacted due to a disaster that occurred in the late ’60s, where there was a major accident on the west coast that caused major gas leakages, fires, and power outages due to improper digging. In response to this, the 811 law was passed.

 

The 811 law required that all companies (including utilities/government agencies) or individuals who undertake an excavation project call 811 prior to start of the project. It also required lines and markings to be drawn around areas to indicate the presence of pipelines, cables, fiber underneath the surface. Each state has their own unique processes and laws for digging.

When an 811 call is received, the call center is required to create a Locate Request Ticket referred to as One Call ticket. Additionally, it mandated that all the utility companies respond to 811 tickets (referred to as one-call tickets) raised by the excavators with the call centers within a certain timeframe. These call centers have the important responsibility of managing, tracking, and closing these tickets with the goal of minimizing the occurrence of accidents. 

Why It Is Important To Dig Safely 

 

Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged or destroyed because an excavator did not properly mark the warning lines before digging. The depth and placement of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons including erosion, previous digging projects, and uneven surfaces, which makes planning and preparation very important. 

Making assumptions about where the utility lines are under your property can be extremely dangerous. Even striking a single line can result in injury, significant repair costs, fines, and inconvenient outages for you and your neighbors. 

 

The odds for avoiding disaster during these dig-ins improve by nearly 99% if lines are properly marked in advance. If protocols are not followed and 811 is not consulted, there can be significant damages to not just the immediate area, but the entire community. When excavators follow the federal guidelines and ensure they are digging properly, damages and accidents can be avoided. This is what makes 811 so important - it provides a very useful service to mitigate accidents and damages!

One of the major organizations promoting safe digging and Damage Prevention is the Common Ground Alliance (CGA). It is a member driven alliance committed to saving lives and preventing damage to North American underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. Membership in the CGA is open to all stakeholders with a genuine interest in reducing damages to the underground infrastructure. CGA’s top-tier members represent some of the largest companies and organizations in North America.

How To Dig Safely 

 

Excavators must take a proactive approach to safety by utilizing the 811 One-Call System and adhering to the following steps of a safe excavation:

  • Always call before you dig.

Federal and state laws require you to place a locate request prior to digging or excavating. It is also good practice to ensure you know about the area you are going to dig.

  • Wait the required time.

Once you call, you will need to wait in order for the call center to determine the details of your site and project. Do not begin excavating prior to your stated start date and time.

  • Confirm Utility Response

After the call center has notified member utilities of the pending excavation, you are responsible for making sure each utility operator has responded prior to digging.

  • Respect the Marks

Familiarize yourself with the markings and the locations of buried facilities at the site prior to excavation.

  • Dig With Care!

Dig test holes to verify location, type, size, direction-of-run, and depth of the marked facility. Remember - you can never be too careful in these situations!

As you can tell, the call centers that handle the one-call ticketing processes play a crucial role in damage prevention.  Also the improvements in efficiency with which the utilities respond to these tickets will result in significantly reduced damages and accidents.

BOSS Solutions created an industry-leading Cloud based One-Call Ticketing  solution with this objective in mind. BOSS811 is a cloud based One Call Ticket Management Solution for Municipalities, Utilities and Locator Companies managing excavation requests.

It comes with an award winning UI and easy navigation. With Facility map integration, it provides a visual component for effective management and tracking of dig requests. The  powerful ticket screening capability makes it easy to close tickets automatically or alert appropriate locators.

BOSS Solutions is a proud partner in damage prevention.

 

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About the Author:

Kristin Reed is a Senior Support Engineer with BOSS Solutions. Kristin has been part of the Damage Prevention Industry for 11 years. She is committed to helping utilities and locators protect their facilities and keeping excavators safe at the dig site.

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Help Desk vs. Service Desk: Which one is right for your Organization?

HelpDesk vs ServiceDesk

Help Desk vs. Service Desk 

 

When it comes to IT ticketing and workflow, some teams use the terms ‘help desk’ and ‘service desk’ interchangeably. However, there are important differences between these two forms of  technical support.

 

These differences mostly stem from the terms’ origins. The service desk is a more recently introduced concept. It focuses heavily on the rising need for excellent customer service. The help desk, by contrast, has been around for as long as there have been internal IT problems to resolve.

 

To help you decide which one is right for your organization, we’ll dig a little deeper into the functions of each option.

What is a Help Desk?

A help desk, also called a HelpDesk or IT help desk, typically focuses on incident management and problem resolution. The help desk team isn’t necessarily antisocial. However, it is often more invested in solving problems quickly rather than providing friendly service to end-users.

 

Many modern help desks in fact don’t interact with customers. Instead, they focus only on supporting internal IT needs. The help desk tracks incidents, solves problems, performs routing, and generally manages IT ticket workflow. It often is limited to Level 1 & 2 support in enterprise companies with the ability to manage service levels.


 

Help desks handle incidents, which are unplanned interruptions to, or reduced quality of, IT service. This includes things like computers not booting up, trouble logging in, or issues with a network connection. A help desk can provide a quick fix to resolve these issues.

 

When it comes to service requests, such as user requests for information or advice, IT help desks usually don’t have the capacity to meet customer demands. Yet, organizations can’t solely focus on minimizing employee downtime. To ensure positive customer experiences, they must make it easy for users to report issues and provide great customer service while resolving them. This calls for a service desk.

 

What is a Service Desk?

Sometimes called ServiceDesk, this support focuses more heavily on providing high-quality care when handling service requests. A service desk communicates directly with end-users such as customers and can also resolve internal incidents. The service desk handles service delivery by walking users through onboarding or provisioning access to software like Office 365, for example.

 

A service desk considers the big picture and the user experience of technical support. It may provide self-service options like articles explaining how to perform certain functions. Some service desk teams even manage online communities and forums where users ask questions and report incidents.

 

The service desk likely uses a help desk to close tickets and perform service request management. It also does much more. The team works proactively across an organization to improve IT management. If an opportunity to increase technical efficiency arises, you can trust the service desk to pursue it.

 

Ultimately, a service desk is more powerful than a help desk and more valuable for organizations with a growing customer base.

What About ITSM and ITIL?

While learning about help desks and service desks, you may have come across the terms ‘ITSM’ and ‘ITIL’.

 

  • ITSM stands for IT Service Management. This concept goes beyond even the service desk. ITSM includes everything IT in an organization and the planning and development of new IT services.

 

  • ITIL stands for IT Infrastructure Library. The ITIL describes a detailed framework for IT service best practices. It acts as an industry standard in IT, guides organizations in their pursuit to deliver quality services, and increases user satisfaction. Interested individuals can seek ITIL certification through qualified providers.

 

Especially large organizations like enterprise companies may require robust ITSM to manage their complex needs. They may also seek ITIL-certified individuals to include on their IT team.

 

Do You Need a Service Desk or Help Desk?

For a new organization, a Help Desk meets internal IT needs.

 

However, as a company grows, it will need a Service Desk. IT is becoming a business enabler that does far more than just resolving technical issues. This is especially true with the increased need to support users who are working remotely. Dependence on integration to third-party tools has also increased.

 

Management teams recognize that it’s more important than ever to enhance the user experience and improve the quality of services with the help of a service desk. If you’re dealing with rapidly growing demand on IT, a service desk is likely the best option.

 

Identifying a solution helps you build ITSM that enables organization-wide efficiency and increases user satisfaction. A solution that helps you get started quickly and easily make changes or improvements as needed lets you implement best practices without costing an arm and a leg.

Find the Best Service Desk For Your Organization

There are many service desk options available on the market today. However, you don’t want to pay for a system with features that don’t meet your needs. To identify the strongest solutions, here are some key things you’ll want to look for in a modern service desk:

 

  • Management. Be sure your solution manages everything: incidents, assets, problems, changes, contracts, and purchases.
  • Compatibility. Ideal service desks are accessible and usable across devices, including tablets and mobile phones for easily tagging and scanning assets.
  • Security. Check to make sure your service desk provider is compliant with IT security and other requirements.
  • Visibility. Robust solutions offer dashboards, reporting, real-time data, and business intelligence you can use to help make better decisions for your company.
  • Versatility. Service desk technology should be able to handle individual accounts as well as make bulk updates and changes when needed, like auto-resolving related requests.
  • Integrations. Does your organization already use warranty check software and other third-party solutions? A service desk that integrates with them means smoother implementation.
  • ITIL Practices. A service desk that uses best practices can be trusted.
  • ITSM Capability. This especially goes for large or growing companies.

Whether your organization is small or large, we have the right Help Desk/ Service Desk with advanced capabilities that can grow with your organization . BOSSDesk is a highly-ranked integrated ITIL service solution noted for its ease of use and customizability. With U.S.-based support and affordable pricing, organizations can meet all their Help desk, Service desk, and ITSM needs in one place.

          Get a free Demo of BOSSDesk Cloud or On Premise today! 

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How to Choose the Right Help Desk for your Organization

How to choose the right Help Desk

 

How to choose the right Help Desk  

 

No matter how great your product or service is, it is inevitable that eventually there will be a need for customer support systems. It really doesn’t matter whether they have encountered a small error, are having trouble setting up their account, or if they simply have a recommendation - what matters is that the issue is resolved. 

Not a lot of technical importance is placed on a great Help Desk, but in reality, it is one of the most important ways to maximize customer retention and maintain a great image for your business. Whether for simple customer service or a more in-depth ITSM Service Desk , having a customer support system in place is essential for long-term success. 

This is the key takeaway - establishing great customer service can set your company up for long-term success and ensure that your most dedicated customers have great things to say about you and understand that you care! While most companies establish this service very early on, it is crucial to have a great Help Desk in place before your business grows to a level where you can’t handle it all on your own. 

 

What is a Help Desk and Why Does Your Company Need One? 

 

At its simplest, A Help Desk is a tool that provides the first point of contact for tracking, prioritizing, and acting on any issues your customers and end-users have.

This is a big task for a single service! There is the potential to receive questions on a myriad of issues ranging from payment issues, profile issues, disputes, and much, much more. While this may sound like a very tall order, there are some very effective tools and strategies that you can employ to organize and effectively handle all of the issues that come your way. 

One study actually found that as a whole, companies in the US lose about $62B in revenue each year due to poor customer service. Even further, people who have bad experiences are much more likely to tell more friends about them than positive experiences. So as you can tell, a Help Desk is extremely necessary! 

 

Your Help Desk can do this and more:

  • Offer a single point of contact: When things don’t work, your customers need to know where to turn. Having a Help Desk means issues are organized and easily addressed. 
  • Quickly and intuitively answer questions: Help Desks should provide answers quickly either through a live agent, chatbot, or self-service.
  • Support your support team: A good Help Desk also makes it clear what your support team needs to do. It provides workflows and resources that help them do their job effectively.
  • Help you measure how you’re doing: Lastly, your Help Desk should give you opportunities to measure your support efforts and find out where you hit (or missed) the mark for customers.

How To Pick the Right Helpdesk For Your Company

Whether for ITSM, ITIL, or incident management, customer support services can help you to increase customer retention and improve overall company efficiency. 

What makes for a great Help Desk?

A great helpdesk, at its simplest, should be able to organize and address a large volume of requests daily. This requires an efficient workflow and some intelligent management and software to achieve. Some of the most common features of a great Help Desk include: 

  1. Email support: Storing, organizing, and prioritizing emails sent to your generic support address and converting them into tickets for your support reps to work through.
  2. FAQs: A resource filled with answers to common questions and best practices that can help to solve issues before they are brought to your attention. 
  3. Community Forums: Some companies create forums where users and agents can answer questions and create easily accessible content around specific issues .
  4. Live chat/Chatbots: Many new Help Desk companies are focused on giving “instant” support through on-page chat boxes. Obviously, the downside of offering instant support is that you need someone manning it 24/7 (or close to it), but chatbots can help to free up this load so your agents can focus on pressing issues. 

Try to outline your own support workflow and see what features you’ll need to maintain and streamline it. Think through the different kind of support requests you’ll get: bugs, questions, technical problems, feature requests, partnership requests, etc… For each scenario map out the process of dealing with them, 

If you are in the information technology (IT) space, it is important to build a system that aligns business and IT goals. Having an IT Service Management structure in place can be invaluable. IT Service Management (ITSM) is a set of policies, processes, and procedures for managing the implementation, improvement, and support of customer-oriented IT services. Unlike other IT management practices that focus on hardware, network, or systems, ITSM aims to consistently improve IT customer service in alignment with business goals. Having an ITIL framework established is a very popular method to ensure that businesses can pick and choose operational processes that are the most relevant to their goals

 

Creating a great support system isn’t simple. But with the right Help Desk, like BOSSDesk it doesn’t have to be a headache. 

Sign up for a free demo of BOSSDesk, our award winning Help Desk On the Cloud and On-Premise

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A Help Desk is one of those tools that everyone needs but not too many people outside of support think about. But they’re not just for answering basic questions or fielding feature requests. Your Help Desk is a great tool for user retention, research, and acquisition. It’s a direct line to your customers and a fantastic opportunity for everyone in your company to learn from them.

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Why Service Request Management (SRM) Matters

Service Request Mgt Blog2

Service Request Management (SRM) - Why IT Matters

A laptop computer - by itself - provides little value.

Think about it.  At the risk of stating the obvious, without an operating system, productivity software, network connectivity, anti-virus and security software, web browser, user account, and other enablers, a laptop computer is little more than an expensive paper-weight.

But let’s take this one step further.

Unless you are purchasing a laptop computer for your personal use, you likely aren’t thinking of all of the various individual enablers that might be needed to make the use of that laptop valuable to you when making a service request.  All you have to do is register a service request with your service provider and ask for a laptop computer.  As part of fulfilling that request, all of the needed enablers are included.  

This above scenario is a simple, but great illustration of why Service Request Management (SRM) matters.  SRM is all about delivering products and performing service actions that enable service consumers to get things done.

Why is good Service Request Management so important?

Service Request Management is one of the most visible service management practices within an organization.  And whether the SRM practice is formally defined or not, every organization is practicing SRM.  The question is “how well is SRM being done?”

Done well, SRM is a “satisfier” and drives positive user and employee experiences.  Improves efficiency and efficacy, 

Done poorly, SRM is a source of cost-overruns, unmet expectations, needless bureaucracy, and damaged reputations.

Yet, in many organizations, SRM is taken for granted

Seven good reasons why good SRM matters

In many organizations, SRM could be considered the “store front” for a service provider. Many organizations develop self-service portals that are inviting, well-organized, and simple to use. But good SRM is much more than just a self-service portal.  

SRM provides a standard, consistent channel through which service consumers and service providers interact. The SRM practice provides a means for accessing and realizing value for both service consumers and service providers.

Here are seven good reasons why good SRM matters:

  • Captures and measures the demand for IT products and services.  Is IT providing the right kind of products, support, and service actions at the right levels and at the right times?  What are the trends in service requests?  Are there opportunities for improvement? Good SRM provides the means for finding the answers to these questions and more.
  • Provides the key pillar for automation.  Many organizations would like to automate routine actions, but often fall short because of a lack of understanding what needs to be automated in the first place.  Simply put, you can’t automate what you don’t understand.  Defining request models – the repeatable and consistent steps involved in fulfilling service requests – is a critical first step for enabling automation and orchestration of service requests.  
  • Provides the operational fulfillment of organizational strategy.   Senior management defines the strategy and the budget for the use of technology within the organization. This strategy then becomes the basis for the design of services and the associated service actions and products for consuming those services.  It is the SRM that provides the tangible, day-to-day means for delivering those products and service actions by which the organization realizes achievement of its business strategy.  
  • Enables positive user and employee experiences.  When users can easily and effectively request and receive the products and service actions that they need to do their jobs, that leads to positive user (UX) and employee experiences (EX).  
  • Sets good expectations – and then delivers on those expectations.  Often the source of frustration for both service consumers and service providers is that sometimes neither party is clear in regards to what they should expect when it come to service requests.  Good SRM practices clearly articulate and publicize what both the service consumer and service provider should expect with every service request. 
  • Provides the ability to demonstrate adherence to or compliance with policies.  By using the standard products and service actions delivered by the SRM practice, consumers within an organization can be assured that they will be following applicable organizational policies.  So, whether it’s a password reset, delivery of a new smartphone or laptop, or any other request, the products and service actions delivered as part of the SRM practice are designed to comply with organizational policies. 
  • Provides the basis for effective self-service.  Most service requests are well-known and occur frequently.  These kinds of service requests are ideal candidates for requesting and fulfilling via self-service – and it delivers a win-win.  Not only are consumers empowered to work at their own pace and schedule, but the service provider is also freed up to spend more time and resources on more complex issues or work on other business initiatives. 
     
    Used right your ITIL Service Desk can really simplify Service Request Management

Does your Service Request Management matter?

Service Request Management (SRM), done well, makes a huge positive impact on organizations.  But if SRM isn’t making a difference in your organization, here are three things to do. 

  • Talk to stakeholders.  The people interacting with SRM – both from the provider and consumer perspectives – are the best source of information for how SRM can be improved.  What is their experience with SRM?  Where does friction exist within SRM?  Are there any bottlenecks or gaps that providers or consumers are having to work through? 
  • Take a look at service requests from the “outside in” perspective.  Often, service providers design SRM practices from the “inside out” – only considering what is required for the provider to capture and fulfill requests.  Start with the most frequently-occurring requests from the perspective of the requester – and ensure that they are intuitive to use and reflective of the work that needs to be done.
  • Review your SRM measures – Are you measuring the parameters that indicate that SRM matters?  Yes, there are the foundational SRM measures common to all organizations (time to fulfil, number of requests, etc.), but are you measuring (and publicizing) the parameters that make SRM matter to your organization?  For example, are you capturing the measures that indicate realization of organizational strategy, policy compliance, or positive UX/EX?  

    BOSSDesk provides a great user experience making it very easy for users to manage Service Requests


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About Doug Tedder: Doug Tedder is the principal consultant of Tedder Consulting LLC, a service management and IT governance consultancy. He is a recognized ITSM thought leader and holds numerous industry certifications ranging from ITIL®, COBIT®, Lean IT, DevOps, KCS™, VeriSM™, and Organizational Change Management. Doug is an author, blogger, and frequent speaker at local industry meetings and national conventions.  

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Don’t let your organization take Service Request Management for granted!

The often-taken-for-granted Service Request Management Practice

by Doug Tedder

Service Request Mgt Graphic3

Password reset.

Order a new laptop or smartphone.

Move a workspace to a new location.

Ask a question about the ERP solution in use within the organization.

These are all common, everyday interactions between a user and an IT organization, right?

These interactions are known within service management as “service requests”. ITIL® 4 defines[1] a service request as “a request from a user…that initiates a service action which has been agreed as a normal part of service delivery”.

The act of making a service request seems to be simple enough. It’s a call to the service desk. Or perhaps, it’s a click or two on a web portal. And soon, that service request has been registered and processed…and perhaps, depending on the nature of the request, it’s even been fulfilled within just a few minutes.

Those making a service request may not appreciate what happens behind the scenes. But that is what a well-planned, designed, and implemented service request management practice does for an organization, its service consumers, and its service providers. It makes requesting and managing service requests simple enough.

But the importance of an effective service request management (SRM) practice is often overlooked…even taken for granted.

Behind the scenes

The Service Request Management practice provides a standard way for users to make requests of a service provider to provide resources or take actions that are an agreed part of the normal delivery of a service. SRM is one of the most visible service management practices within an organization.

Service requests all follow the same basic structure. First, the requester’s identity is confirmed to ensure that only those that are permitted to make a service request can make a request. The specifics of the particular request are then analyzed. Some requests are quite simple and require minimal effort for fulfillment, while other requests may be more complex, requiring contributions from several teams or involving several systems. As part of that analysis, what the requester is entitled to request is confirmed, along with any needed authorization (from a security perspective) or approvals (from a budget perspective). Finally, the request is fulfilled.

For example, a service request involving software may have to confirm that there are sufficient unassigned licenses available for fulfilling the request, and if not, trigger procurement of additional licenses. A service request for hardware, like a laptop or smartphone, may involve third parties to fulfill the request. A request for system access requires that SRM confirm that the requester is in fact authorized to access that system, and if so, provide only the type of access to which the requester is entitled.

So, regardless of whether it’s asking for a new smartphone, resetting a password, or asking a question, the basic structure of a service request is always the same. But that’s just the basics. The fact is that not all service requests are the same.

How to make it look simple

There’s so much going on behind the scenes than what may meet the eye when it comes to service requests. Behind the scenes, even the simplest service requests often involve several steps. What is the key to making it look simple?

The answer is request models.

A request model is a pre-defined method for fulfilling a specific type of service request.   In other words, for any request, there should be a pre-defined and agreed approach, or model, for fulfillment. This means that a request model must:

  • Define the inputs and outputs of the model – What information is needed to fulfill the request? What outputs result from processing the request?
  • Define what information is needed from the requester – In addition to a name and userid, additional information may be required, such as location, manager name, or contact information.
  • Identify what individuals or teams are involved – Who takes the actions required for fulfilling the request?
  • Define the time frames for fulfilling the request – How much time is needed to fulfill the request? What should be done if it’s taking longer than defined for fulfilling the request?
  • Define and design how the request may impact other service management practices, such as supplier management, access management, change enablement, or others – No service management practice can be successful by existing in a vacuum. A service request may trigger an action to order a new laptop from a supplier or cause the execution of a standard change. Performance targets and expectations for SRM should be defined and agreed in Service Level Agreements (SLA). Recognizing how service requests interact with other service management practices prevents unanticipated delays with fulfilling requests.
  • Specifically define how the output will be delivered to the requester – Some outputs can be delivered electronically, like software. Other outputs require a physical installation. Some may require both.
  • Consider if automation can be used to fulfill the request – Many service requests can be fulfilled without direct human interaction.

     With BOSSDesk you can design forms and set up workflows to simplify and automate Service Request Management

A little planning and design goes a long way

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? The fact is that to deliver the outcomes from a SRM practice that seems simple for the user does require some planning and design. There are a number of benefits that result from planning and designing of request models.

  • Improves coordination between teams – While many requests may be fulfilled by a single technician, some requests actually involve more than one team for fulfillment.
  • Delivers a better user experience – Users have confidence that they will get what they need in a timely, friction-free way.
  • Helps further identify opportunities for self-service and automation – This is a win-win for both the end-user and the fulfillment teams. The end-user gets her requests fulfilled on a near-real time basis. The providing organization, no longer needed to manually fulfill such requests, can devote more time to fulfilling requests that are more complex.
  • Provides measurability – One of the results of defining is that fulfilling such requests becomes consistently measurable. The ability to measure then opens possibilities for continual improvement, as well as the ability to set reasonable expectations regarding fulfillment – for both the end-user and fulfillment teams.

Don’t take service request management for granted!

It can be easy to take service request management for granted. But SRM is a way to illustrate the business value of the service provider. Here are some things to do to ensure that SRM isn’t being taken for granted, while continually improving the value of SRM.

  • Regularly publish performance reports – Illustrate just how much work is being done by SRM. Capture and publish agreed key performance indicators, or KPIs, such as the number of requests and the average time for fulfillment of requests being managed through the practice. By doing so, both the user community and the IT organization will have a shared understanding of the value that SRM provides.
  • Identify top 5 requests logged by service desk agents – This will help identify further opportunities for improvement and potentially automation.
  • Periodically audit current request models – Do existing request models accurately represent the current criteria for approvals and authorizations?

 BOSSDesk offers the capability to measure the utilization of Service Catalogs and feedback on services delivered for continuous improvement

 

Service Request Management may seem simple to the user and to the organization. But having a well-designed and effective SRM practice is not only critical for service management implementations, but it is also important for the performance of the overall organization. Don’t let your organization take SRM for granted!

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[1] ITIL Foundation, ITIL 4 Edition, p 195

About Doug Tedder: Doug Tedder is the principal consultant of Tedder Consulting LLC, a service management and IT governance consultancy. He is a recognized ITSM thought leader and holds numerous industry certifications ranging from ITIL®, COBIT®, Lean IT, DevOps, KCS™, VeriSM™, and Organizational Change Management. Doug is an author, blogger, and frequent speaker at local industry meetings and national conventions.  

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Integrating the Service Desk with Bots for enhanced Service Delivery

Holt WebinarHolt of California is a member of Caterpillar dealers worldwide and sells and services a wide-variety of equipment including Large and Small Construction Tractors, Agricultural Equipment, and Forklifts. Holt provides jobs for approximately 800 employees and consists of 3 companies, Holt of California, Sitech West and Holt Ag Solutions.

Holt was looking to enhance their Help Desk Software in order to achieve savings in manpower, improved efficiency and a reduction in response times. They wanted to automate many processes using Bot and App technology including the onboarding of new employees. They were looking for an integrated user friendly solution that would improve service delivery and user satisfaction across the organization.

The older BOSS Help Desk was upgraded to the new BOSS Support Central in 2019. The advanced capabilities of this system and integration with Accenture Bot technology enabled the automation of new employee onboarding provisioning which saved significant manpower. In addition Holt was able to reduce the response time for other service requests to under 5 minutes, and the Service Catalog has also been deployed to improve service delivery across the organization.

“BOSS has been a great partner and listens to our needs – it feels like a family, and the system works perfectly,"

 said Gail Dryden – Director of Information Technology at Holt of California

                  View the webinar with Holt of CA to learn more

 

The advanced capabilities of BOSS Support Central combined with the integration with other Bots and Apps provided Holt of California with significant savings in manpower, improved efficiency and enhanced service delivery within the organization. These include: 

  • Automating the provisioning and onboarding of new employees. Integrating the service catalog and routing rules with Accenture Bot technology allowed Holt to reduce the time to provision required services for new employees by more than 3 hours per employee. A similar approach was use to remove services for terminated employees.
  • Reducing service request response time to under 5 minutes. Using capabilities including SLA’s, Mobile Apps and scanning capability, Holt created a Fixit campaign that successfully reduced the time to respond to service request to under 5 minutes.
  • Improved performance monitoring and user satisfaction. Customized dashboard, comprehensive reporting and survey capabilities provided Holt with improved metrics to manage the business.
  • Reduced IT manpower required to support third party vendors. Using routing rules, external partners providing support such as printer vendors were able to receive service requests directly from the help desk, thereby reducing the workload on IT while maintaining complete control.
  • Improved service delivery through use by other departments. Holt expanded the Service Catalog to manage service requests for other departments including Facilities, Maintenance and Accounting and improved user satisfaction across the organization. Expansion to other departments is planned for the future
    Interested in what BOSS ITSM can do for your organization? Request a demo today!Get Free Demo

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How a Modern Service Desk  Dramatically Improves Efficiency and User Satisfaction

Help Desk Graphic 1

Deerfield Beach is a city in Broward County, Florida, just south of the Palm Beach County line. With a year-round population of over 50,000 the City of Deerfield Beach provides customer-oriented services, which create a quality of life that encourages residents and employers to enjoy South Florida and prosper in an ever-growing international economy.

The City of Deerfield Beach wanted to consolidate several older products with a modern Service Desk solution. They were looking to build a powerful Service Catalog that addressed specific departmental needs, improved efficiency and was more responsive to their user community. The City was also looking for a solution with an integrated Asset Management capability and support for other ITIL processes such as Change Management.

They came upon BOSSDesk an ITSM solution on the Cloud that perfectly fit their needs with the integrated service desk capability and incorporated a powerful Service Catalog and an award winning user-friendly interface. The City was impressed with support they received from the BOSS Solutions team during the selection and implementation process and were impressed by how easily the Service Catalog could be created to meet departmental needs. The City has seen dramatically improved efficiency and faster resolution resulting in improved user satisfaction.

 “The Service Catalog and workflow capability of BOSSDesk is excellent”. Ron McKenzie – CIO at the City of Deerfield Beach 

 

Deerfield Beach Service Catalog

 

 With BOSSDesk, the City of Deerfield Beach created an integrated Service Desk that addressed the various departmental needs, improved user satisfaction, while dramatically improving efficiency in several areas:

Information Technology: New hardware, software and support requests are managed, priority can be specified and response times improved. The ability to track and monitor incidents separately from requests provides the City far better controls to improve resolution time and efficiency. The ability to close multiple tickets associated with a specific problem was considered monumental in improving efficiency.

ITIL Best Practices: Using BOSSDesk the City was able to implement ITIL processes that included creating a CMDB, achieving better inventory control, implementing a knowledge base and a change management process.

Integrated Asset Management: With BOSSDesk the City is able to track in real time all inventory on the network. The software allows all devices to be identified via bar codes, can keep track of all software contract renewals and provide all details regarding the software vendors

Human Resources (HR) Onboarding: BOSSDesk enables the City to order and track all the service and equipment needed to support new employees. Workflows create tasks and required approvals to ensure the onboarding process is timely and efficient.

Public Affairs and Marketing: Users can make requests to post announcements on social media or through press releases, propose changes and additions to the website, and request videos.

The City of Deerfield Beach was also very impressed with how open the BOSS team was to new product enhancement requests and the speed at which these requests were implemented. Ron and his team members are pleased with the capabilities of BOSSDesk and how well it meets their specific needs.

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Using your Modern Help Desk for Enhanced Service Delivery

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) uses their IT Help Desk to Improve Service Delivery 

 

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Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College(ABAC) uses their IT Help Desk software to provide and manage a wide range of services for the college. ABAC is part of the 26 member University System of Georgia and supports more than 4000 students from 155 counties. Located in Tifton Georgia, it also supports four other sites for instructional purposes.

ABAC was looking for a modern Service Desk to meet their present day needs. They wanted to move away from their On Premise Help Desk solution as it had severe limitations one of which was that it could be accessed only when they were on campus.This did not work well for remote users and the students. As part of their search , they tried a couple of different products that met their basic needs but were clunky and provided a bad user experience. End users did not like putting in tickets as the system was not user friendly. A major requirement was to find a solution that was user friendly so everyone could put in a ticket at any site or any location that they supported and would also be easy for students to use. They then did a proof of concept of BOSSDesk the cloud based ITSM solution and it turned out to be a great solution for their environment.

Starting with the Single sign on and easy login to the customizable dashboards, BOSSDesk is a winner. The dashboard was very easy to configure with customizable widgets like tickets, problems , changes, software contracts, approvals and so on with all information available at your fingertips. Every user could customize the dashboard the way they wanted it . It turned out to be very useful for management in making business decisions.

Allen Saylor, CTO & CISO at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College shares his thoughts on how BOSSDesk benefits them. According to him, one of the major benefits for the college is the Service Catalog and the easy to create forms. Depending on the type of user you can control who sees what form and you can set permissions based on roles. Students have access to certain forms that they use. The forms can be built with relevant fields based on the info needed and this has been of great benefit as the earlier solutions they used had one form with standard fields and users did not like it. the whole layout is neat and clean. and building a form is very easy.

Allen loves the solution and had this to share on why he thinks he made a wise decision. "BOSS listens to the customer and comes up with new solutions to make the process easy. Routing and reports is a plus. We had four other help desk tools earlier and either they had one form and you had to pay the company to build an extra form or in another solution you had to go to three different screens to complete building one form. BOSSDesk service catalog is a simple drag and drop. Easy to set up fields, route on them and add drop downs. It allowed us to grow and add service catalogs as needed. It was so easy and end users loved it so much that we expanded it to additional teams like Digital Media services. We gave them permissions to design the forms the way they wanted. It made the team very efficient. We use it for Employee Onboarding. Other cool features we love are the canned responses where we can send messages to everyone. You can add a task and assign people to complete the task. The Approval boards make things very efficient. You just type in the user you need approval from. You have a log of all events for your records. There are tons of different things the solution can do. That's something we really enjoyed and we are learning more."

Allen is all praise for BOSSDesk. In his words," It is a blessing to have a tool that works really really well for us. Fantastic tool that helped our department grow and helped other departments as well in our organization. If I had to do it all over again I would have found BOSSDesk sooner before trying other products. I looked at one other  product while looking for a solution and made a mistake  and  picked the other product that cost me money and time. I wish I had done some more research. I lost two good techs because of the other product and wasted a lot of money and time. I would have picked this one first."

View the webinar with Allen Saylor:

Allen Saylor, CTO & CISO at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College discusses on how this was accomplished and shows examples of services offered.

 

You will learn how:

  • An IT Help Desk can be used to provide and manage a wide range of services including HR on-boarding, digital media, digital signage, website changes, student help, and much more.
  • Easily service requests can be automated and built quickly to address client requirements - no coding skills needed - all drag & drop
  • Reports and Dashboards with configurable widgets provide immediate metrics for the management team.
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Expanding the IT Help Desk to Streamline the Business

 

IT Help Desk Graphic 1

 

AAA North East achieved Simplicity, Standardization and Improved Member Satisfaction by implementing BOSSDesk ITSM on the Cloud.

AAA Northeast serves 5.8 Million members in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. The company has 3,300 employees, 7 Call Centers, 16 Driving Schools, 11 Fleet locations, 65 branch locations, and more than 165 Support Technicians.

AAA Northeast searched for a Help Desk solution that in addition to managing IT service requests, could also be expanded to support other business lines such as Automotive Services, Driving Schools and other internal departments including Human Resources and Facilities. To ensure that the company provided the best service for members any solution had to be very simple for users and could be standardized across the business lines.

BOSSDesk was selected because of the integrated service desk capability and a Service Catalog with an award winning user-friendly interface. It has been successfully implemented across many business lines and internal departments and using the BOSSDesk API, integrated with other systems such as SharePoint. With BOSSDesk, AAA Northeast has seen significant time reduction and improved efficiency combined with faster responses and faster resolution resulting in improved member satisfaction.

In collaboration with BOSS we were able to expand the Help Desk internally and streamlined operations in the business lines.” David Coté - IT Project Manager at AAA Northeast

Watch the webinar with David to learn more

 

Utilizing BOSSDesk, AAA Northeast created a Service Catalog that addresses the service management requirements of the following business lines and internal departments:

Streamlining operations using BOSSDesk: 

Information Technology. New hardware, software and support requests are managed, priority can be specified and response times tracked against Service Level Agreements. Equipment approvals can now be easily administered and tracked

Human Resources Onboarding. BOSSDesk enables the company to order and track all the service and equipment needed to support new employees. Tasks and approvals are generated to ensure the onboarding process is as effective as possible.

Automotive Services. Through collaboration with the Automotive Services business line, BOSSDesk automates the work flow of the Automotive Technology, Auto Facilities Feedback Portal and the Independent Service Provider Application process

Driving School. BOSSDesk keeps track of processes for inquires and requests for refunds and adjustments.

Facilities. BOSSDesk is used to submit and track various requests for facilities such as building services, landscaping, maintenance and cleaning.

Workforce Management BOSSDesk effectively controls requests for off phone activities, schedule changes and manager overrides.

Change Management. AAA significantly enhanced the change management process by integrating BOSSDesk with SharePoint via an API. More departments are being added to the service catalog and other services expanded and enhanced.

Please visit www.boss-solutions.com to learn more about BOSSDesk ITSM on the Cloud and BOSS Support Central ITSM On Premise

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