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An emergency-services agency partnered with TEKsystems to manage their end-user support center and provide LAN and WAN engineering support.

This emergency-services agency provides life- and property-saving services to a major U.S. metropolitan area. The agency has more than 15,000 employees across more than 200 locations. The client has partnered with TEKsystems since 1999.

Businesses of all types and sizes face a similar challenge—doing more with less. In IT, this means providing more services to meet the demands of a technology-driven business environment without significantly impacting operational expenses. Organizations need to find the right talent to manage, design, develop and implement various technologies as well as IT initiatives to keep their organization current, effective and competitive—all while staying within the budget.

Government agencies are very familiar with this challenge since budgets constantly fluctuate due to changes in tax revenue streams, administration and community needs. These budget constraints present further challenges to the organization when considering their IT environment. IT professionals are in high demand and there is a shortage of qualified talent. With a modest budget, organizations in the public sector have difficulty competing for and retaining the high-quality IT resources they need. Furthermore, this process can become more complicated by the time required to create or update full-time job classifications, which can significantly delay recruitment, hiring, onboarding and time to productivity.

These challenges lead many government agencies to turn to IT services companies to help them find the right talent, quickly. IT services providers can offer organizations the flexibility needed to ramp teams up or down in alignment with project demands, as well as ongoing management of the team, which allows internal employees to focus on more strategic initiatives, rather than day-to-day operations.

BMC Service Desk Express, Cabletron Spectrum, Cisco, inContact ACD, Juniper, Microsoft Outlook, Novell GroupWise, Oracle Application Development Framework, Windows 7

The client, an emergency-services agency for a major U.S. metropolitan area, has a technical support center that acts as the first level of support for all of the agency’s desktop, networking, application and connectivity issues. The support center was previously manned by a rotating staff of six uniformed members assigned to light-duty work. While this staffing level adequately met call volume, the continuous rotation of personnel inhibited the proficiency of the support center. Additionally, the lack of technical knowledge, knowledge transfer and institutional memory denied the support center the long-term success necessary to become the single point of contact for all of the agency’s technology needs.

The client needed resources to support and manage the support center, providing appropriate phone support, screening, initial problem determination, dispatching or resolution, and tracking, while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction. Additionally, the client sought skilled resources for proactive WAN monitoring and support and assist in planning for the future of the network.

The client knew it needed skilled, consistent support but faced budget and time limitations in hiring and onboarding qualified personnel. They were seeking a true partner who would work with them to find the right skilled resources, integrate with their team and align themselves with the organization’s overarching goals.

Above all, the dynamic of the client’s business—providing emergency services 24/7 to the community—dictated the agency’s most critical requirement: the partner of choice needed to maintain positive user productivity as well as network and server uptime so that the agency’s servicemen and servicewomen could respond quickly to save lives and property.

The client first partnered with Computer Horizon Corporation (CHC) in 1999 (CHC was acquired by TEKsystems in 2007) to support the planning, design and oversight of a move from various agency locations and systems to a standard operating platform out of its new headquarters. When the client identified a need for greater network and help desk support, TEKsystems was invited to bid on the project.

A managed service was proposed. It would include sourcing, screening, hiring, onboarding and performance managing all support center personnel, as well as WAN monitoring and administrative support for the agency’s incident management tool.

The on-site support center would resolve all end-user issues with Novell GroupWise (and later Microsoft Outlook), as well as support Oracle and Web-based proprietary applications, which account for the majority of calls received at the support center. The team would consist of three level-one analysts, a level-two analyst / help desk administrator and a help desk manager. The team would provide coverage from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and on holidays.

Our network engineers would monitor the WAN within the metropolitan area. Their responsibilities would include identifying and troubleshooting issues; coordinating safety vulnerability alerts; and maintaining the hardware and software of all network management systems, which may include performing patches, making replacements, as well as testing. The team would utilize a cadre of related network tools, including, but not limited to, Cisco, Cabletron Spectrum and NAI products. The senior engineers would design layered network architecture for core public safety applications across major sites and implement a Juniper SSL VPN for remote users. Their expertise would be utilized for technical reviews and assessments on critical initiatives such as a public safety network, public safety dispatch and business continuity and disaster recovery environments.

In 2000, we assumed responsibility of the client’s on-site technical support center and began providing managed services for help desk analysts and network engineers. The client selected TEKsystems—and has continued our partnership—because of our high-quality consultants, successful working relationship and cost-effective solutions.

Our partnership has evolved and expanded over the years. In the early 2000s, we expanded the WAN hours of coverage. After our contract was renewed in 2006, we added LAN engineering support and in 2008, expanded support center coverage to seven days a week—and then went to 24/7 operations in 2011.

Our original five-person support center team has grown to include eight help desk analysts, one help desk administrator/analyst, one help desk supervisor and one customer support manager / delivery manager. Our engineering support team consists of four network operating engineers, one WAN administrator, one LAN administrator and three enterprise network engineers. Over the years, additional positions have been involved and ramped up or down per the client’s particular initiative needs (i.e., project management and Oracle application developers for a critical development effort).


 Here is a sampling of metrics tracked by TEKsystems:

 Service Desk Performance Metric

 Performance 

 Service desk resolution rate

 66%

 Average speed to answer (ASA)

 1.73 minutes

 Call abandon rate

  16%

 Customer satisfaction rate

 96-98%

 Average length of call

 5.81 minutes

 Average tenure (including supervisor
and help desk administrator)

 3.4 years

 Average overall years of service desk experience
(including supervisor and help desk administrator)

 14.3 years

 

The service desk is the single point of entry for the more than 15,000 users who work for the agency to call with issues for over 4,000 machines. When TEKsystems was first brought on board, call levels were around 300 per month. Now, the operation averages about 1,500 calls a month, peaking at over 2,300 during software rollouts, such as the migration to Microsoft Outlook or Windows 7. Also, same-day closure has increased from 25 percent to more than 70 percent. We align our metrics with the agency’s organizational goals.

Our network support has included introducing VMware server utilization, refreshing the back-up environment and migration, and other projects, including identity management, technology refresh of messaging, file/print services and data protection. We are brought in during the planning stages for projects and custom applications and trained as subject matter experts—for example, during the planning and design of the migration to Windows Active Directory.

During the past 10 years—a period of significant and disruptive technology advances—the city government has implemented many new applications to meet the various needs of different agencies. Our consultants have helped the agency implement many of these strategic and mission-critical initiatives.

Network engineering

We have added skilled resources to support the client’s enterprise network engineering group. Our engineers participate in meetings with internal groups, other city agencies and vendors, to evaluate and research emergency technologies and develop network configurations. The engineers advise our client in conjunction with other agencies for bids on consolidated systems or new technologies, and therefore represent the agency’s interests to ensure their network is protected in terms of security, performance and uptime in all situations. We also lend our expertise either by reviewing the network requirements and making recommendations as to the proper approach or by architecting the network solution for the WAN/ LAN/security teams to implement.

Training kiosks

Previously, line-level emergency personnel in the facilities did not have access to PCs. We supported the agency’s efforts to put kiosks in the facilities for training and communication. The kiosks administer training, such as terrorism and disaster preparedness courses, and stream news updates to the facilities. The successful implementation was due to the project team gathering input from emergency personnel on what communications and training was needed in the field. The agency continually rolls out new training and now emergency personnel can take the courses during down time on their shifts.

The initiative has evolved so that each of the major divisions and bureaus now have their own Web page they can access via the kiosk to communicate new, relevant information within that group. Since implementation, the site has accumulated approximately four million hits. During a recent significant weather event, the kiosks enabled headquarters to communicate with the facilities throughout the storm.

Automatic call distributor (ACD)

The agency’s legacy answering system was not meeting the increased demands of the support center. In 2012, the TEKsystems team led an initiative to implement an ACD. We recommended the ACD inContact, which enabled the team to handle more calls, eliminate prior voicemail problems and keep count of the number of calls received by the support center, which has helped reporting. The software also allows remote access. It was implemented prior to the significant weather event and enabled analysts to dial in remotely to support emergency personnel and broadcast emergency updates and report widespread issues.

Our relationship with the client has been successful for over 14 years because of the following factors:

Commitment to continuous improvement. Our team is always looking for ways to improve. We analyze metrics to identify opportunities for process and technology improvements and quality initiatives. We have identified issues in process, such as aging reports for open work orders, as well as operations, like subject top-10 reports, inventory and hardware failures. When we identify repetitive call types, we work to enhance training, education and the knowledge base to reduce recurring incidents.

Strong partnership. The client sees our consultants as a high-performing extension of their own team. Over the years, our team has integrated seamlessly with the agency’s IT group. There is a great degree of transparency; in addition to ongoing project management and weekly status meetings, we meet regularly with agency leaders to discuss new business initiatives and goals, resolve any project issues and review status of this engagement. Where there are issues, the client remains informed and we work together to resolve them. However, what is perhaps most important, is that the TEKsystems team is as passionate about the agency’s mission—to provide life- and property-saving services every day—as the internal employees.

Flexibility and open communication. We work with the client to optimize workforce solutions, scheduling resources to meet business demands and attain service levels, while having resource contingencies and succession planning coverage available. We communicate scheduled changes, rollouts and tool enhancements, as well as share tips and tricks for end users on the Intranet to empower end users to find solutions and increase their own skills.

Investment in onboarding and development. We have formalized onboarding which includes mentoring/shadowing and technical and application training. On a recurring basis, we do technical/application reviews, process/procedure reviews, soft skill reviews and offer career development for industry training opportunities, quarterly performance reviews and monthly one-on-one manager sessions. We also maintain a knowledge base to retain institutional knowledge.