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Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. They are consistently ranked among the top 200 universities in the world and within the top 30 in the United Kingdom. The University has close to 18,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, and academic and administrative staff working on and off-campus. The University’s IT team, with 180 members across four divisions, is tasked with making sure their wired and wireless networks, server infrastructure, IT classrooms, audio-visual media services, and software and hardware assets are properly managed and supported on time.
The IT team has been supporting incidents and service requests using a legacy tool implemented in 2009. A lot of the processes involving incident management were manual which increased their average resolution times and posed a challenge to their service delivery aspirations. In a quest to overhaul their end-user experiences, the team decided to get SDI certified to identify inefficiencies and then implement a new service desk tool to drive continual improvement.
The University of Aberdeen’s (UoA) IT team receives 50,000 tickets from its students and staff annually. The legacy tool wasn’t able to log tickets from unknown customers and the tickets that came in from known customers were primarily grouped by FIFO. This made triage difficult because ticket updates and new, possibly high priority, tickets all appeared in the same inbox. The automated workflows governing these tickets were limited and required expert understanding to have them coded into the system. Once the agents picked up tickets, they needed to manually append each update into the main thread for future context. This manual effort significantly increased the team’s average response times and productivity.
Reporting on the service desk performance wasn’t straightforward. The team required SQL knowledge and a clear understanding of the different field names (associated with these metrics), created at the time of implementation, to make it work. To further impact customer satisfaction, the nature of licenses limited the team’s ability to support customer requests fully during peak hours or peak cycles in the academic year, such as at the start of term.
SDI certified the University of Aberdeen’s IT service operations as Proactive on their rating scale. The team wanted to supplement this certification with a service desk tool that was modern, flexible and helps them become pioneers in higher education IT service management. The tendering process was comprehensive, and Freshservice came on top overall, in terms of functionality and customer engagement. Iain Cameron, User Services Manager, who manages the IT Service Desk said: “Freshservice seriously interested us from the get-go. We felt fully supported and wanted by Freshworks, who really went out of their way to deal with us.”
The IT team spun up and went live with Freshservice in a couple of months. The core Incident/Request management was their first phase of implementation. With built-in “Views”, 30+ views were created for 30+ groups with separate views for incident triaging alone to help agents get to critical tickets faster. The team immediately understood the benefit and potential of using Freshservice’s simple drag-and-drop workflow automation and launched with about 10 workflows on day one. By continually identifying new workflow possibilities, within a couple of months they had automated almost 100 workflows. They note that on an almost daily basis they can add, remove or refine workflows. As the team got familiar with the tool, they intelligently used scenario automation to deal with current and future issues. Iain Cameron added: “Proactively identifying future issues and dealing with it is unheard of here. We’ve been firefighting for so long; it’s amazing to finally have breathing space.” With 100+ automation and 84 canned responses, their average response and resolution times dropped significantly in comparison to their old tool.
Moving from an outdated legacy system to an ITIL-aligned, cloud-based, device-agnostic service desk was a breath of fresh air for UoA. The Service Desk Manager, Iain Cameron, uses Freshservice on a Windows 10 laptop, primarily, but also on a Chromebook, an iPad and an Android smartphone. Students and staff can raise tickets and access the portal across multiple channels. They have rebranded the Portal using a UoA brand palette and own brand Toolkit iconography. By pairing the portal with solution articles, the IT team has quietly started on its path to grow its portal usage and promote self-service. To further reduce time spent on unnecessary tickets, Freddy, the Freshservice AI, has recognised multiple thank you variations from end-users and deflected close to 500 tickets till date. The UoA could finally report on these performance improvements without any manual effort using Freshservice’s powerful analytics.
The University of Aberdeen IT team is continually improving its incident management process by adding an automation workflow almost every day. Since the implementation, the team is already live with their problem management module and is currently customizing the Change module within Freshservice to adapt to their change management processes. To better identify assets impacted during an incident, problem, or change, the team is also integrating their 20,000+ assets to manage and track them through their lifecycle- from acquisition to expiration. The team will also introduce further solutions and Freshdesk Messaging, Freshworks' live chat software, as a service channel to improve self-service adoption.
“We’ve been delighted with Freshservice and are proud to be partners with them. And we haven’t even mentioned the increasing amount of machine learning and AI that has started to bear fruit with Freshservice.”
User Services Manager
The University of Aberdeen
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