Posts tagged helpdesk

Hot on the heels of my ability to extract key information from Zendesk, I’m pleased to announce that we now have two new bits of data available for people to digest. The first one is a set of numbers from our current service desk software, which will (hopefully) be appearing in the ICT service desk sometime in the next week whilst we try hammer through some old tickets.

The next, more usefully for everyone on the academic side, is a summary display of PC availability in the GCW. There’s a bit of worry that the numbers may not be 100% accurate, but we’ve got a hardware audit planned so hopefully by the 24/5 opening these stats will be shockingly accurate, and possibly arranged into zones so you can find a free seat even easier.


Recently, in amongst the myriad of Jerome and Total ReCal (not to mention G2, the CWD revamps, fixing LUNA bugs, Dashboard, Nucleus, Linking You, Get Satisfaction, colour remote printing and a swathe of other Labs projects) I’ve been taking a serious look at Zendesk as a replacement for our current service desk ticketing system. In short I’m sold, and I’m pretty sure that a few other people are as well. After looking at a few other SaaS1¬†helpdesk providers Zendesk wins out for me on a number of features, but first and foremost on its simplicity and flexibility. Let me elaborate.

Yesterday we switched on a sandbox for us to play around in and use for testing. It’s already visually customised, using our SSO2 solution, using a custom domain, running with an SSL certificate, has custom fields in the ticket view, implements some of our business logic in triggers and automations, has our SLAs built in and flags trouble tickets, integrates with our Twitter account and Get Satisfaction support portal, has a variety of custom reports ready to go and has a small set of knowledge base articles available. Not bad for a few hours work.

We also gain the inherent benefits of SaaS, meaning that we no longer have servers or infrastructure for our support desk solution to worry about, and we gain new features the moment that they’re available without needing to sign up to another n-year contract. Licensing fees are on a per-agent basis so we’re not spending any more than we have to. We can access it on and off campus (something we can’t do at the moment without resorting to VPN. There’s even a mobile application so our roving support technicians can update tickets as soon as they need updating.

Alongside this there are a few other side effects. Our knowledge base can finally be extracted from the inner depths of Portal (where it resides in a set of PDF files and Word documents) and updated so that it’s finally up to date. We can have more agents, so that finally issues can be assigned to the right people. We can email everybody when things happen to tickets so they don’t languish at the bottom of the queue forever. There’s a nice web interface for everybody, so both agents and users alike can look through their own ticket history.

My target is to have us using it in two weeks. Wish me luck.

  1. Software as a Service []
  2. Single Sign-On []

Further to the revelation that there are students out there capable of voicing an opinion, we now have to deal with the resulting fallout. At this point I need to quote Joss, the nice man from CERD, who likened my approach to IT support to this:

Whilst I’m tempted to staple this notice to the front of the helpdesk and watch confused students ask “will you really set us on fire?”, it’s actually better to deal with stupid questions by documenting your response, on the basis that the universe never ceases to provide a constant stream of the terminally confused, people who don’t bother to read the dialog box which pops up with important information and clear instructions, and people who believe that the helpdesk are there to actually operate the computer on their behalf.


Okay, it’s been a while, so here’s a roundup of what’s going on in the land of Nick.

Get Satisfaction

My never-ending quest to get the University using Get Satisfaction seems to be nearing an end with the news that we will very soon (Monday!) be getting on the basic level of subscription services. This brings all kinds of cool new stuff to the service, including more moderation tools (so we can keep the conversation relevant and better manage how we respond to things), the ability to flag student reps as awesome (so more people listen to them), extra branding opportunities (so you know it’s about Lincoln), more widgets (for letting people use Get Satisfaction from within other sites) and most importantly the support of the University!

Now all we need is a cool name. So far thoughts include,,, and my personal favourite (although highly unlikely) – anybody got any more ideas or preferences? Let me know.

Print From My PC

Our ‘wireless printing’ service is still on track for a week 6 soft launch, although we’re experiencing some interesting glitches with printing from Ubuntu and other Linux flavours since they don’t trust our certificate provider. Kirsty took a brief wander around the library to work out where we could put posters advertising the service and you should hopefully see them appearing soon (so that you can break things and complain at us).

Lincoln University Network Access

This is a new one – LUNA is the name for an updated network access controller which will be rolling out to Student Village after the Christmas break. It includes improved security, better guidance on what to do when things go wrong, and (best of all) redesigned pages so you still feel like you’re within the University. Guess who’s been tasked with dismantling the existing pages, figuring out how they work and redesigning them all? Yup, it’s me!

All in all it’s a load of exciting things going on here in ICT. Hopefully once Get Satisfaction is working I can get cracking on another Service 2.0 thing (I want¬†to see if there’s something I can do with the helpdesk…), there are some big enhancements to timetabling floating around in the cloud, and there’s a huge (and I mean huge) set of changes to student communications in the pipeline.