Closer to ITIL with Cherwell

Quiss is not just a technology business. It is a service business with our clients’ users at its core. It is this understanding that shapes the way we work and our determination to continually improve the service we deliver to users, particularly those who have an IT problem interrupting their working day.

It has been a while in the implementation, but we have finally rolled out our new IT service management tool, Cherwell, which helps meet our desire for our service to be more closely aligned with ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) – a set of detailed practices focused on aligning IT services with the needs of business; in this case our services to our clients’ businesses.

Cherwell is not an ‘out of the box’ solution, but a platform that has required hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment and hundreds of hours of work by our team, headed by me, Ian Wesley, Customer Support Manager.

Working closely with Denise Bamford and Jade Holland, the team have been instrumental in tailoring the final system to the exact needs of our clients, their systems, the way they like to work and how we maintain a constructive dialogue.

We have always undertaken regular account management review meetings with our clients and this valuable feedback first indicated Cherwell was our future, with the ongoing insight shaping the future of our service management tool.

Two to the fore

The improvements over our old system are obvious, immediate and manifold, but two benefits are worth highlighting.

Our support analysts can communicate directly with users through Cherwell, rather than using email separately. This 2-way communication process records all requests and actions, within a live ticket environment where all journal updates are held against the raised ticket.

These journal updates automatically track all email correspondence. This not only improves response times and allows a quicker escalation of tricky problems, but ensures users with a problem recognise the work done on their behalf, with less ‘radio silence’.

Secondly, the system is a real-time knowledgebase that is constantly updated with every problem, every action and every process that delivers successful outcomes. As our support team take notes about the user’s problem, Cherwell automatically suggests solutions that have worked in the past. Importantly, this is not limited to a single client, which helps cut the time to a successful solution significantly.

Devil in the detail

It is often the big ideas, the big changes that get the headlines with new systems like Cherwell, but one of the small changes that makes a big difference is the automatic creation of a ticket reference number for every issue logged, by phone, email or through the system.

No more wondering if the problem is being dealt with, for users who have raised an issue that’s not immediately critical to their work.  Their problem is logged and the reference number instils confidence that it is on our system, we are aware of it and will resolve it in line with the agreed SLA.

All of the tickets raised are visible to our service management team via an intuitive dashboard, which shows all the priorities.

It might be tough to take for some, but some issues raised by users will need to take priority and thanks to the graphical representation of this data, we can deploy the necessary resources to resolve critical issues, long before we are chased for an answer.

When incidents are raised, we ask the user two simple questions that help us classify each one and the nature of the response needed. We ask if the incident is affecting just the user raising the ticket or more individuals across the organisation and whether the system is impaired or not working at all.

The system has created a small change in responsibility, with responses based on the client and their needs, rather than the simple first-come, first-served basis still favoured by some traditional IT support firms.

A printer problem might not seem a priority, but if it prints the wage slips and the month end run is due, it can be critical, so we can change the priority to reflect the need for an immediate resolution.

No Geek tragedy this

Change can always cause problems at the outset, but the system has not only been well-received by our clients, but by those who have to work with it on a daily basis.

The feedback from our experienced support analysts is that because all calls are logged in real time using quick response templates, they don’t have to spend time after the incident filling out forms, which frees up time for more thinking and analysing.

We are confident as we get used to our new system, we will deliver better more effective solution, which might not always be the most obvious, thanks to the time analysts will now have for a good old think.

Just the data that matters

Our advanced customer portal’s provide each client with access to a dashboard that allows users to log and view their own tickets for issue resolutions, with key account access that shows senior managers all the tickets and progress towards the solutions.

We share similar information for each client, which allows us to suggest potential improvements in response to similar faults across the organisation’s system, indicating a deeper issue.

The client and our management team can view this intelligence in real time on a shared dashboard, which can help drive future IT strategy and objectives, because without the right data, it’s all just opinion.

We have successfully implemented the new system and although at the time of writing the feedback from clients has been positive, there is much more to come in the immediate future. We are currently working on enhancing our configuration management databases (CMDB) for clients, along with an additional knowledgebase to allow users to solve their own problems, when simple resolutions are possible.

So next time you get a ticket reference number and a quick resolution to the issue interrupting your day, please spare a thought for the system and the people making it all possible. And better.

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