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Dominican University boosted its resolution times with Deskpro

With a relatively small IT department and thousands of student, faculty and alumni to support, Dominican University needed an affordable replacement for its outdated home-grown support software. Switching to Deskpro reduced average ticket resolution time from 70 days to just 3 days.

The Challenge

Dominican University’s IT department supports over 25,000 users, including 4,000 students and faculty, plus thousands of alumni. The core of which is the small IT staff of under 20 agents. The university had been using a legacy helpdesk system, which had been in place for over ten years, but it was failing to meet requirements.

Originally, first-level support was run by student employees, but the poor usability of the legacy helpdesk made it too hard to train the students. In addition, tracking cases was a pain for support agents and end-users alike.

Alex Oquendo, Manager of IT Student Workforce at Dominican, explains: “There was no interaction from the agents to staff or students once a ticket was created and assigned. Anytime someone wanted an update on a case, you had to chase down the agent.”

Alex knew the university needed to find a replacement that would scale well to its requirements. But when it came to evaluating replacement products, the pricing structures of many vendors proved uneconomic due to the number of student agents on the helpdesk.

“We've had some issues with other vendors and the stability of their platforms. A key requirement was to have the new helpdesk hosted as an On-Premise solution.”

A driver of the need to host on campus was the need to assure data protection and student privacy. The university's support center handles both student records covered by the Family Education Rights Protection Act and medical records covered by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. “We pay close attention to compliance,” as sending data to third-party servers would risk a loss of federal funding or even lawsuits.

The Solution

In early 2015, Dominican settled on a 200-agent Deskpro On-Premise installation, allowing plenty of seats for student support staff. The total number of accounts in the system, including alumni, is now well over 25,000.

For Dominican University, data security matters. Deskpro’s On-Premise deployment allows them to assure data protection and student privacy and manage scalability. Although other On-Premise vendors were considered, Deskpro's affordable pricing and flexible configuration was the winning option for Adam Smeets, Director of University Information Systems, and his team.

“We've grown into Deskpro, and it gives us more opportunities to build out things like the service catalog in a way that works for us, rather than the only way provided by another product.”

While some products Dominican considered offered canned versions of frameworks like ITIL, Adam was happier with Deskpro’s customizability as the IT team found it flexible enough to build in a way that suits. With full access to the PHP source code and a flexible template system, it gave Dominican the ability to make modifications, tweaks, or updates if needed.

The Benefits

“Deskpro has been amazing for us, we’ve gone from an average of over 70-plus days to close a case to a little over 3 days now.”

This dramatic improvement is down to the way the university uses automations to monitor and escalate cases. The university’s SLA is to close tickets within 48 hours; previously, they had absolutely nothing in the old system to help them enforce that. After setting up escalations, if an agent hasn’t contacted a client within 48 hours or resolved the case, an SLA is triggered, and the director is added on as a follower so they know what’s going on.

“If we ask the client a question and within 48 hours, if they don’t give us a response, they get a reminder saying that we need more information and then the case will be automatically closed in 24 hours if they don’t reply.”

The final SLA is set at five days to close the case. If a case isn't, the CIO gets added to the ticket. Adding agent notes to any ticket makes it easier for Alex and the help desk management to enforce the correct procedures and train agents.

“For me, the beauty of it is being able to leave a note for the student when I review cases it gives me a coaching opportunity. I can point out what they could have done better, so they can see right then and there in the case rather than pulling them aside days later and talking about a case that they vaguely remember.”

Generating reports and tracking SLAs was always a struggle for Alex when the University was using their in-house created helpdesk software. Now, with Deskpro, it has opened up a plethora of tracking options and metrics for the helpdesk managers to view.

“They’re just so easy to use. There are pre-populated reports with a dropdown to change different things around. The different types of reports that I can get, CSV files, pie or bar charts, are great to take to my CIO to reinforce why we’re doing things or why we should change things.”

Dominican doesn’t just use Deskpro for IT tickets. Using the ability to create separate departments, the university tracks physical plant issues (like carpentry and HVAC), cleaning tickets, public safety issues, and even parking permits. Different departments have different automation rules applied automatically but are all handled in one helpdesk.

Alex sends the IT directors and the directors of the University physical plant and security departments a weekly SLA report, enabling them to track the performance of the staff they manage and highlighting any problems.

Deskpro has been amazing for us. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who needs a powerful, customizable, and affordable helpdesk.
Alex Oquendo Assistant Director

The Future

For Dominican University, they were selecting a new help desk solution as a long-term solution that could grow and scale as their support changed. It also needed to provide a regular update cycle and responsiveness to students & faculty.

“With most vendors, you see quarterly updates or half-year updates,” says Adam Smeets. “We were seeing regular updates from Deskpro of 'Here are things we're working on, here's our next steps, we're listening to our customers', for me that was an immediate win.”

Since Dominican adopted Deskpro, new features have been added. The ITIL problems and incidents is one of the most useful.

“Of the new features that we’ve used, I would say problems and incidents has been the greatest one.”

A problem like a network outage might create tickets across different departments: for example, causing problems with phones, but also networked printers. Before the new feature, the support team was putting them all in an outage department. With problems and incidents, tickets across different departments can be linked together. Once the problem is resolved, Adam and the team can contact all the staff and students (using mass actions) while keeping the tickets in the proper departments, so they don’t have to go back and touch the cases again.

“For us as a client, it's really helpful to know what features Deskpro is working on. We're not seeking another product because we know what’s coming. We’re excited to see that.”